Android O Preview

Google has just released the third Android O Developer Preview. This preview will give us a good indication of what the final version of Android O will be like when it releases this summer.

The first notable thing is that the Android O Developer Preview 3 calls it Android 8.0. This one was a given, especially since Google has released a new version of Android each year and new version number along with it. Now that we know that Android O will be 8.0, what will be the final dessert-themed name be (Oreo anyone?).

Google is making media notifications, much prettier. In the third Android O Developer Preview, Google has improved upon their Palette API, which was first introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop.

The API would be able to take colors from an image to change the color of a UI. But with Android O Developer Preview 3, the API has been fully implemented into media notifications. Which means that colors from a song’s album art will show up in a media notification.

So, if the music you listen to has album art that has a lot of dark colors, the media player notification will reflect those same colors, as if it’s part of the album art. The Palette API is able to detect dark and light colors from album art.

With Android O, it also brings new rules for apps running in the background. In previous Android versions, you wouldn’t know what background apps or tasks are currently running. But now in Android O, you’ll get a notification that shows you that a background app is running.

This is so, users are notified that there may be apps running in the background and using a lot of their device’s resources. All these background app notifications will be put into a section called “by the way” and all the notifications in this section are just one-line and don’t take up that much space in the notification shade.

It is possible that these background app notifications could be changed in the final developer preview (scheduled for July).

The Clock app has gotten a slight redesign in Android O Developer Preview 3. The app’s icon has a blue color scheme, rather than a purple one. Even the actual app’s color scheme has a darker background, which is switches to when its night time.

Those are just some of the newest features in Android O Developer Preview 3 but what about some of the previous changes, well let’s walk through some of those.

Picture-in-Picture (PIP) is now making its way to Android O. The feature was previously limited to Android TV but now all phones and tablets with Android O will be able to use picture-in-picture.

PIP allows users to continue watching a video in the background while using another. PIP is not anything new, and Apple implemented on the iPad with iOS 10. In Android, you’ll be able to place your PIP window anywhere on the screen and it won’t be limited to the YouTube app.

Notification Dots are like unread notifications that you’ll find on iOS. In Android O, when an app has an unread notification, a small dot will appear near the app’s icon as well as in the notification shade. If you swipe away the notification in the shade, it will dismiss the Dot as well.

In addition, if you long press on an app with a Notification Dot, you’ll be able to directly see the notification in a small window along with a few actions.

The notification shade will also be getting a refresh in Android O. The quick settings toggles now take up a bit more of the screen. In addition, you’ll be able to snooze notifications, so you can deal with that particular notification later.

Android O also brings notification channels, which allows you to split your notifications in a variety of groupings or block certain ones. For example, if you wanted just notifications about technology news from your favorite news app, you can do that.

Smart Text Selection is a smart version of copy/paste. In Android O, all you need to do is a double tap on a piece of text and using Google’s AI, it will intelligently select words. For example, if you want to select an address, just about tap it and it will select the entire address.

Auto-Fill will be implemented at a system-level in Android O. We’re all familiar with auto-fill in Chrome and for some of us, some password managers like LastPass. With Android O, apps will be able to automatically fill in your username and password, so you can instantly login to your favorite apps, especially if you use a new device.

Google is also making changes to help with battery life optimization in Android O, with Vitals. Vitals are a set of security tools and optimizations that developers can use to better suit each user’s device. If you’re running Android O on the Google Pixel, you can expect faster boot times and fast app openings in Android O.

As for the security tools, Google has introduced Google Play Protect which has been designed to scan for malicious apps coming into the Play Store and won’t harm your device.

Some of the other stuff that is coming in Android O includes the ability for developers to choose their own font style and weight. Android O also brings Wi-Fi Awareness, so you’re able to connect to another device without the need for an actual internet connection.