The latest version of Android’s platform, Nougat, is on less than three percent of all Android devices despite being available since last August. And yet, this isn’t stopping Google from launching the follow-up in a few months.
Codenamed Android O — since it comes after the letter N of Nougat — there’s no official moniker for the eighth iteration just yet. It’ll presumably be another dessert, like Oreo or Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, but while we wait for the announcement, a developer preview is now available for download. This means people who create apps for a living can test their software on Android O before it hits the consumer market, making sure everything is ready for the big launch.
So, for consumers like us, this build isn’t stable enough for use as a daily driver. It’s anyone’s guess when the final, stable version will come out, but we can at least check out the newest features right now. Here are five of them:
Longer battery life
How many times have we heard this one before? While past promises didn’t always deliver, Google is backing up its latest battery-boosting claims with a promising feature: Android O can prevent apps running in the background from abusing system resources, so they won’t slow down whatever you’re actually working on. Take that, greedy Facebook app!
Yet another revised Settings menu
As Android gets more feature-packed, the more cluttered the Settings menu becomes. Taking all the new features and configurations into mind, Google came up with much more streamlined categories for all the options you can tinker with. They’re grouped together in a more logical manner, so finding that setting for activating NFC or checking your battery usage is all the more straightforward.
Support for picture-in-picture
You know how you can minimize what you’re watching on the YouTube app so you can scroll through other videos? Now, imagine doing that with any video on any other app. This would work nicely on the large-screen phones we’ve been seeing lately, and would open up more multitasking possibilities on top of the split-screen mode Nougat introduced.
Even better notification control
As apps become more complex, so do their pesky alerts. Android O is once again offering better control over notifications and how they get pushed to you. On top of long-pressing a notification to select what exactly you’d like it to show you, swiping it to the side also allows you to snooze a specific app for as long as you want.
More control from start to finish
Stock Android is taking another page from the user interfaces Samsung, LG, and other major players have been developing, and applying it to its own system. On the lock screen, you may now swap the usual lower-left and lower-right shortcuts (normally reserved for emergency calls and quickly launching the camera) for whatever other apps you’d prefer.
Plus, modifying the navigation bar at the bottom is finally, finally possible! The standard back, home, and app drawer buttons have adjustable positions and spacing between each other, letting you choose the most comfortable setup for any screen size you’re handling. You can even place additional buttons to the left or right of the trio of keys.