Google’s next major Android release Android O is now in beta and is shaping up towards what will be released as the public release for masses. And while there are few months to go before that happens, Google took the stage during Google I/O 2017 keynote to give everyone a glimpse of features which will be coming with Android O.
With Android O, Google has categorized most of the Android features under two categories named Fluid Experiences and Vitals. As names suggest, the first one is related to allowing users to do more even on small screen devices and the second one is about focusing basic elements of the software aspect and make them better.
Starting with Fluid Experiences, Google talked about Android O features like Picture-in-Picture mode, Notification Dots, Autofill, and Smart Text Selection. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
Android O’s Picture-in-Picture (PIP) mode will allow users to use two apps at the same time but in a much better and natural way than the existing split-screen functionality. This mode is primarily aimed at video apps like YouTube and Netflix where you can continue watching a video even if you are using any other app. To use this feature, you will need to play a video and tap the Home button which will transform it into a small window only showing the video playback. You can then move around this window anywhere on your phone’s display as per your preference or need. Once you are done watching the video, simply swipe away the window and it will be gone.
Notification Dots feature is simply Google’s approach towards notification badges for app icons but with more functionality. With Android O, users will see a dot on the app icon whenever there will be a pending notification. While you can always check it via notification panel, Notification Dots allows you to tap and hold on the app icon for seeing the notification with no need of swiping down. And as soon as you will swipe away the notification from the notification panel, the dot will also disappear from the app icon. It is worth mentioning that the color of the dot will depend on app icon’s color.
Autofill is a feature which is simply an expansion Google Chrome’s autofill functionality to smaller devices with Android O. This feature will save you from the trouble of entering your details in apps and other fields on mobile devices again and again. It will remember details like login username/password, credit card information, and addresses and enter them beforehand for you. But as you would expect, users will be able to opt-in and opt-out of this feature as and when they want.
Smart Text Selection:
Smart Text Selection feature on Android O will make it a lot easier for users to select any text and perform copy-paste function. It makes use of machine learning to detect what you are intending to select and will select it for you automatically without you needing to adjust selection sliders. For example, if there is an address you need to select, you will simply have to tap and hold on any one part of it and the feature will select the whole address automatically. And that’s not just it, it will also suggest you corresponding apps depending on the type of text is selected. It means it will show Google Maps for addresses, phone dialer for numbers, and Chrome browser for an URL.
Talking about Vitals, Google mentioned about better battery life, software optimization, and security towards malicious apps. It announced Google Play Protect at the keynote which is basically Android’s inbuilt virus scanner which will scan all apps that will be installed on the device and flag them if found anything suspicious. While this has been available on Android for a long time as Google said it scans over 50 billion app installs every day, it has now been made visible to users so that they can check data like which apps have been scanned and when was the last time scanner worked.
As for software optimization part, Google announced that it has made some behind the curtain changes to the software which has resulted in significantly faster performances. It reported a boot time twice as faster than before on Pixel devices along with noteworthy performance boost in app usage with no changes made to the app itself. While Google did not go into depth about what changes have been made, it summarized the whole process by saying that eventually, users will see apps working faster and phone booting up quickly.
Lastly, about improved and better battery life, Google talked about limiting background app usage via “wise limits”. It said that focus will be on making sure that apps don’t run in the background for too long which will result in reduced battery consumption.