Google sought to sweeten this week’s solar eclipse with debut of its new Android O upgrades, unveiling them right at the moment of totality on the East Coast Monday afternoon.
Keeping with its candy theme, the latest version is officially called Android Oreo, and will bring with it promised interface updates like notification dots and picture-in-picture mode as well as performance and security boosts.
Perhaps two of the most notable upgrades to come with Oreo are notification dots and picture-in-picture mode.
The former allows users to see which apps have news to share via the presence of a small, plain bubble located in the top right corner of the app icon. Tapping on the dot quickly will allow users to see a short description of what’s new and swipe to clear the message if desired. Separately, Oreo will also give users more control over notifications, with more granular options to control which notifications appear and the option to snooze certain alerts. Picture-on-picture mode also offers a new option for those who want to multitask, enabling the use of two apps at once. This is accomplished by shifting one of the activities (like a video chat) to a smaller window in the bottom corner of the screen in the foreground while work is done on a larger display in the background.
Other user interface boosts include an autofill tool that can automatically complete passwords and other personal information, more than 60 new options in Google’s emoji set, and Android Instant Apps, which allows users to tap directly into new apps from their browser without having to install them.
On the performance end of the spectrum, Google is touting Android Oreo’s improved boot speed, which is as much as two times faster than it was before (as measured on the Google Pixel). The developers have also introduced limits on background activities, like execution and location updates, to help conserve power for a longer battery life. Android Oreo will also boost security with a feature called Google Play Protect, which will automatically check both the device and apps on it for security problems.
So when do we get it?
According to Google blog post, Android Oreo is being pushed to the Android Open Source Project for access today. The system is currently in carrier testing on the Pixel and Nexus 5X and 6P handsets, with the expectation that updates will begin rolling out “soon.” Handset vendors including Samsung, Essential, HMD Global (the new home of Nokia phones), Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Sony, and Sharp are all scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo by the end of this year.