It's a fun day when the developer preview for an upcoming operating system is released. Whether you're a developer or not you get a sneak peek at upcoming features that may soon be coming to your phone.
Google released Tuesday the developer version of its next Android OS currently called just O. Some of O's most exciting features are better battery life, easier controls for notifications and picture-in-picture video for both phones and tablets. There's no guarantee all these features will be in the full release some time later this year.
1. Battery life
Improving the battery life is one of the biggest and most welcomed features of Android O. Similar to iOS, Android O will limit and manage what apps do in the background while multiple apps are open.
This is one of those "behind the curtain" features that you'll appreciate even if you can't see exactly how it works. For example, if you are using Instagram but have Google Maps open in the background, location services will update the location less frequently for Maps to keep it from draining your battery as fast.
2. Notifications channels
Notifications have always been one of the perennial strong features of Android. In O, you can group your notifications into channels or as Google describes it: "app-defined categories for notification content". So if you had a channel of apps that are all "news" related, you could interact and control notification settings for all the apps in the news channel at once.
3. Snooze notifications
Sometimes as wonderful as notifications are, you just need them to be quiet for a little while. Android O gives you the ability to snooze notifications simply by sliding your finger across a notification and then selecting how long to snooze it for: 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
While we've seen picture-in-picture video for the iPad, we've yet to see it fully functioning on a phone. Android O brings the ability to keep a video playing while interacting with another app. To what extent this feature is incorporated by video apps like Netflix and HBO Now remains to be seen. But hopefully you'll be able to keep watching "Game Of Thrones" as you check the weather to see if winter is indeed coming. (Spoiler: It is.)
5. Lock screen shortcuts
On the lock screen in Android Nougat there is a microphone icon for quick access to Google Assistant and a camera icon for quick access to take a picture. Android O will allow you to customize your lock screen with even more shortcuts.
6. Autofill system wide
If you use a password manager app, Android O gives you easy yet secure access to it across your device via autofill. You will be able to select which password manager app you want to take advantage of a system wide autofill feature. This is similar to the way you can now select which keyboard to use across your apps on your phone.
7. Wide-gamut color
What the heck is wide-gamut color? Exactly. While this feature might not mean much to you now, it's really about future proofing. As displays improve with newer phones and tablets, your apps will be able to take full advantage of all the colors and their subtleties. Just imagine how amazing all your cat pics will look.
8. HiFi Bluetooth audio
Your phone will now be able to wirelessly stream higher quality audio. Obviously, to fully hear the higher quality depends on the quality of the audio recording and the speaker or headphone with which you're listening to it. This is a big plus for any audiophiles out there.
9. Keyboard shortcuts
Good news if you use a keyboard with an Android tablet: Android O gives better support for developers to make navigation and shortcuts easier to use via a physical keyboard. Could this pave the way for Android laptops, and maybe Chromebooks?
What's next for O?
This is a very early build of Android O so we can't say what other features will be added in the future. It's so early, that we don't even know what sweet treat Android O is named after! Oreo? Oatmeal cookie? Orangesicle? We have a few guesses as to what O could actually be.
We are bound to learn more in depth about the features we highlighted as well as any new ones at Google's annual software developer conference I/O, in May.
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