Android 8.0 Oreo, the latest version of the Android operating system from Google that powers over a billion smartphones was launched on the 21st of August, 2017, after series of beta testing and developer previews. As usual, Oreo brings big improvements in existing features and exciting new features to improve user experience on the Android OS.
Here is a summary of all the new features offered by Android 8.0 Oreo.
Android 8.0 Oreo – New Features and Improvements
The new features in Android Oreo span from design and layout tweaks that make navigation and user experience a lot better, to under the hood improvements to allow for more control and power efficiency.
The Google Pixel smartphone, which launched with Android 7.0 Nougat brought with it a feature that allowed users to use rounded icons for app shortcuts on their home screen, but this meant more work for Android app developers as it means they would have to include circle-shaped icons along with their apps, in addition to Android’s default free form and square icons, and Samsung’s squircle (square + circle) icons. This easily results in fragmentation as not all developers would comply with this and you end up getting different icon shapes on your home screen. Not very pretty, is it?
Android 8.0 Oreo fixes this issue with the introduction of Adaptive Icons, which allows app developers to create a single icon for their apps, which would then be automatically fitted into different shapes on the home screen and launcher based on the user’s preferences. This provides a uniform app icon layout on smartphones.
One of the most useful features that debuted with Android 7.0 Nougat was split-screen mode, a feature that allows you to use two apps stacked on top of each other with equal widths on the screen, simultaneously. It is of great benefit to people who perform tasks like writing and reading on their smartphones, and Oreo extends this even further with Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode.
Picture-in-Picture mode allows you to reduce the size of apps to a considerably small level, and you can use that app along with others in the phone foreground. It currently works with VLC and YouTube Red, but we expect other app developers to add support for the feature very soon as more smartphones get updated to the latest Android version.
The PiP mode has been available on Android TV for a while, and it’s good that it’s finally coming to Android smartphones. The advantage this has over the conventional split screen mode on Nougat is that it allows you to use apps in free-form video mode, instead of the fixed width a height that the former offers.
iOS users have had this feature for long, and it’s finally coming to Android with Oreo. Android apps can now include support for Notification Badges which adds a small dot to the top right side of application icons in the launcher and home screen when there is an unread notification for that app. The dot matches the colour of its parent app, and a long-press on the app icon will give a summary of all the unread notifications, which upon tapping will launch the app and display the appropriate content.
Emojis are becoming an integral part of our day to day chats and conservation on the smartphone, and Android Oreo is bringing with it 60 new emojis directly built into the Android framework. Default Android emojis don’t have many fans because of their scary design and terrible implementation when considered with those available on popular chat apps like WhatsApp and Slack. Android 8.0 Oreo aims to eliminate that, bringing with it a fresh circular emoji design as compared to the gumdrop design that has been in use since the advent of the Android operating system.
Background Execution Limits
Battery life on standby is always a source of concern, and Google tries to provide a fix in every new version of Android released. Marshmallow came with a useful feature called Doze Mode which helps to restrict apps running unnecessary tasks in the background. This feature was improved upon in Nougat, and Oreo extends it with the new Background Execution Limits feature which further restricts the number of background tasks and broadcast senders/receivers that an application can operate when the phone is on standby.
Oreo also comes with a Background Location Limits which restricts the number of times an application can request for location updates from the device system to a few times each hour. As you must have figured out by now if you’ve been into the Android game for some time, location tracking via GPS drains battery a lot, so this new feature aims to fix that, and there are no sacred cows as all apps have to comply to the rules of the features.
Individual Notification Snoozing
Notifications are very useful in Android as they allow you to know about important happenings on your device in time, but there’s no denying that there are times when we wish we could just stop that notification from popping up, especially if it’s an app like WhatsApp that sends notifications almost every minute. Android 8.0 Oreo puts the control of notifications into your hands, allowing you to snooze notifications individually.
When a notification pops up on the status bar, all you need to do is just swipe to the right and tap on the clock icon to snooze it for 15 minutes. You can also adjust the time to up to two hours after snoozing the notification.
You can also categorize notifications using a new feature in Oreo called Notification Channels which allows you to control the priority and visibility of notifications from individual apps.
Fingerprint Scanner Gestures
If you bought a smartphone with a fingerprint scanner recently, you’ll notice that you can use the scanner for more than unlock your smartphone. Nowadays, fingerprint sensors can be used to take pictures, scroll through the gallery, pick incoming calls and perform many other tasks. Android Oreo is taking this to the next level, allowing app developers to implement custom fingerprint scanner gestures when the scanner is used within the app.
With Android 8.0, apps (when updated to support the feature) can perform specific actions based on your gestures on the fingerprint scanner. An example is a browser scrolling through webpages and a launcher flipping between home screen pages when you swipe horizontally on the scanner.