Google has just announced the first developer preview of the next Android version, currently still called Android O. But unless you have a very recent Nexus or Pixel device and are brave enough to flash the images yourself, you’ll have to wait for the final release or, at the very least, an OTA update from the Beta program. In the meantime, however, Google has given enough appetizers to have Android fans salivating for the coming Android release, which is going to be a rather big one based on this list.
A good part of the announced Android O features have already been leaked before, so it’s pretty much a confirmation of those. Picture-in-Picture, for example, is really coming and not just to tablets but also to smartphones. The Adaptive Icons feature is a bit amusing. Apparently, it just means that a single icon can have different shapes, like square, rounded square, and circle.
There are quite a few under the hood enhancements as well, and chief among this is the new limits on background activity. The aim is to prolong battery life by reducing resource usage of apps that are running behind the scenes. These include apps that constantly update themselves in the background as well as those that constantly try to get a fix on the phone’s location. This could trip up app developers though, so it’s probably a good cue to ensure their apps will still behave properly in Android O.
Android O is also putting a lot of focus on audio. In addition to a new AAudio API for low-latency sound, Google has worked closely with its hardware partners, specifically Sony, to improve wireless audio handling via the Bluetooth LDAC codec. Google boasts that its hardware partners have contributed significantly to improving Android O, though doesn’t go into much detail where and how.
Although not as radical as the change from Dalvik to ART, Android O’s platform changes will still probably rock the Android boat at its core. Especially with the addition of Java 8 language features for developers. This is probably why Google is putting out the developer preview extra early and, unlike before, outside of its beta preview program, to give devs a chance to get started ASAP. For the brave and adventurous who want to experience the big “O” for themselves, check out our handy guide on how to get and install the latest Android version on your compatible device.