Every version of Android since Android 1.5 (Cupcake) has been named after a sweet treat. It’s actually become a game to guess what the name of the next version. There weren’t many suitable O names to choose from, so most people guessed it would be Oreo. And so it came to pass…But its name isn’t the only thing that’s sweet about Android 8. While it might not be as jam-packed with features as other Android releases, Android Oreo has plenty of features that make it a must-download.
If you own a non-Google flagship device like the Galaxy S8 or OnePlus 5, you’ll likely have to wait a few months before Android Oreo hits your own phone. But if you’re curious about this new version, or if you have a Nexus or Pixel to test it out on, let’s go ahead and take a look at all of the new features and functionality in Android 8.0.
The most obvious change to the interface and navigation can be found in the Settings app.There’s a new icon inspired by Oreo’s aqua marine-accented motif, and many of the menus have been rejiggered and rearranged.
Of all the new stuff in Oreo, the feature everyone is going to want to try out first is picture-in-picture. This is a special type of split-screen window that should be particularly useful for watching videos while performing other tasks, though apps will need to be updated to support the new API. So far, the feature works with VLC and YouTube, though you need YouTube Red for the latter.
Autofill Framework will allow apps to create and manage their own lists of auto-fill data, then Android Oreo will populate this data into password fields when appropriate. By default, this feature uses passwords from your Google account, provided you’ve saved them in Chrome or with Smart Lock.So if you aren’t using a password manager, now’s a great time to start.
Battery life is always a big concern, which is why Google often makes improvements with new iterations of Android. The latest version of Android Oreo is no different, with Google increasing the automatic limits on what apps can do in the background in a number of key areas (broadcasts, background services, and location updates, for instance).
Every new Android release includes some changes to notifications, and like Nougat, Android Oreo brings some pretty big ones. Its starts with the notification shade.And there’s a new System icon that tells you the version of Android you’re running. The Night Light tile is gone as well.When a message comes through, but you don’t have time to deal with it, just swipe to the right, then tap the clock icon to snooze the notification. This will make the message go away for 15 minutes, then come right back when the time is up. You can also change the snooze length right after you’ve snoozed a notification.
Fingerprint Scanner Gestures
The Pixel and Pixel XL shipped with an exclusive feature that allowed users to expand their notification tray by swiping down on the phone’s fingerprint scanner. This feature has since been added to Nexus devices, but Google’s taking the fingerprint-swipe gesture to a whole new level in Android Oreo.
Third-party app developers can now use an Accessibility service to monitor the fingerprint scanner for swipes — both vertical and horizontal.
Smart Text Selection
The text selection menu in Android Oreo has also been updated. It now includes intelligent actions that can vary depending on the type of text you’ve selected. Select a URL, and Android 8.0 will suggest opening it in Chrome. Select a phone number, and the Dialer app will appear. An address, and Maps will pop-in, and so on.
Google has optimized much of Android Oreo behind the scenes to make your battery last longer, but there are a few things you can see. In the notification shade, a persistent notification will now alert you to any apps that are running in the background. You can also finally opt to display your battery percentage next to the status bar icon at the very top of your display.
Another expected feature is the addition of adaptive icons. This means developers will be able to use different-shaped app icons, depending on the manufacturer’s preference.
Better keyboard navigation
Another big change is the improvement of keyboard navigation. According to Google, more users are navigating to apps using a physical keyboard thanks to the arrival of the Play Store on the Google Chrome OS.
Camera app improvements
Google is spending some time reworking the camera app, offering a new double-tap feature that lets you quickly get to 50% zoom.
There’s also a new dedicated button that lets you switch between photo and video modes; previously, users were forced to swipe, which some may have found unintuitive.