Android 8.0 Oreo: Is it sweet enough to make you upgrade?

Following the Eclipse on the 21nd of August, Google announced that the next major update to the Android OS, will be called Android Oreo. If you didn’t see any Eclipse, that’s probably due to the fact that it was mainly visible in the U.S. Don’t worry, the next visible one in Nigeria is about… 10 months away.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnK3oPOR6Vg]

Not many people were surprised with Google’s choice to go with Oreo. It’s a famous treat and it’s a better option over Oatmeal Cookie (in my opinion). It’s also not the first time Google has partnered with a confectionary company for an Android name. The first was in 2013 with Android 4.4 KitKat and it was delicious.

Image Credit: Digital Trends

Fast forward to 2017. What has Google cooked up for us and is Android O a worthy successor? The answers are lots of tiny things and yes, it is! Most of the new changes and features in Android 8.0 are “behind the scene”. All working together to enrich the Android experience. Google has described Android O as “Smarter, safer and more powerful than ever”. Sweet!

On the outside (I mean visually), Oreo isn’t really different from its predecessor, Nougat. Both share a very familiar interface so it might be hard for you to spot their differences, if any. You’ll have to spend some time with it and dive a bit deeper to enjoy its potential. It’s majorly an update for security and better performance overall. So, what the things (or some of the things) Google has thrown into the Android OS:

  1. Google Play Protect: Even though Google tries its best to keep the Play Store as “clean” as possible, many malicious and dangerous apps still creep into the store and unto our devices. With Play Protect, there will be a real-time security scanner that scans apps for malware and data theft. Making Play Store much more safer for all.
  2. Picture-in-Picture (P-i-P): This will allow you launch certain apps in a small movable window while using another app or navigating through the phone. This means you can watch a YouTube video while checking your Twitter timeline. Android already has a Split-Screen multitasking feature where you can use two apps (that support the feature) at the same time so this a handy addition. Most apps that will take advantage of this will be multimedia apps. Apps like video players or video streamers or apps with multimedia capabilities built in. And yeah, Maps too. Unfortunately, you can’t P-i-P with YouTube unless you get YouTube Red – a paid ad-free version of YouTube which is only available in 5 countries at the moment. And no, we aren’t one of them.
  3. Notification Dots: When you get a new notification from an app, a dot will be generated based on the hue (colour) of that app and will rest on the top right side of the app. The dot indicates that you have new content within that app. It doesn’t display numbers as it’s not for unread messages. Only what’s new. You can then long press the dot and the notifications pop up. You can see what’s new or even swipe to dismiss them. The Notifications Dots are in sync with the Notification Bar. So if you swipe away an item in the Notification Bar, it will automatically disappear within the Notification Dot and vice versa.
  4. Smart Text Selection: With Oreo, Android can now understand what you trying to select and aids the process. For instance, if you are trying to select an address within a message, you can long press the street name and Android will auto-select the entire address. It will also give you the the option of checking the address in Google Map, instead of just “copy” or “cut”. If it’s a phone number, it will allow you open (or call) it with the phone app.
  5. Autofill APIs: Most browsers do a good job at remembering things like username and password for a particular site. They can also remember pins, numbers, address and some other stuffs. All usually at a browser level. With Oreo, Google is bringing it to an OS level. This means Android can remember your log in details for an app, saving you the stress of re-logging in. It also syncs with Google Chrome and can easily log you into the app version of online services like social networks. That’s if you have syncing turned on.
  6. Better Audio Support: Sony has “donated” its LDAC high bandwidth Bluetooth streaming protocol which will deliver great quality audio over Bluetooth. This will be enjoyed with headsets and speakers that support LDAC. Also, AAudio, a new API will be introduced in the Android O release. It will help with high-performance audio applications that require low latency.
  7. Project Treble: Perhaps the biggest of them all. This is another one of Google’s attempt to deliver faster updates to us and according to experts, it may work this time. Google rebuilt Android’s core so that OEMs can serve out OS updates without waiting for chipset makers like Qualcomm and MediaTek to add optimized silicon-specific code for each update. To give you a better understanding, look at the picture below:
    The current Android OS distribution process. Image Credit: Neowin.net

    Before our smartphone makers add their customizations to each update, chip makers have to add something called “silicon-specific code”. Its a code that prepares the chipset for future updates and customizations. The code is usually valid for two years and after which can’t accept any more updates. That’s why some Android users change their phones every year or two to avoid being stuck with the same OS. Treble seeks to bring and end to that. Bringing chipset independent updates to all Android phones. A small catch is that Treble will be majorly for phones that run Android Oreo out of the box.

  8. New Emoji: There is going a be major Emoji redesign with Oreo and the inclusion of over 60 new emoji. Google will be dumping the blob-like emoji for more ” circular” ones. Similar to ones used in WhatsApp and other mobile platforms.
  9. Faster Boot time and Performance: Gordon Kelly of Forbes claims that after installing the developer’s preview of Oreo on his Pixel XL, he witnessed an amazing boot up time with the device. From the usual one minute boot time to an impressive 15 seconds boot time. Apps also load up faster thanks to Oreo automatically clearly background cache when needed.

These are all some of the improvements in Android Oreo. We’ll enjoy this and more once the update is made available. Speaking of availability, Android O will be coming to Google’s range of Pixel devices first. Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, which may launch in October will probably be the first devices to run it out of the box. Updates for high-end devices may proceed shortly after.

Its safe to assume a global release of updates will be available by early 2018. Till then, what’s your favourite feature(s) of Android 8.0 Oreo?

Adeshola Ogunleye

Grown man in a young body but I use that to my advantage.

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