Google has started the rollout process for the Android 8.0 mobile operating system, which in classic Google fashion will take the name of a sweet food, and it will be Oreo.
First devices to receive the new OS are Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P devices, which already entered carrier testing, and Pixel C and Nexus Player devices, which are expected to receive it right after.
Hardware makers such as Essential, General Mobile, Nokia, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony are expected to roll out Android Orea to user devices by the end of the year.
For users that cannot wait their turn, Android engineers also pushed the operating system's source code to the public repositories of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), from where anyone can download Android Oreo images and install them on their devices.
Users who receive an Oreo update or install the OS manually can expect the following features:
Android 8.0 (API level 26) introduces adaptive launcher icons, which can display a variety of shapes across different device models. For example, an adaptive launcher icon can display a circular shape on one OEM device, and display a squircle on another device. Each device OEM provides a mask, which the system then uses to render all adaptive icons with the same shape. Adaptive launcher icons are also used in shortcuts, the Settings app, sharing dialogs, and the overview screen.
Users can save time filling out forms by using autofill in their devices. Android makes filling forms, such as account and credit card forms, easier with the introduction of the Autofill Framework. The Autofill Framework manages the communication between the app and an autofill service.
Android 8.0 (API level 26) allows you to instruct a TextView to let the text size expand or contract automatically to fill its layout based on the TextView's characteristics and boundaries. This setting makes it easier to optimize the text size on different screens with dynamic content.
Whenever an app runs in the background, it consumes some of the device's limited resources, like RAM. This can result in an impaired user experience, especially if the user is using a resource-intensive app, such as playing a game or watching video. To improve the user experience, Android 8.0 (API level 26) imposes limitations on what apps can do while running in the background. This document describes the changes to the operating system, and how you can update your app to work well under the new limitations.
Android developers of imaging apps can now take advantage of new devices that have a wide-gamut color capable display. To display wide gamut images, apps will need to enable a flag in their manifest (per activity) and load bitmaps with an embedded wide color profile (AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, DCI-P3, etc.).
Android 8.0 (API level 26) and Android Support Library 26 introduce support for APIs to request fonts from a provider application instead of bundling files into the APK or letting the APK download fonts. The Downloadable Fonts feature offers the following benefits: reduces the APK size and increases the app installation success rate.
Google Play Protect continuously works to keep your device, data and apps safe. It actively scans your device and is constantly improving to make sure you have the latest in mobile security. Your device is automatically scanned around the clock, so you can rest easy.
Android 8.0 (API level 26) introduces a new feature, Fonts in XML, which lets you use fonts as resources. This means, there is no need to bundle fonts as assets. Fonts are compiled in
R file and are automatically available in the system as a resource. You can then access these fonts with the help of a new resource type,
Android 8.0 (API level 26) introduces functionality for displaying notification badges on app icons in supported launchers. Notification badges show notifications associated with one or more notification channels in an app, which the user has not yet dismissed or acted on. Users can turn off badges for notification channels or apps from the Settings app. Notification badges are also known as notification dots). Users can also long-press on an app icon to glance at the notifications associated with a notification badge in supported launchers. Users can then dismiss or act on notifications from the long-press menu in a similar way to the notification drawer.
Starting in Android 8.0 (API level 26), notification channels allow you to create a user-customizable channel for each type of notification you want to display. Notification channels provide a unified system to help users manage notifications. When you target Android 8.0 (API level 26), you must implement one or more notification channels to display notifications to your users. If you don't target Android 8.0 (API level 26) but your app is used on devices running Android 8.0 (API level 26), your app behaves the same as it would on devices running Android 7.1 (API level 25) or lower.
Android 8.0 (API level 26) allows activities to launch in picture-in-picture (PIP) mode. PIP is a special type of multi-window mode mostly used for video playback. PIP mode is already available for Android TV; Android 8.0 makes the feature available on other Android devices.
These are only some of the few and more important changes. More details are available here.
Google brags that Android Oreo is almost twice as fast than previous versions. The company also claims that by tweaking how it handles background apps, it also reduced the amount of energy the OS drains from devices. We'll just have to wait and see how Oreo performs... if some of us ever get it.