Google I/O 2017 keynote is in the books, and as usual, Google showed us a preview of the latest version of Android. Codenamed O, the next iteration of Google’s mobile operating system is coming this summer, but you can get your hands on the beta right now. Here are the best features you’ll see when it drops.
Just like with Android N, Google is offering a formal beta program for Android O. Device support for this build is much smaller than it was for the N preview, however, with only a handful of units being eligible:
- Nexus 6P
- Nexus 5X
- Google Pixel
- Google Pixel XL
- Nexus Player
- Pixel C
If you have any of those devices, you can jump in on the beta here. A word of caution, however: I do not recommend using this if it’s your only phone. This is very much a beta and not meant for daily use. You have been warned.
Not so brave? Here’s a list of what you’ll get when Android O drops this summer.
Google is bringing a new set of features to Android O that it calls “Fluid Experiences”. It includes Picture in Picture, Notification Dots, Autofill, and Smart Text Selection. Here’s a brief look at each one.
Picture in Picture Puts One App Above Another
In Android Nougat (7.x), we got the ability to run two apps on the screen at once with Multi-window. While a super useful feature in its own right, it’s not always best solution. So with O, Google is bringing Picture in Picture mode to the small screen. This will let users open an app in the foreground, while keeping something like a YouTube video running in a smaller window on top. The early implementation looks really solid so far.
Notification Dots Let You Know What Apps Have Notifications
If you’ve ever used something like Nova Launcher that has built-in notification “badges,” then you already know what Notification Dots are all about. Basically, this a quick way to see pending notifications (aside from using the notification bar, of course) on home screen icons. Unfortunately, they are exactly what the name suggests: dots. Not numbers or anything of the sort. It’s also unclear if these will work in the app drawer as well.
One cool thing about Notification Dots is the long-press action. With the long-press features introduced with Pixel Launcher, you are able to do more with home screen icons, and Notification Dots takes this a step further by allowing you to actually see the notification by long-pressing the icon. It’s rad.
Autofill Passwords in Apps
Chrome has had autofill features for a long time—be it passwords or form data. Now that feature is coming to Android apps as well. For example, if Chrome has your Twitter or Facebook login credentials saved, the app will autofill and login on your Android phone. This is a feature that’s way overdue, and I’m so glad to see it coming front and center in Android O.
Smart Text Selection Gives You Context-Aware Shortcuts