Google showed us a preview of the latest version of Android on Google I/O 2017 keynote, 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.
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
How many times has someone sent you a text with certain information—like an address, for example—and you had to copy and paste it into Google Maps? I’d like to think that happens to most people pretty regularly (or at least some form of the copy/paste/search analogy). Smart Text Selection is a new feature that will streamline that process by automatically selecting relevant text.
For example, if someone sends you an address, you can double tap the street name and it will automatically select the entire address. Or if it’s a business name, it will highlight the entire thing if you just select one word. It looks pretty brilliant.
To make this feature even more useful, Smart Text Selection will also offer quick actions in the suggests bar, so if you select a phone number, it will offer the dialer. An address will suggest maps. And so on.
Vitals: Speed, Security, and Battery Life
With each major release over the last two or so years, Google has put a lot of focus on Android optimization overall. Making the OS more efficient in both terms of performance and battery life has been a front-and-center effort, and Android O is no different.
With this release, Google is bringing a new set of optimizations it collectively refers to as “Vitals.” While slightly ambiguous at the keynote itself, we know that this will maximize security with Google Play Protect, optimize boot times and app performance, and intelligently limit background activity for apps to save battery life.