Good news Android fans: You can now test out a new version of the operating system with some fun features.
At its annual I/O conference on Wednesday, Google announced the first beta version of Android O is now available to download.
Google representatives didn’t go too deep into new details about the software. The company previously revealed some of the features when it released a developer preview of O in March.
Among the new features you’ll see in O are:
- A picture-in-picture mode that lets you view videos from YouTube and other compatible apps in a tiny window that floats over the home screen or other apps. You activate the feature by tapping on the home button while watching a video.
- “Notification dots,” which are tiny circles placed on app icons that inform you when those apps have new notifications. Instead of pulling down the notification shade to view a particular alert, you can now view it by pressing and holding on the icon of an app that has a notification dot.
- “Autofill with Google,” which moves autofill info from Chrome into certain Android apps. Google gave the example of having your Twitter login info automatically entered right from the app.
- Smarter text highlighting, which will allow you to select an entire name, phone number or address all at once by just double tapping on it. Depending on what you tap, you’ll then be able to do things such as adding a phone number to your contacts, or viewing a location in Google Maps.
- Google Play Protect, a security feature that the company says will automatically check your apps for vulnerabilities.
- A cleaner settings app that groups similar options together. Settings for WiFi, hot spots and mobile data, for example, are now collected together in a “Network & Internet” tab.
- More granular control over notifications, including the ability to “snooze” notifications for later.
- Promised improvements to battery life, Bluetooth and general performance. Google says O will have stricter controls over what apps can do in the background to save memory and battery life.
- “Project Treble,” which will allow device makers like Samsung or LG to issue their Android updates without having to wait for chipset makers such as Qualcomm to certify their chips work with the latest versions of the software. Google has famously struggled to get people to actually update their phones to new versions of Android. Only 7% of Android devices are using the eight-month-old Nougat update. Time will tell how much time this will actually save, though.
There are plenty other things, but the gist of the update is that it’s focused more on addressing annoyances than on offering flashy new features. Note that you’ll need a Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5P, or Nexus 6P smartphone to install the O beta.
Despite all its new capabilities, one thing Android O still doesn’t have is a name. Our money is on “Oreo.”
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