Today, Google is launching Android Oreo, the eighth major version of Android. And while it’s more of an evolution than a complete change in operating system, there’s a lot in Oreo that should get attention. Here’s what you need to know about the update.
What’s New In Android Oreo?
The major bit of polish for Oreo that you’ll notice is that it’s been made faster with various performance tweaks. For example, apps have reduced permissions to run in the background, which is good from both a privacy and a speed perspective, and will also extend battery life. That means it’ll boot faster; twice as fast, at least on top of the line Android phones like the Pixel. Google is also building more “light” apps that will load quickly and let you get right to, say, scrolling through Instagram. Most attention-getting, there’s now a picture in picture mode, where you can run two apps at once. So you can Snapchat and play Pokemon Go at the same time. Look, work with us here, that’s all we do on our phones.
Notifications can also be snoozed, so if you’re sick of getting the same alert at 3am every day, you can delay it. They can also be bundled into topic-based categories that Google is calling “channels,” so if you get a lot of news notifications, you can put them all in one place.
To dig into the more technical stuff you might notice, Google is also introducing system-wide APIs for autofill and VoIPs apps. In practical terms for users, that means your phone can store your app handles and passwords, much like Chrome does on web browsers, and that you can more easily make voice calls and use call features while screwing around elsewhere on your phone. Oh, also, they redesigned your emoji. Sorry, fans of the the blobs, but it’s back to circles!
When Can I Download Android Oreo?
As usual, Google’s own devices get first crack: The Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C will see it “soon,” but if you’re adventurous, know what you’re doing, and own one of those, then you can download it and install it directly from Google. If that’s not you, well, then the bad news is you’ve got a long wait for a release date.
Thanks to the nature of Android, there are dozens of “splinters,” as each phone manufacturer and mobile network creates their own version. Your phone may not be compatible and if it is, it may take months for it to catch up to Google’s devices. Since Oreo has just come out, development teams will be hard at work trying to make it fit on the multitude of phones out there; phones older than a year or two probably won’t get Oreo at all.
So, if you’ve got an upgrade coming, congratulations! If not, well, you’ve got something to look forward to next year?