Before digging into the Oreo features, let’s discuss why every and this new Android update has been important to us. Android is the physical manifestation of what a truly open platform should look like. Ever since its inception around 10 years ago, Android has catered to every user uniquely. Instead of tying people down a single feature set and looks, Android gives people the option to opt in and out of customizations as and when they want. This enables users to reflect their own identity and personality on their devices. After all the ethos with Android is –
be together, not the same.
The open nature of Android enables a lot of possibilities for the platform. It allows anyone from a hobbyist to a professional working at a software giant, to tap into the Android source code and tinker around with it. This openness has flourished an entire community of modders and developers building new ROMs for their devices. Agreed that OEMs only guarantee around 2 years worth of software updates but with this thriving community of enthusiasts, you can get anywhere around 4 to 5 years worth of updates if you are on a custom ROM like LineageOS.
The Android ecosystem is also pretty diverse, the accessibility to the software stack provided by Google has enabled a number of companies to build products that are powered by Android but are not phones. This range anywhere from televisions, wrist watches and smart speakers to even weird ones like refrigerators. Apple may have started the smartphone era, but Android is what has truly democratized it.
Android, like any other operating system, follows an annual release cycle. Google works on a new release of Android for a year and then they gradually start rolling it out in form of betas until the build is stable enough for a public rollout. Google has been following this trend of releasing the beta version for their OS since 2014 and with each year they’re trying to reduce the time it takes to push out the new versions that can be used by OEMs to deliver updates. In the last 2 cycles, the release timeline has reduced by over 2 months.
This year, just like every other year in the past Google released the beta for Android O and over the months they iterated over it took to finalize the details and on August 21st right when the solar eclipse was in progress in the US, Google unveiled the next iteration to Android along with its tasty treat name, Android Oreo.
Android Oreo bumps up the Android version number to 8.0 and introduces a number of features and enhancements. While there aren’t many visually striking changes from the last release Android Nougat, it certainly does manage to make the platform a lot more secure and reliable. The agenda behind Android Oreo is to increase the quality of experience that people have on Android and build on top of everything great Android 7.0 has to offer. In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s new in android 8 has to offer. So without wasting any time, let’s get started with the list.
Table of Contents
1. New Quick Settings Design
Quick Settings are one of the most used UI element on Android. It quickly gives users access to the most used toggles on your Android device. In Android Oreo, the Quick Settings section has a new design unlike previous versions of Android which had a darker notification shade and Quick Settings section, Android Oreo opts in for a more lighter look. The shade is now white and light gray compared to the dark gray counterpart available on older Android versions. This is probably the most significant UI change in Android Oreo but it has been received with mixed feelings. Let us know in the comments if you like the look.
2. New Settings App
Android Nougat introduced a navigation drawer in the Settings app for allowing users to jump from one section to another without an inconvenience of an extra tap. Android Oreo ditches that change and rolls back to the standard Settings app without a navigation drawer. Instead, Google has redone the subsections to be more informative. The individual setting sections now provide a quick overview about the toggle and other handy information. You can see this redesign in multiple places but probably the most prominent one would be the battery section. It now has helpful information like time of last charge and time remaining right on top to allow for a quick glance. Over all, not much has changed radically in here.
3. New Easter Egg
One of the most anticipated pieces of any Android release happens to be the easter egg. It’s a tiny little feature hidden inside the about section of the Settings app. Sometimes it’s a game and some times it’s just a banner. Like all its predecessors Android Oreo also comes with a new easter egg. Head over to the Settings app and scroll down to about. Then tap on the Android Version a bunch of times to be greeted with a giant material design O. Tapping on it further would launch the actual easter egg, the octopus. It’s an Android Octopus which you can play with by dragging it around. That’s it. Nothing too exciting going for it here. Although since the name was chosen was Oreo I expected it to bring in some sweet Cadbury goodness into the easter egg.
4. New Notifications Shade
Along with the Quick Settings panel, the notifications shade has also received a redesign. The color is again similar to the quick settings section but what’s changed here is the way actual notifications show up here. There’s a slick new animation whenever a bunch of notifications has arrived and you bring the shade down. It’s hard to explain it in the text but the change is pretty subtle. Persistent notifications like the one you receive in Google Maps navigation have also received a redesigned. They’re now smaller and a tad bit darker than other notifications to set them apart. Media notifications from apps like Google Play Music now have a more colorful background, picking up from the most prominent color in the album art and it looks pretty sweet.
5. Notification Dots
Notifications are one of the most key things that tie the Android framework together. It allows users to be informed about the activity that’s ongoing in their apps. With Android Oreo, notifications have a new way of surfacing themselves. It’s in the form of dots on app icons. Nougat introduced app shortcuts for app icons and Oreo is adding new capabilities to that features with Android Oreo you’ll be able to see the exact content of notifications by tapping on the app icons. It almost feels like it was created as an answer to 3D touch on iPhones.
6. Rescue Party
This particular feature has been uncovered only recent. Sometimes due to a faulty updates process or due to flashing an incorrect file, the device enters a boot loop where it is unable to boot into the OS and you’re stuck at the loading screen. This is actually more common than you’d expect. There’s been an entire lawsuit around this issue on the Nexus 6P. In order to make it less painful, Android Oreo comes with a feature called rescue party which will force a boot looping device to enter recovery mode so that a user can factory reset the device and get the phone back to a working state. According to Google, Rescue Party won’t require any additional hardware support from OEMs and they’ll still have the option to disable this. But by default, it will be enabled on all Android Oreo running devices. This is going to save a lot of people from the trouble of actually sending in their devices for repair simply because of a software flaw.
7. Picture in Picture
Android Nougat introduced multi window so that you can use 2 apps at once by essentially splitting your screen. Android Oreo adds an extra layer of icing to the cake with Picture In Picture. With Picture in Picture, a video playback app or a video calling app can continue playback on a small section of the screen in a floating window while allowing you to still use your device normally. This will allow you to browse the web while you’re listening to the live concert of your favorite band or video chatting with your mate. If you want to take it to a whole different level just use Picture in Picture with multi window mode for a truly productive experience (sarcasm).
8. Background Limits
On earlier versions of Android, apps could freely linger around in the background, killing the battery and consuming network resources. With Android Oreo, there’s a strict limit to background tasks. Apps will only have a small window to exist as a background process before they’re killed. In that window, they must make their background services a foreground service along with a persistent notification to inform users that something is going on in the background. Apps like Facebook can no longer keep running in the background, hogging away resources and power. This has been designed to improve the battery health of Android devices which have inherently been inferior to their iOS counterpart.
Conclusion – Oreo Features
There are way more oreo android features that are mostly enhancements under the hood and minor changes which aren’t worth covering. Overall, Android Oreo is truly a mature operating system and does end up adding some really useful enhancements to the Android platform. Android has been around for so many years now that it doesn’t really need to make a lot of noise or pack in gimmicks to prove it’s point and Oreo lives up to this statement. With most enhancements being internal to the system to allow for a more stable overall experience, Oreo is definitely the best Android version so far.