With Android Nougat comfortably settled into a bunch of different smartphones, and the Google IO 2017 developer conference just two months away, all eyes in the mobile world now turn to what Google’s got planned for Android’s next revision.
Android SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer has pointed to Android O’s codename kicking off with a buttery biscuit Oreo base, but little else has even been hinted at yet.
However, Google has released the first developer preview for Android O and we’ve discovered some interesting features. They line up with what sources shared with 9to5Google before, and we anticipate seeing more detailed at IO in May.
Android O features
It’s a fairly long list of items, and only a few of them are confirmed at the moment. But going on both what’s real and what’s just a rumos, there’s a distinct lack of a headline feature to match last year’s Google Assistant launch.
Potential new features include:
Picture in picture mode: As is already seen on the iPad and some bespoke third-party launchers, as well as Google’s own Android TV platform, this would let you have one app (or app function, such as a video player) remain open and on top of another separate app plane. (Confirmed)
App icon badges: On oldie that’s been knocking around for years on iOS and some third-party launchers, this would bring at-a-glance waiting notification number bubbles to app icons on the homescreen, as a native Android feature.
Restricted background activities: A power saving feature, this would de-prioritize app functions running in the background, going easier on your battery at the possible expense of having to reload some app functionality that would otherwise have been ticking over in the background. (Confirmed)
Notifications: A vague suggestion that new notification types could be brought to Android, or that their current way of being displayed would change. (Confirmed)
Smart selection: Perhaps the most interesting and potentially useful teased feature, this would integrate with Google Assistant to scan app text, pre-emptively highlighting important information (like phone numbers and addresses) for more easy copy-and-pasting between apps and text entry fields.
Adaptive app icons: As the name suggests, this would let app icons change dynamically on homescreens. As a crude example, think of a calendar app icon that changed to show the appropriate date on a daily basis.
All this comes in addition to new, undisclosed features that will make Android more relevant and attractive to enterprise users. For now, take the list of features with a pinch of salt until fully confirmed, though there’s nothing here that sounds massively beyond the realms of possibility.