Android 8 “O” will be the next major Android operating system release to come from Google this year, and Google has just confirmed a bunch of new features at its annual developer conference for 2017: Google I/O.
Up until this point, very little was known for sure what Android O would bring. We still don’t know much, but what we do know is that the updates will focus on two distinct areas: “Fluid Experiences” and “Vitals“.
A big part of the first area is picture-in-picture support, a nod to the iOS feature of the same name that allows you, for example, to keep a Netflix or YouTube video playing in a small floating window while you browse the web, check your WhatsApp messages or scroll through your Twitter feed.
Also new is Autofill, which will no longer be restricted to Chrome; it’s now being extended to third-party apps. And there’s an improvement to productivity and cut-and-paste as well, through a feature called Smart Text Select. Using machine learning this automatically recognises items like place names, phones numbers and addresses, making it easier to select what you need quickly with a single tap.
Vitals is slightly more difficult to wrap your head around, since it focuses mainly on behind-the-scenes improvements. First up is a performance boost to Android’s runtime environment that, so Google says, will halve boot times and significantly speed up app launch times. This isn’t particularly significant for owners of the Pixel XLs or Samsung Galaxy S8s of this world, perhaps, but for those on less powerful hardware any speed assistance will be welcome.
But that’s not all. Google is also introducing Google Play Protect with Android O, a tool that will perform background scans of apps on your phone for security threats, even side-loaded software that hasn’t been installed via the Google Play store. Google will also be giving developers a bunch of new tools to help them produce apps that make more efficient use of resources such as CPU, memory and data use in a bid to improve battery life.
Google Lens is the first of these and it’s all about analysing live images rather than static ones. Fire up Google Lens from the Google Assistant, point your camera at everyday objects like buildings, flowers and signs and your phone will attempt to offer up relevant information on them. Lens will be able to offer to perform follow-up actions, such as adding a contact from a business card.
Google Assistant will now be able to interpret written free-text queries as well as those you speak at it. It also gains process payment-related actions, bringing it up to par with Amazon Alexa. Alas, you’re unlikely to be able to order anything via Amazon.
And a number of new developments will also be coming to Google Photos itself, including a host of new sharing tools and the ability to print and purchase photo books. The photo books service will only be available in the US at first, though, with more countries coming on board later this year.
Android O: What’s in a name?
The really important question, though, is what Google is going to name Android 8 “O”, and unfortunately, nothing regarding this question was announced at Google I/O.
If naming Android 8 “O” proves as tricky as “N”, it’s likely Google won’t bestow a name upon Android 8 until just before it launches – it may even open up the naming process to the public again.
To help all those Google bods reading this post right now (I know you definitely are!), here’s the Alphr team’s list of potential names of Android 8 “O”. Word of caution, Google, if you do use one of these names I’d like at least a 1% cut of all Android 8-based profits or a h/t in the developer notes.
Android 8 “O” release date: What Android 8 “O” could be called
- (Terry’s Chocolate) Orange
- Orange candy slices (you know the jelly ones your nan has at Christmas)
- Orbit (the chewing gum)
- Oatmeal cookies
- Orange Soda
- Oreo (the no-brainer, but would require a brand deal)
- Ovaltine (can this be classed as a sweet?)
- Oliebol (basically Dutch doughnuts)
- Ozark Pudding (a Minnesotan delicacy, apparently)
- Old Jamaica (it’s a Cadbury’ chocolate bar)
- Oplal Fruits (the old name for Starburst)
- Oh Henry! (A candy bar in the states)
- Orelletes (A Catalonian sweet treat)
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