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Android O new features overview: picture-in-picture, notification dots, better copy-paste and more

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Android O new features overview: picture-in-picture, notification dots, better copy-paste and more

The next version of Android, codenamed Android O, will come with a bunch of exciting new features that will bring improvements in the fluidity of the experience, as well as key areas such as battery life, faster start-up times and more, and Google just demonstrated a few of those at its 2017 Google I/O conference. And no, we still do not know what O stands for. Could be Orio, could be onions, could be anything.

It all started with a few interesting stats. The biggest one is a number: 2 billion. That is how many active Android devices are in the world, a staggering number. To get to so many active users, Google has to support a platform that works well on both the best and highest end phones, as well as on affordable devices. The Android O release brings improvements that will enhance the experience for both types.

The new Android O features that Google unveiled at I/O 2017 come in two main categories: fluid experiences and vitals. Let's start with fluid experiences.

#1: Android O: Fluid Experiences

Picture in Picture works in Android O

Picture in Picture works in Android O

Since split-screen multitasking does not work as well on a small phone screen as it does on a traditional desktop, in many cases it is more convenient to use Picture-in-Picture, and that's exactly what Google showed for Android O. This will allow you to keep a video chat or a YouTube video going, while you are jotting notes down or fixing up your calendar appointments.

Next, we have Notification Dots, which are a really cool new feature that is... a dot on top of an app icon to show that you have new notifications in that particular app. The dot color is automatically generated using the color of the icon itself, and you can neatly long press the icon to see the notification pertaining to that particular app.

Next, Android O will feature a powerful Autofill feature. This has been available in Chrome for a while, but it now comes in apps as well, allowing you to quickly log in without having to type those super-long and super-secure passwords you might hav.e

Another feature that we use on a daily basis is Copy Paste. Android O will improve it with Smart Paste Selection. Google uses its rich neural network to text to automatically know when you have a name, a number or an address, and simply double tapping them will select the whole name, so you don't have to fiddle with text selectors.

#2: Android O: Vitals

Improvements to speed, boot times and security

Improvements to speed, boot times and security

There are some seriously impressive new features coming to Android O in the Vitals section. First are the security enhancements. Did you know that Google scans over 50 billion apps every day on every connected device to detect potentially harmful apps? Many users do not, and that's why Google is bringing this check-ups front and center with Google Play Protect. This new feature is embedded in the Play Store, and allows you to manually scan apps for potential issues. 

Next up, Android O brings some cool OS optimizations. First, you will get twice as fast boot times on your Android phone. You also get much faster boot times for individual apps and in some particular cases like Google Sheets, you get a 2x improvement in speeds, so you can be much more productive.

Google also gives very detailed Developer Tools in O, breaking down network, memory and CPU in an easily visible tab in Android Studio. There is detailed breakdown for CPU processes for individual apps, something of great use to devs.

Last but not least, Google has now added Kotlin as an officially supported language for Android, in addition to Java and C++. You can download a Kotlin plugin and start developing right away in Android Studio. Kotlin is an open sourced project under Apache 2.0 license. Some popular companies like Expedia, Flipboard, Pinterest, and Square have already adopted the new language for their apps.

#The Next Billion: Android Go

Data management is front and center on Android Go devices

Data management is front and center on Android Go devices

A third development for Android O is the new Android Go project, which focuses on making Android run good on affordable devices with little memory. The emphasis is on optimization and bandwidth savings. Android Go comes with a new set of core Google apps that run fine on less data, features a new version of the Play store that highlights apps specifically designed for affordable devices. There is even a YouTube Go app that will allow you to save a lot of bandwidth by giving you data-optimized previews. Front and center is a new data management center that shows you exactly how much data you've used and that you can access in quick settings. Chrome Data Saver is also enabled by default on Android Go phones, and these would be phones with 1GB of RAM, or even 512MB of memory.

Final words

The Android O second beta release is available today at Android.com/beta, and you can get it running on the latest Nexus and Pixel devices. It is another a break-through release, but in a typical Google fashion, it steadily builds up on a successful foundation, making it more refined, faster, more fluid, better to use. Now, if only those Android O updates could come sooner...

source: Google

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posted on 17 May 2017, 15:26 12

1. vincelongman (Posts: 5068; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

Found a great summary on reddit
1. Android O features - Fluid Experiences, Vitals
2. Fluid Experiences - Picture-in-Picture, you're on a Duo call or watching YouTube, and when you press home it minimizes the video. Looks like a simpler way to do multiwindow. Chrome's autofill is coming to most apps, so you can pull your password in automatically, we already knew about this though. Intelligent text selection, so double tapping will select an entire address, name of a business, with auto suggestion to open in Maps.
3. TensorFlowLite - neural network API coming later this year to help Android access hardware to accelerate training for neural nets and stuff. Not sure how this will end up being used.
4. Vitals, Google focused on security enhancements, OS optimizations, and developer tools to minimize power consumption.
5. Google Play Protect - basically just a malware scanner built into the Google Play store.
6. Google claims apps will open twice as fast due to runtime changes at the OS level, even with no changes to the app itself.
7. More talk about how to optimize battery issues, limiting background location checks and stuff. The new developer tools look massively useful. Developers can see the top problems that users are having with their apps, and easily learn how to optimize or fix the major issues.
8. Kotlin is a new officially supported language for Android! Apparently the developers have been asking for this? Never heard of it actually.
9. First beta release of O available today, should include lots of the aforementioned features.
10. Android Go, lighter apps for Android O devices with 1 GB or less of memory. Different Google Services use less memory, take up less storage and CPU time. This looks like the software side of the Android One program. Data management is front and center on these devices, looks super useful for emerging markets like Indonesia, Brazil, and India.
11. YouTube Go, the lighter form of YouTube. You can see how much mobile data each video will use and select the resolution you want. Includes a built-in peer-to-peer sharing feature to transmit saved YouTube videos locally without using any mobile data.
12. GBoard - built-in Google Translate feature, looks cool as hell. You can type in English and translate into dozens of languages in the correct script without leaving the app.
13. Going forward, every Android release will have a "Go" configuration. Right now the devices have to have 1 GB or less RAM to qualify, not sure if that requirement will change in the future

posted on 17 May 2017, 15:29

2. Nopers (Posts: 468; Member since: 01 Jun 2015)

Sweet. I was expecting more, although they left out the app "dots" (would be more helpful if there was a number in there to tell you how many notifications that app has)

posted on 17 May 2017, 17:12 1

11. L0n3n1nja (Posts: 523; Member since: 12 Jul 2016)

My S7 shows how many notifications my apps each have, isn't that standard in Android already?

I've grown so use to Samsung phones that even when I still worked for Verizon most Android devices, especially stock Android, felt like they were stripped down and featureless.

posted on 17 May 2017, 18:55

13. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

Yes and no. Say for example I have Outlook notifications. Depending on how many other notifications from other apps I have, it will show a certain number of the messages I have (who they're from and the subject of the message). Say it shows the sender and subject for 4 messages, if I have another 5 new messages, it will show a "+5" at the bottom of the notification card, meaning there are 5 more messages not shown in the format I referenced above.

posted on 17 May 2017, 15:46 4

4. Bankz (Posts: 2015; Member since: 08 Apr 2016)

Probably the most boring android update of all time. Expected so much more from google.

posted on 17 May 2017, 15:49 17

5. parasshah100 (Posts: 63; Member since: 01 Jan 2016)

You're gonna have to lower your expectations then. Seriously these are a lot of improvements over the last version.

There isn't much Google can do to an already feature packed Mobile OS than to optimize it.

posted on 17 May 2017, 16:05 13

6. vincelongman (Posts: 5068; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

IMO this is the biggest update since Lollipop

Unlike Lollipop, most of these are major behind the scenes changes
Average users won't notice much

But Project Treble, TensorFlowLite, Kotlin, background location limits, background​ execution limits, Vitals, Go, Actions on Google, are huge changes for Devs, OEMs and power users

posted on 17 May 2017, 21:01 1

16. joey_sfb (Posts: 6600; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

I think most Android user would rejoice when they get their new O handset.

Still, a very hopeful future nevertheless.

posted on 21 May 2017, 08:49

28. steodoreben (Posts: 361; Member since: 26 Sep 2013)

I hope there's a default built-in offline dictionary just like the iOS and macOS so that I don't have to download various dictionary apps in Google Play store.

posted on 17 May 2017, 16:43

8. Guaire (Posts: 740; Member since: 15 Oct 2014)

I would like to see apps opening twice as fast. Hard to believe.

Less RAM, storage and CPU usage for all devices would be appreciated IMO.

posted on 17 May 2017, 15:39

3. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 1121; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)

I like the upcoming OS, but Im also glad that Im IT because most people would be able to keep up with Google and what they're trying to do lol

posted on 17 May 2017, 16:41 3

7. darkkjedii (Posts: 24899; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)

Looks like a great update. Kudos El Goog.

posted on 17 May 2017, 16:43 2

9. trojan_horse (Posts: 4928; Member since: 06 May 2016)

Picture-in-picture is an old TouchWiz stuff.

posted on 17 May 2017, 17:25

12. bucky (Posts: 3132; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

Even before tocuhwiz. But now you can have a fairly smooth OS AND split screen.

posted on 17 May 2017, 18:57 2

14. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

Actually Google was working on it in the core Android OS before Samsung was. The only problem was that they didn't have any phones with displays large enough to make use of it. Shortly after, Samsung launched the Note series, and implemented and polished the split screen feature.

posted on 18 May 2017, 03:40

23. trojan_horse (Posts: 4928; Member since: 06 May 2016)

Any source behind that claim? Just curious.

posted on 18 May 2017, 14:33

27. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

Something I read awhile back. There were preliminary versions it in either ICS or JB, but they didn't develop it beyond that, no doubt it wasn't ready for primetime yet. Samsung took the ball and ran with it as it was well suited to their Note line and tablets. Not saying Samsung didn't get it to the level it is today, just that Google didn't just all of the sudden copy them. I tried searching for the old link but now it's buried underneath all of the newer articles on the subject.

posted on 17 May 2017, 17:09 1

10. L0n3n1nja (Posts: 523; Member since: 12 Jul 2016)

Samsung phones already do the picture in picture multitasking, seems to work with any app now that I'm on nougat, and worked with a handful of apps back in 2013 on the Note 3 when Samsung introduced the feature. Nice to see Google implement something most Nexus owners claimed was a useless gimmick.

Otherwise looks like a nice list of changes to the background that most users won't notice, but should improve Android.

posted on 17 May 2017, 20:36 1

15. Arthurhkt (Posts: 582; Member since: 19 Apr 2012)

I wonder does the new white shade background and UI update will incorporate into AOSP or it's only available for Pixel phones only.

posted on 17 May 2017, 21:49

17. cnour (Posts: 1494; Member since: 11 Sep 2014)

How many years to get it on a phone?

posted on 17 May 2017, 22:38

18. L0n3n1nja (Posts: 523; Member since: 12 Jul 2016)

Without buying a new phone, probably some time next year. haha

posted on 17 May 2017, 23:31

19. ZeeNasir (Posts: 124; Member since: 25 Nov 2012)

Advance, better and cooler than IOS. :)

posted on 18 May 2017, 02:52

20. Amir123a (Posts: 84; Member since: 27 Aug 2016)

And even in 2017 there is still no youtube app/chrome or any other browser or app that supports youtube playing in android background (and no, firefox does not allow to play youtube in background anymore). Absolutely ridiculous! *facepalm*.
THIS feature ALONE is 10 times better than any feature mentioned in this article.

What are they thinking? Why are they not making this simple feature available in apps?

posted on 18 May 2017, 03:02

21. Plasticsh1t (Posts: 2176; Member since: 01 Sep 2014)

I believe there is a new Firefox plugin that allows you to play YouTube in the background. Check in their add on store and try it.

posted on 18 May 2017, 03:03

22. Plasticsh1t (Posts: 2176; Member since: 01 Sep 2014)

Or use OG YouTube.

posted on 18 May 2017, 04:59

24. Amir123a (Posts: 84; Member since: 27 Aug 2016)

What in the world are you talking about? When you give answer you should be more specific and clear, otherwise thre is no point in replying. I searched for in the play store for "firefox plugin" and "og youtube" and there are no relevant results.

posted on 18 May 2017, 06:35

25. Plasticsh1t (Posts: 2176; Member since: 01 Sep 2014)

You could've used Google search instead of the playstore as they are not available in there.

OG youtube:

As for the plugin, you should search in the add on store in the Firefox browser.

posted on 18 May 2017, 06:47

26. Cyberchum (Posts: 749; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)

You are too dumb and rude to be helped. You are not worthy of a detailed explanation.

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