Google has started rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo for Pixel and Nexus devices that are in the Android Beta program.
While most Android owners can expect the usual wait to receive the latest version of Android, owners of Google's Nexus and Pixel handsets will get the update "soon".
However, Nexus and Pixel owners eager to try Oreo's new features can skip the wait by joining Google's Android Beta program, which is still open to newcomers. Once enrolled, the update should arrive as an OTA (over the air) or can be manually flashed with Android 8.0 system images.
There are single images for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C, but two different images for the Pixel and Pixel XL -- one for devices with Telstra, Rogers, TMO, Sprint, ISCC, and Project Fi, and a second for all other carriers for the two models.
Given the developer preview has been through several updates over the past year, most enthusiasts should be aware of key features arriving in Oreo.
It introduces 'notification dots', the Android version of Apple's red notification badges in iOS showing the number of un-dismissed notifications on each app icon. Long-pressing an icon in Oreo offers a short summary of notifications linked to a badge. Users can switch off this feature if they want.
For multitasking, it also has a picture-in-picture feature that displays video on a small window once the home button is pressed, allowing users to complete a task in another app.
Logging in to apps and filling in credit card details in forms should be easier thanks to Oreo's Autofill Framework, a new API that remembers credentials when signing into apps and websites. Password managers can also use the APIs. The feature will be available to older versions of Android via a Google Play Services update.
There are also a number of battery- and memory-saving techniques Google has been working on by restricting background app activity.
Finally, Oreo has also introduced Project Treble, a large project Google has worked on to overcome obstacles to handset makers delivering the latest version of Android.
Devices that ship with Android Oreo and later will benefit from Project Treble thanks to a standardized vendor interface that ensures handset makers aren't dependent on updates from system-on-chip vendors, such as Qualcomm, for pushing an Android update to end-users.
This interface should improve the status quo on Android distributions, with Nougat's adoption standing at just 13.5 percent a year after its release.
Project Treble also brings Google's latest efforts to prevent attackers exploiting bugs like Stagefright by sandboxing individual Hardware Abstraction Layers that support features like the GPS and microphone. Now, each HAL can only access the hardware driver that it controls.
Google is removing one more obstacle to installing its monthly Android security updates.
Months of sweet suspense have come to an end. Android O has a name.
Android O is almost ready to go, and thanks to Project Treble, more users than ever will get the newest version of Android.
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- How to get Android Oreo right now (CNET)
- How to save battery life in Android (TechRepublic)