Google releases Android O developer preview with improved battery life, notifications

Google's latest version of Android introduces notification channels, autofill APIs, and more. The Android O preview supports Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(Image: File photo)

Google on Tuesday released the first developer preview of Android O, the next version of Android OS that will eventually be released to the masses. It's now available to download for developers.

Some of the new features Android O brings:

  • PIP for handsets and tablets: Picture-in-picture display is now available on phones and tablets, so users can continue watching a video while they're answering a chat or in another app.
  • Multi-display support: Users will be able to launch their screen activity on a remote display.
  • android-o-notifications.png
  • Notification channels: Developer controlled notification channels that are specified for one app. Users can change the behavior or block content.
  • Background limits: To help users conserve battery life, Android can now limit how apps function in the background.
  • Keyboard navigation: A more reliable, predictable model for "arrow" and "tab" navigation that aids both developers and end users, Google claims.
  • Autofill APIs: Allow users to select an autofill app, similar to the way they select a keyboard app. Third-party autofill apps will be supported thanks to new APIs.
  • Connectivity: Android O now supports high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs like the LDAC codec. New Wi-Fi features include Wi-Fi Aware, previously known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN). On supported devices, apps and nearby devices can discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an Internet access point.
  • Font resources in XML: Fonts are now a fully supported resource type in Android O.
  • Java 8 Language APIs and runtime optimizations: Android now supports several new Java Language APIs, including the new java.time API.

A follow-up to Android N ,is now available to consumers. Android O's developer preview includes an updated SDK with system images for testing on the Android Emulator, as well as Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C devices.


Developers building for wearables can now use an emulator for testing Android Wear 2.0 on Android O.

"Building on the work we began in Nougat, Android O puts a big priority on improving a user's battery life," wrote David Burke, vice president of engineering for Android, in a blog post.

It's not clear what "O" stands for and how it will be represented to consumers. As CNET pointed out, Google typically names new versions of Android alphabetically and after a candy or sweet.

Google offers instructions on how to install the preview on its developer website. It cautioned the first developer preview should only be downloaded by developers.

Google called the developer preview in "early days," and that there is stabilization and performance enhancements in the pipeline. It's likely to add new features as new previews are rolled out to developers.

"Over the course of the next several months, we'll be releasing updated developer previews, and we'll be doing a deep dive on all things Android at Google I/O in May," Google wrote in a blog post.

Google I/O 2017 is scheduled for May 17 to May 19 in Mountain View, Calif.

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