Google’s I/O developer conference is underway in beautiful Mountain View, California. During the tech giant’s keynote address, time was set aside near the three fourth’s mark to discuss what’s coming in the next release of Android, the company’s mobile operating system. As promised back when Google released the alpha version of the new software a mere two months ago, we’re getting an update to the platform in the form of a second developer preview. Google also announced the arrival of Android Beta program for Android O, which allow the average consumer to test the platform and report feedback for the next beta release.
We knew a vast majority of what’s to be included in Android O heading into today’s events. However, Google highlighted some of the major new features that will be included with the release due out this Fall. Only the big things were touched on, and we even got some nice surprises which you could tell Google is excited and passionate about. That’s why we created this post to walk you though some of the stuff Google talked about today that pertains to the platform update.
Google’s upcoming release can be broken down into two categories, fluid experiences and vitals. Google’s Vice President of Android, Dave Burke, talked through some of the new features rather fast, so we’ll do our best job at breaking them down into simpler terms for you. Fluid experiences are features designed to help users manage their information on their mobile device in a way that’s convenient and safe. The concept behind Vitals is to keep one’s device reliable by maximizing performance. Here’s our roundup of what Google announced.
Picture-in-Picture mode is one solution that could help users multi-task more easily in Android O. Tapping the home button while in an app such as YouTube will minimize the window allowing users to navigate their device while watching the video at the same time. Users can move it around the screen and even work in other apps while listening to the video’s audio and watching it.
Picture-in-Picture will even work with apps like Duo, Google’s consumer-friendly video chatting app. This could allow you set a reminder or jot down some notes while still in a video call. Best of all, other video apps will gain support for the feature with time, and third-party developers can add the functionality into their own apps as well through Google’s new API. Netflix is just one company who will support it at launch.
During Google’s announcement of Android O, the company announced a surprise in that of what they’re calling ‘Notification Dots’. Notification Dots are essentially badges that appear on app icons to show that you have unread notifications, but there’s more to them. These dots that will appear on one’s homescreen in Android O, indicating to the user that there’s activity going on. Pending notifications will show a dot and appear in the shade until dismissed, as usual. However, holding on an app’s icon with a dot present will bring up a notification preview. The color of the dot will also match the icon’s color. This will be open to app developers to implement in their own apps with Android O.
In Android O, everything we know autofill to be in Google’s web browser, Chrome, is coming to apps. This means that users will be able to seamlessly sync their address and password information cross-platform. It’ll always be there, and is encrypted from the very core to keep things secure. Upon opening an app, any app, to sign into, users can use autofill universally to complete blanks such as forms, log-ins and shipping information with a tap of an account username. Device owners will be prompted to opt into the feature when first booting up their device for the first time, and the addition is open to personalization by the developer community.
Smart Text Selection
Smart Text Selection is another new feature that will be available starting with Android O. With this ability, Google wants to make it easier to simply learn more or obtain more information from text. The feature works by double tapping on a keyword or phrase. If it’s an address or phone number, Google will be able to recognize it using machine learning and will highlight the full phrase. The good part takes place once the text is highlighted. From there, the standard copy paste menu pops up but with new suggestions. For example, if you’ve highlighted an address, Google will suggest that you open it in Google Maps. The underlying purpose of doing this is to eliminate the cut and pasting and switching between apps to conduct searches. At launch, many of Google’s own apps will be used for suggestions. Detection of key inputs will become more advanced with time and usage.
Google announced TensorFlow Lite, a specialized version of the open source machine learning library. This will allow users to more easily develop their own experiences for Android O. It comes with a new Neuronetwork API, one that Google hopes will empower next generation speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more. Google says that the API is to become available in Android O later this year.
Google Play Protect
Google made it clear that security is at the heart of what they do. The company announced that machine learning is now being used to scan apps on the Play Store, daily. In fact, Google brought up a stat during its press event that over 50 billion apps are scanned on the Play Store each and every day ranging across over 1 billion devices. To make this more visible, the tech giant announced Google Play Protect, which will show users under the ‘my apps and games’ section of the Play Store that their handset is safe.
With Android O, Google has made “extensive changes to run-time” that make apps faster to load, as well as one’s device. One example Google pulled up during it announcement was Google Sheets, which in Android O, ran two times faster than speeds reached on Android Nougat. Google has also put limits on background location and background execution to protect battery life and free up memory.
Play Console Dashboards
Play Console Dashboards are new for app developers and help locate causes to a variety of problems. Developers can learn how many users are affected by the issues and even provide guidance on the best ways to fix these problems.
New to Android Studio are Profiling tools. Google calls these ‘Android Studio Profilers’. The functionality is essentially a timeline that shows developers what may or may not be wrong with their app. One can even jump the coder back to the exact line of code that may be causing an issue.
Android O comes with a refreshed emoji library. Added are some new emoji that come with Emoji 5.0 (Unicode 10.0 Beta) which is to be supported at launch. Some of these include starstruck, someone throwing up, a wizard, a mermaid, a fairy, a pretzel, and a giraffe. Existing emoji that we have on Android Nougat have been refreshed and look a bit different. Due note that because emoji galleries vary by manufacturer, just because they look different on your Android O device doesn’t mean they will on the receiving end of the conversation. The exception of course being that both the sender and receiver have a Nexus or Pixel device with Android O installed. The image above comes from Emojipedia.
Ah, yes, that moment when most us watching the keynote went, what? Google introduced a second programming language for the Android mobile operating system today, Kotlin, which has already existed and is by no means new. Merely it’s an extension to how users can develop their apps for the Android system. The user interface is easier to use and can increase productivity by a whole bunch, that is, if you’ve learned how to write in it. Google also confirmed a report that Project Treble is indeed real. And that’s Android O in a nutshell people.
Android O is available in the form of a second developer preview starting today. The update is also in beta now, so owners of a compatible Android handset can test it out and report feedback to Google through the Android Beta Program. For full information on the build release, hit here or go here to learn more about the minor new things that’ll appear in the software preview.
Stay tuned to none-other than Droid Turf throughout the day for all coverage out of Google I/O 2017, as we’re your one stop destination for extensive coverage of the Android Ecosystem.
SOURCE [Android Developers]