Google launches Android 8 'O' developer preview

March 22, 2017 // 11:24 a.m.

Tags: #android #android-70 #android-80 #android-nougat #android-o #dave-burke #google

Google has officially released Android 8.0, codename Android O, to developers, promising improved battery life, better Bluetooth audio quality, and finer-grained control over the types of notifications applications are permitted to display.

Designed to take over from the Android 7.0 Nougat family, Android O - dessert-themed moniker yet to be announced - is, as usual, designed to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Released to developers late last night, many of the changes in Android O are of interest only to developers and manufacturers such as a new autofill application programming interface, font support in XML layouts, and adaptive icons which allow manufacturers to specify a preferred shape - such as square or circle - that should be used for by all applications to ensure a uniform appearance.

Other features, though, are of more general interest. Chief among these is the promise of improved battery life, building on work done to minimise the power drain of background tasks in Android Nougat with still further restrictions. 'We've put additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates,' explained Google's vice president of engineering Dave Burke in the release announcement 'These changes will make it easier to create apps that have minimal impact on a user's device and battery.'

Another welcome new feature is the ability to restrict applications from showing notifications by notification type - allowing users to, for example, block push advertising from a game while still allowing it to show a notification for the player's go in a turn-based title. The new build also adds picture-in-picture support, allowing videos to play in an overlay window while the user accesses a separate app in the background, and the promise of improved audio quality through the adoption of the LDAC Bluetooth audio codec.

Other notable features announced for the developer build of Android O include support for Wi-Fi Aware (formerly Neighbour Awareness Networking) for peer-to-peer communications, the ability to integrated third-party voice calling applications with the system user interface, on-by-default multiprocess for pop-up WebView windows, up to double the performance from the Android Runtime, and the introduction of the AAudio API for high-performance low-latency pro-grade audio tasks.

More details on Android O are available from the developer blog announcement, but while the company has promised to say more at its Google I/O event in May it is so far silent on a launch schedule for the OS.
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