The next big Android update, scheduled for release later this year, won’t be a major overhaul. Instead it will get under-the-hood refinements and some new tricks.
Android version 8, codenamed O (owh), will see significant gains in performance – it will be optimised to limit background activity of apps to help free up memory and increase battery life.
This is a much needed tweak as Android phones are notorious for having apps running excessively in the background, which is why some tend to lag and overheat after prolonged use. iOS does not have all these issues because it already had this feature of capping background apps’ resource consumption for years.
Aside from the performance boost, Android O will have several new features to improve productivity on the smartphone.
One is Picture-in-Picture (PIP) support, which lets you continue watching a video in a small window while you use other apps in the background.
You can also do PIP when you make a video conference call, so you can multitask without hiding away the video chat.
This can be activated by pressing the home button while a video is playing, and the video can be moved around the screen so that it won’t get in the way of what you’re doing.
Samsung actually had this feature on TouchWiz, but with Android O, owners of non-Samsung phones will get to use this feature.
Another useful feature is Smart Text Selection. Using Android’s new Machine Learning magic, Android O recognises and automatically selects addresses or business names from a body of text when you tap on them. It makes copy and paste faster.
Filling up forms on a smartphone is also quicker with Autofill. You can sign in apps or fill up forms without typing in the credentials, Android automatically fills them up for you after learning your previous input. It’s a real time saver.
Also borrowed from iOS is Notification Dots, which shows small dots on the app icon’s top right corner to indicate incoming notifications such as messages or emails. Users can even preview these notifications by long-pressing the app icon, kind of like 3D Touch on iOS.
Overall, the next Android will not have a radical change in look and feel, but the refinements and improved battery life are definitely welcome.
As for the codename, Google hasn’t finalised on which sweet candy it will use to name its next version of Android after Nougat, but Oreo sounds like an obvious candidate.
During the recent Google I/O Developer Conference, Google also announced Android One, a lighter version of Android which will be deployed on phones in emerging markets.
According to the search giant, Android has crossed two billion active monthly users globally.