At Google I/O 2017, the search giant finally announced the first public beta of Android O - its next major software release. The beta version of Android O comes two months after the developer preview was announced in March. This is the second straight year that Google is making its upcoming OS available in the form of a public beta and it can be downloaded on eligible Pixel or Nexus devices by signing up at android.com/beta.
Android O improves on the fundamentals of Android and brings new features like Notification Dots, PIP mode and Autofill enhancements. Google made significant improvements to notifications last year with Android Nougat and this year, Notification Dots is a little circle that sits in the corner of an app icon indicating users that the app has an unread notification. Users can then simply long press to view them as a pop-up window or dismiss them without ever leaving the desktop.
With Android N last year, Google introduced multi-window support and with Android O, it is introducing Picture-in-Picture mode. The feature places a small video box on top of the desktop while other apps are open. The feature will essentially allow users to continue watching their YouTube or Netflix videos while performing other tasks like sending an email.
Sweet news! Celebrating 2 billion monthly active devices worldwide, made possible by you. Thank you for joining the @android journey! #io17pic.twitter.com/8R6MPYl0KT — Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) May 17, 2017
Google also showed how small improvements can be really meaningful in everyday activities. With Android O, Google is bringing its autofill feature already available on company's Chrome desktop browser. Once enabled, the system will guess contextual content like user name and password or credit card information for autofill applications. Google also demonstrated Smart Text Selection, which will highlight the whole segment in the case of names, telephone numbers and addresses. The feature will also offer suggested apps like dialer or maps depending upon the selection.
While the features in Android O do not seem to be groundbreaking, Google says the focus this time is on vital features like battery life, security, startup time and stability. Vitals is a new feature available for Play, allowing developers to spot issues that impact phone security, battery life to name a few. Google says Android is being used by over 2 billion active devices and the new features coming to Android O will further enhance the overall user experience.