Android Oreo release date, features and compatibility

Update: Google has unveiled Android Oreo, its latest major operating system update that will release in the coming days. While you wait for the update to come to your phone, read about what’s coming in the Double Stuf’d upgrade below. 

Original article follows below.

Android Oreo is the official name of the next version of Google’s mega-popular mobile operating system set to release soon. 

Whether you have installed the Android Oreo developer preview or if you’re still playing it cool with the more stable Android Nougat, the update will arrive and install without much effort at all. 

If you aren’t notified, you can try to check for the update in the settings menu, but keep in mind that Google is rolling the update out in phases. Of course, we’ll be keeping you abreast of when it officially debuts. 

To be eligible for the update, you'll need to have a Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X or Pixel C to get started. 

Don't have a Google-branded phone? The company announced Project Treble, an initiative that will ensure that Android Oreo comes to many more devices than previous operating system updates. Additionally, the list of supported devices undoubtedly grow as the year goes on, with the Google Pixel 2 rumored to launch soon.

Follow along as we dive into a list of confirmed features, all of which are available right now in the beta. 

Confirmed Android O features

Picture in Picture (PiP) mode

As is already seen on the iPad and some bespoke third-party launchers for Android, this would natively allow you to have one supported app remain lay on top of another separate app.

This is a minor feature, but one that makes multitasking less of a compromise than split-window mode and more of a relaxed experience. In our experience, PiP is in working order and operates as intended when watching a YouTube video.

Faster boot times

While speedy boot times are usually associated with a step-up in hardware. But Google unveiled that Android O will bring those benefits to all phones that run the software.

And it's not just the operating system that becomes faster to load up, but the apps on your phone can start running faster, too.

Restricted background activities

This is a power-saving feature that de-prioritizes app functions running in the background, which in turn means that your battery is going to possibly last much longer than it currently does on Android Nougat.

Paired with likely improvements to the Doze function that intelligently saves battery during down-time, it’s feasible that Android O could help squeeze an extra handful of hours out of your phone. 

Contextual press-to-hold options

In an e-mail trying to copy an address so that you can paste it into Google Maps? No more, says Android O. By using machine learning, the OS can now recognize which app is best for the string of characters you're working with. Another example included being able to highlight a phone number and pop right into the dialer.

Adaptive icons

As the name suggests, Google has introduced strict design guidelines for developers to adhere to that will help to create a unified visual style across more apps.

In addition, these new app icons will animate based on user interaction and…have you seen the animation demo? Look up. It looks awesome.

It seems that Google hasn't rolled out these nifty icons yet, but hopefully we can look forward to them coming in the final release.

Boosted audio performance

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first Android phone to come installed with Bluetooth 5, a technology that will widen the bandwidth and raise the speed limit in the wireless pipeline for your content to travel through and thus, enhance the quality of audio content sent wirelessly between your phone and headphones.

And while many devices will follow suit, audio quality on Android is going to get yet another boost thanks to Android O’s native support for LDAC, Sony’s hi-res Bluetooth audio codec.

In the developer options, we’re already seeing tons of options for tweaking the bitrate for audio and we expect more advancements to come down the line. This one could be a big deal, especially for those holding out on buying into the best wireless headphones.

This is all good news, especially since the Google Pixel 2 might not have a headphone jack.

Notification dots

An oldie that's been knocking around for years on iOS and some third-party launchers, this brings an at-a-glance notification bubble to app icons on the homescreen as a native Android feature.

Unlike iOS, Android O doesn't tell you how many pending alerts you have within a given app, but knowing where to direct your attention at the very least is a good thing.

New emoji

Google is finally replacing the gumdrop emoji style from older versions of Android and is now making rounder face icons for Android O. 

There are also new emoji in the form of starstruck, throwing up, fairy, mermaid, giraffe, wizard and even more options.

Easter egg

It wouldn't be a new version of Android without a new easter egg mini-game to try out. Oddly enough, the developer preview of O also comes with Android Nougat's odd cat-feeding mini game.

But onto O, clicking and holding on the OS' logo takes us to a mysterious, empty screen with nothing but an octopus on it. Could O be a stand-in for "Octopus"? It's not likely.

Either way, this mini-game is pretty basic and not really much of a game at all. You can pull the octopus around the screen, watching as its legs flop all over the place. And…that's it. If Android O opts for a different name, expect a new and improved mini-game to follow.

We'll be expanding this feature whenever Google introduces new features, as well as when new smartphones add support for Oreo.

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