Android phones and tablets are about to learn some new tricks. Google has released the next version of Android. The Android Oreo update starts with better battery life and increased performance and will also include new security measures, easier text selection and a picture-in-picture feature for improved multitasking. Here's what Android Oreo will do for you when it becomes available for your phone, including some tricks coming just to Google's Pixel smartphones. (Image Credit: Google)
Once Android Oreo hits your phone, expect improved battery life, thanks to Google's Vitals initiative. Google's adding what it calls "wise limits" to create automatic caps for what apps can do in the background. These limits will curtail excessive use of background services and location updates, so your apps won't be able to do too much damage to your battery when you're not using them.
Android Oreo allows users to see notifications they've missed without pulling down the drop-down menu from the top of your screen. Apps with missed notifications will sport a badge that draws its color from the apps icon, so you can quickly scan your home screen to check out the state of affairs. (iOS users are familiar with this, with the red badges on their app icons.) A long-press on an app with a Notification Dot will open a menu (that looks like 3D Touch) of those missed notifications.
The Force is especially strong with devices running Android 8.1, which is currently limited to the Pixel and Pixel 2, which can access Star Wars-themed augmented reality (AR) stickers. After you've updated to 8.1, download this app and open the camera app to find the AR Stickers.
This one's just for Pixel 2 owners: After upgrading to Android 8.1, the Pixel 2 smartphone can finally utilize its Visual Core chip, which improves photo quality throughout the phone, including inside of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. Not only does it add greater detail to your images, but it also speeds up image processing.
The Vitals project driving Android Oreo development will also bring more speed and greater performance to Android devices. At the Google I/O 2017 developers conference in May, Android product manager Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson explained that the company has seen its Pixel handsets boot twice as fast, with similar gains in the Google Sheets app.
You'll be able to take that YouTube video or your video call as you switch from app to app, as Android Oreo will offer picture-in-picture (PiP) support throughout the OS. iOS users already enjoy picture-in-picture support, but only on the iPad. This feature will be all over Android devices as they get their Oreo updates, and users will activate it by simply hitting the home button while watching a video. PiP videos can be dismissed by simply swiping the clip away.
A clever, new feature will automatically turn your phone’s Wi-Fi back on based on your location. This way, your phone can connect to your home network when you arrive, saving you from any fiddling with the device.
To enable this feature, go to Network and Internet > WiFi > WiFi Preferences. Then toggle on the setting. Your phone will then use its location knowledge to reconnect to networks like your home Wi-fi. It’s a clever way to save on data usage and use the phone’s internal smarts without flipping the Wi-Fi on and off.