Are you curious about what Google has been cooking up in its Android O development laboratory for the past year? We present to you everything there is to know about the next version of Android and a definitive guide to get Android 8.0 right now!
It just seems like yesterday Google has us all guessing what tasty treat Android 7.0 aka Android N would be named after. A year later with the Mountain View company releasing Android 7.0 Nougat with the first-ever self-developed Google Pixel, everything seems to go down smoothly.
While Android 7.0 Nougat has made its way to most of the flagship Android devices by now and thousands are still in line, the development line isn’t halting. Android is set to take the stage this year at Google I/O 2017 and unveil Android 8.0 (codename Android O), as the successor to Android Nougat.
What is the public release date for Android O?
Despite the fact the Google likes to make a show out of each major announcement they make, there’s a whole lot of information that has already been unveiled about Android O. Instead of waiting until May 17, the first look at Android 8.0 has been offered in the form of the first developer preview, to help creators shape up their apps for the public release later in 2017.
As the order of hierarchy goes in the world of Android devices, Google-branded devices will be the first to receive Android 8.0 update. Despite this fact that the latest Android OS version is expected to be released this month and already has a developer preview version out, it will take months for Android O public release, and even longer for OEM Android devices.
Why isn’t Android O part of the Android Beta Program yet
Considering that Google already has its current Android version in developmental progress under a beta program, getting Android O right now has become a tricky subject. Android Beta program for compatible Google Pixel and Nexus devices is running on Android 7.1.1, and rumors suggest that Android Nougat beta development could cease at Android 7.1.2.
As the official announcement date at Google I/O draws near, it is expected that Android Beta Program will be switched to focus on Android 8.0 by the end of May. Obviously, Google Pixel and Nexus devices will be the first one in line for the upcoming Android O beta program, so you might have a few months of waiting left, depending on your device.
What Android O features do we know about so far?
There’s always a certain set of standards set for every new Android version that is released, and Android O will be no exception. While Android 7.0 already offers a fluidic user interface and seamless performance, the first developer preview of Android 8.0 offers an evolutionary element at each step.
While the public release of Android O (probably with Google Pixel 2) isn’t expected before fall of 2017, Google does offer a glimpse of what to expect. After testing out the developer preview ourselves, there are some improvements over old features and some entirely new features that you get you pretty excited.
Considering that Android plagued by reports of security breaches and malware, Android O has optimized security at the top of its agenda. One such tweak is the Autofill API, which enables the app that store user data to do so without being granted Accessibility service. One other noticeable security improvement comes when installing .APK files directly to the Android device.
The device running Android O when prompted to install an .APK file will not only ask for explicit permission before installation but also when you open the app for the first time. This ensures that you are aware of the permissions being requested by the app and reduces the chances of a malware being installed unknowingly.
Revamped notification channels and notification shade
It has become a rite of passage for the notification shade of every new Android version to be updated, and this year is no exception. Android O previews a notification shade with more icons in the status bar, subtle changes in the design and smarter notifications that can be controlled right from the drop-down window.
Apart from the notification shade, Android 8.0 offers some much-needed room to handle notifications from apps and services. Rather than just allowing to enable or disable app notifications, the notification channels will allow you to customize the type of notifications that you wish to receive from a specific app.
More viewing with picture in picture
With the release of Android 7.0 Nougat for Android TV, the picture in picture was released, which apparently is now making its way to Android phones and tablets. Primarily designed for video playback while leaving enough room around for multitasking, this feature puts in place a tiny window on your device screen.
You can leave the video on for playback while performing other tasks, then close or maximize the size of the picture in picture window. Being in an early developmental stage, the feature only works with YouTube for now, and the image quality isn’t picture perfect yet, but it should come out much more polished with the official release.
Added navigation buttons and notification badges
Users have always loved considerate features on devices from LG and HTC that allow you to add extra on-screen navigation button other than the grand trio. Seems like Google has been noticing it, which brings us to the ability included on Android O allowing users to add an extra left or right button to the navigation bar.
One other interesting feature that we noticed seemed familiar and seen previously on several Samsung Galaxy and iPhones. Google has finally given in to the demand and introduced notification badges for apps to highlight the number of notifications for each of the app. This can be enabled from the App notifications menu and currently works with most of the stock Android and some third-party apps.
Welcomed battery optimizations
If there is one improvement that every Android users anticipate from the new Android version, it is battery optimizations on a software level. While restricting app activities in the background was founded with Doze Mode in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Android O takes it to a whole new level.
The latest version of Android puts restrictions on implicit broadcasts (app signaling), reducing background services that continue to run with the screen turned off, and automatically moderating location updates to reduce battery dependency. All of these micro-changes gather up to make a significant impact on battery life, and it should be interesting to see how much of battery life is improved with Android O.
Customizable lock screen shortcuts
From the dawn of Android devices, manufacturers have dedicated the app shortcuts we are allowed to use from the lock screen. Unless you like installing third-party app launchers, you’ve probably wanted the freedom to add lock screen shortcuts by yourself, and Android O finally brings this feature.
By accessing the Settings and the System UI, you can check out the new lock screen menu, which enables you to assign custom left and right lock screen shortcuts. Apart from launching apps, you can use lock screen shortcuts to open a tab in Chrome, compose an SMS, take a selfie and more.
How to get Android O right now
While we can’t confirm yet that Android 8.0 will be named Android Oreo, one thing we can do is offer you a way to get the developer preview right now. However, if you are a regular user who wants to get ahead of the line with the latest Android version, we urge you to wait a little longer, until the official Android Beta Program is released.
Since this is the first developer preview of Android O, it is patchy when it comes to usability and unreliable. Unless you are an app developer who wants to test out their apps on Android O and make them future-ready or have a spare Pixel or Nexus device around that you don’t use as your daily driver, here’s how you can get Android 8.0 right now.
Things you will need
- Compatible devices – Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, Pixel XL.
- Android SDK installed on your computer with ADB and Fastboot drivers configured.
- Factory image specific to your device – download here.
- Program to handle compressed files like 7zip.
- The device bootloader needs to be unlocked.
How to unlock the bootloader of your device
If it hasn’t been done already, you will need to turn on developer options from the Settings. To do so, just head over to “About Phone” and tap 7 times on “Build Number”.
Note: Unlocking your device bootloader and flashing factory image will factory reset your device. Make sure you create a backup before you proceed with bootloader unlocking and installing Android O.
- Now go ahead and open the newly unlocked Developer options to enable USB debugging and OEM unlocks on your Nexus or Pixel device.
- You can now proceed to plug in your device to your PC using a USB cable and open a command line on the screen.
- Boot your Nexus or Pixel device into bootloader mode using the following command: “adb reboot bootloader”. Press yes if you are requested to authorize this action.
- Your device should now boot into bootloader mode, and now you must type the command: “fastboot flashing unlock” to proceed.
- If you are unlocking the bootloader of a Pixel device, you’ll get a confirmation screen. Press Volume Up to select yes, and Power to select the action, which should begin the bootloader unlocking process.
Once the bootloader is unlocked, your device will directly reboot into bootloader mode, so go ahead and type the command: “fastboot reboot”.
Flashing Android O on the Pixel/Nexus device
- If you aren’t in the bootloader menu already, you will need to go back in and test that your device and PC are connected by typing “fastboot devices”. If the screen prompts the serial number of your device, you can move on to the next step.
- Now prepare the factory image specific to your device that you have downloaded earlier. Use 7zip to extract the .tgz file you downloaded and then again to extract the .tar file you extracted from the .tgz, which should give you a folder with several files in it.
- Copy all of the files and paste them on your computer in the platform-tools folder in the Android SDK. This folder should be on the C Drive, under Program Files (x86) on Windows PC.
- If you’re on a Windows PC, double click the flash-all file that has the gear logo and says “Windows Batch File” on the right. If you’re on Linux computer, you need to double click the “flash-all.sh”.
- At this point, you’ll be able to view a pop-up box and the installation taking place, so make sure you do not unplug your device during this process.
- Once the installation process is completed, your Pixel/Nexus device will automatically reboot and you will be able to see the Android O boot animation start up. At this point, you can go ahead and safely disconnect the device from your computer.
Wrapping it up
With the Google I/O 2017 upon us, it is naturally enthralling to find out more about the upcoming Android version and the features Android 8.0 will supposedly bring along. While the above guide to get Android O on compatible Pixel and Nexus devices has been tried and tested, we suggest you don’t jump the gun and get it right now unless your life depends on it.
Since this is a very early preview and despite all the Android O features that have been uncovered, the build is highly unstable. If you still wish to proceed but have hit a roadblock along the way, go ahead and ask for some help on the Updato Forum and our Android nerd band will on it.