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Android O: The smart person's guide – TechRepublic

Android 8 is currently called Android O. This new iteration of the Android platform is already enjoying the third developer preview and is available for beta program phones. Android O has very interesting tricks up its sleeve that promise new levels of security, performance, and productivity.

This smart person’s guide is a quick way to get up to speed on Android O. We’ll update this resource periodically when news and updates about Android O are released.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s smart person’s guides

Executive summary

  • What is Android O? Android O is the latest iteration of Android. This release includes features that will be crucial to bringing machine learning into focus on the platform, as well as interesting additions that make the mobile ecosystem much more efficient.
  • Why does Android O matter? AI is the future of mobility, and Android O will introduce a subsystem that will help to accelerate neural network features—even bringing some of the AI components onto the device.
  • Who does Android O affect? Android O will affect every Android user. As Google is on the forefront of AI, this upcoming release will be key to solidifying the platform within the realm of machine learning.
  • When is Android O available? Android O is in its third developer preview release and will reach the fourth release near the end of June 2017. The full release of Android O is slated for Q3 2017.
  • How do I get Android O? If you have a supported device—a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, or Pixel XL—you can enroll it in the Android Beta Program to get an early look at Android O.

SEE: The Comprehensive Android Development Course Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

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Image: Google, Stephen Shankland/CNET

What is Android O?

Android 8, currently code-named Android O, is set to take the mobile landscape by storm when it is finally released.

Key to this next implementation of the Android platform is what Google has dubbed Fluid Experiences, which allows users to move from one app to another without interrupting their workflow, enabling a more productive and efficient experience. For instance, Picture-in-Picture allows for much better multitasking functionality.

Another Fluid Experiences feature is Notification Dots, which is a very simple addition to the home screen and App Drawer that informs users an action is available for a particular app. For instance, when you receive a new email, you’ll see a small dot over the app icon, indicating an active notification.

Other notable Android O features include the following.

  • Auto-Fill: This feature allows apps to automatically fill in usernames to make signing into apps and services more efficient.
  • Notification Snoozing: Users can snooze notifications instead of only dismissing them.
  • Better cache data management: Every app will have a cache data limit. When the system needs to free up memory, it will automatically delete cached data from apps that have exceeded their limit.
  • Smart Text Selection: This feature will use machine learning to recognize commonly copied words (such as business names, phone numbers, URLs, etc.) and quickly copy them without having to select each letter or number of the intended selection.
  • TensorFlow Lite: This subsystem will help apps perform significantly faster by way of on-device machine learning. This scaled-down version of Google’s machine learning tool uses Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) to improve the overall experience.
  • Google Play Protect: This is Google’s way of upping the ante on security. Beginning with O, Android will include a real-time security scanner that will scan all apps that come from the Google Play Store. This new system should go a long way to protect Android users from malicious software and data theft.
  • Google Play Console Dashboards: This feature is aimed at developers only. It will display performance issues (such as battery drain, crashes, interface problems, etc.) to help developers resolve problems with their apps. This will greatly benefit all Android users because app problems will be resolved faster.

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Why does Android O matter?

Android O gives users the most efficient, productive, and secure Android platform. That, in and of itself, makes this one of the more significant releases to come from Google in some time.

With TensorFlow helping to bring machine learning directly to the hardware, Android will enjoy unrivaled mobile performance. And thanks to Fluid Experiences, users will also find that added performance improves productivity. Android O should be one of the most productivity-friendly releases of the Android platform.

SEE: Ebook—Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (TechRepublic)

To make this release even more important, Google Play Protect will ensure malicious software doesn’t make its way onto devices. This new security feature starts at the Google Play Store by scanning apps the second they are submitted and continues on to the device, where apps are scanned in real-time.

Additional resources

Who does Android O affect?

The release of Android O will affect any user with a compatible Android device. The devices that will be ready for Android O upon the initial release are the Pixel, Pixel XL, and the LG Nexus 5X.

Additional resources

When is Android O available?

Android O is still in developer preview release mode and will reach the fourth release near the end of June 2017. The completed version of Android O is slated for Q3 2017, with the Pixel, Pixel XL, and the LG Nexus 5X prepped and ready to receive it via Over The Air (OTA) update upon initial release.

Once the final version of Android O is complete, it will be made available to carriers, who will then test the platform against their devices as well as bake in their own software. It will be up to each carrier to release Android O to customer devices.

Here’s the schedule for when other devices will get Android O.

  • OnePlus 3/3T: December 2017
  • HTC 10: 4th Quarter of 2017
  • HTC One A9/M9: 4th Quarter of 2017
  • HTC Nexus 9: 4th Quarter of 2017
  • Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus: March 2018
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: November 2017
  • Samsung Note 5: November 2017
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S2: November 2017
  • LG V20, G6, and G5: 4th Quarter of 2017
  • Motorola Moto G5 and G5 Plus: August 2017
  • G4 and G4 Plus: September 2017
  • Motorola Moto X 3rd Gen: August 2017
  • Motorola Moto X Style: August 2017
  • Motorola Moto Z Droid: August 2017
  • Motorola Moto Z Force Droid: August 2017
  • Motorola Moto Z Play: August 2017
  • Motorola Moto: August 2017
  • Xiaomi Mi5s Plus: December 2017
  • Xiaomi Mi 4C/Mi 4S: December 2017
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3: November 2017
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4: January 2018
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix: December 2017
  • Huawei Mate 8: November 2017
  • Huawei Nova: December 2017
  • Lenovo ZUK Z1 and Z2: February 2018
  • Lenovo Vibe X3: February 2018

Additional resources

How do I get Android O?

The only way to get Android O at the moment is to join the Android Beta Program. The caveat is you must have a supported device: Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, or Pixel XL.

Beyond the Beta Program, you will have to wait until your carrier releases the OTA update for your supported device. The Android O release dates above could change as carriers roll in their own software and test it on their network and devices.

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