Following Developer Preview 4 at the end of June, Google is now rolling out the final version of Android 8.0 Oreo. Unlike previous years where the release coincides with an OTA update for recent devices, Google is today only pushing the latest version of Android to AOSP for other manufacturers. However, Google does note that it plans to start rolling out to Pixel and Nexus devices soon.
Android Oreo has a number of new features for users, but also a bevy of under-the-hood system changes and new APIs for app developers.
Notifications have been visually and functionally redesigned in Android 8.0 to be easier to manage. On the design front, Notification Dots add a badge to app icons, while long-pressing on the Pixel Launcher will now show active alerts.
In the notification drawer, partially swiping left/right on a notification will reveal new controls for Snoozing, with alerts reappearing in the same importance level upon return. Media notifications in the drawer are able to theme themselves based on cover art, resulting in one of the more delightful and colorful features of Oreo.
Meanwhile, Google is encouraging developers to adopt Notification Channels that provide a centralized place in system Settings to disable certain types of alerts for an app.
Another significant feature in 8.0 is Picture-in-picture. This latest multi-window mode is especially geared for watching video, like in YouTube. However, apps like Google Duo are leveraging it to continue video calls. When watching a video, simply tapping the home button will pop-out a separate window.
Thanks to on-device machine learning, Smart Text Selection makes highlighting text faster by automatically grouping words that belong together, while providing suggestions to open URLs, phone numbers, and addresses in the appropriate app.
On the Pixel, there are several customizations, including how the Quick Settings toggles and panels are now white to better blend in with notifications. This white theme also extends to the redesigned and reorganized Settings app.
The Ambient Display has been significantly redesigned and is no longer a carbon-copy of the lockscreen when displaying notifications. Instead of full notifications, users will now only see a row of app icons underneath the clock. A smaller change sees the proximity sensor shutting off the Ambient mode when hovered over.
Beginning today, Google is pushing Android 8.0 to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) so that manufacturers can begin the process of updating their devices. Unfortunately, the rollout to Pixel/Nexus phones, tablets, and streaming boxes will not begin today.
Google does note that “Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P builds have entered carrier testing.” Alongside the Pixel C and Nexus Player, they “expect to start rolling out in phases soon.”
Meanwhile, Google is “working closely with our partners, and by the end of this year, hardware makers including Essential, General Mobile, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony are scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo.”