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Android O Features Revealed in Developer Preview: Battery Improvements, Background Limits, Icons, Notifications and More

Just like last year with Android N, the Android O developer preview has been released early. This developer preview is meant solely for app developers and device makers, and is arguably very buggy at this point. Android O brings with it background limits, notification channels, standard autofill APIs, picture-in-picture video, adaptive icons, as well as support for multi-display.

Google has made the Android O preview images available for compatible devices, namely, the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, and Pixel XL. For now, no betas or OTA images are available, which means users will have to flash the developer preview onto their devices.

Android O features in Developer Preview 1.
For now, Android O Developer Preview 1 brings background limits, which means apps running in the background will be more strictly controlled resulting into battery life efficiency.
Better battery life via tighter control on background limits for apps
Android Nougat ushered in great respite for anyone looking to get better battery life from their smartphone and Android O promises to help this cause even further. Google has added additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background which fall in three main areas – implicit broadcasts, background services and location updates. With this provision in place, developers can now fine tune the kind of activity that their app can perform when running in the background in order to have minimal impact on battery life.

Adaptive icons.
Apps can now have adaptive launcher icons which can display a variety of shapes depending on the device. According to Google, “a launcher icon can display using a circular shape on one OEM device, and display a squircle on another device. Each device OEM provides a mask, which the system then uses to render all icons with the same shape.” The system also has the ability to animate interactions with the icons and these can be used in shortcuts, Settings, sharing dialogue and in the overview screen, besides the launcher.

Android O Notification Channels.
Notification Channels feature lets the users control app’s notification categories. It lets developers give users fine-grained control over different kinds of notifications – users can block or change the behaviour of each channel individually, rather than managing all of the app’s notifications together. Android O also adds new visuals and grouping to notifications that make it easier for users to see what’s going on when they have an incoming message or are glancing at the notification shade.

Android O Autofill APIs.
Another big change is autofill APIs which essentially brings platform support for autofill. This means that the service will work across ecosystem by just selecting an autofill app, similar to the way they select a keyboard app. The autofill app stores and secures user data, such as addresses, user names, and even passwords. For apps that want to handle autofill, Google has also added new APIs to implement an Autofill service.

Some other changes :
Google is enhancing WebView which will now enable multiprocess mode by default and a new API which allows apps to better handle errors and crashes. Android O now supports several new Java Language APIs, including the new java.time API. The Android Runtime is said to be much faster than before, with improvements of up to 2x on some application benchmarks.
These are just some of the changes highlighted by Google as of now and we expect more announcements to surface as we draw closer to the company’s big event in May.
So, are you excited for Android O? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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