Android O public beta is now available – and these are all the new features

android-o-preview

The second developer preview of Android O is now out and available to the general public.

Google Inc. announced the Android O developer preview in March, but it was restricted to developers and not recommended for the general public. At its I/O conference Wednesday near Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, the company announced the first public beta of the operating system together with some of the new features.

At its event, Google also announced that the Android OS just crossed the 2 billion monthly active devices threshold. It’s an impressive number, but a huge problem facing the company is the slow uptake of its latest OS, Android Nougat, which was released in August. Nougat is currently deployed only on approximately 7 percent of devices, well below the 31 and 32 percent currently held by older versions, Marshmallow and Lollipop, thanks to slow rollouts by carriers and device makers. That raises doubts about how fast O can be adopted.

To address this problem, Google earlier this week announced “Project Treble,” which will allow device makers to issue their Android updates without having to wait for chipset makers to certify their chips will work with the latest software.

Here’s a look at some of the new features available in Android O, along with how to download the public beta:

New Android O features

Picture-in-picture mode

If your device’s screen is big enough, you will be able to make use of Android O’s picture-in-picture mode and watch a YouTube video or do a Duo chat while simultaneously completing another task. In supported apps, you can activate the feature by tapping the home button.

Notification dots

Notification dots is a small circle in the corner of an app icon that displays the number of notifications relating to that specific app. Similar to iOS, a long press will pop up a preview window.

Autofill

Android O brings Chrome’s Autofill feature to Android so that users don’t have to manually enter frequently used information. Once a user opts-in, Autofill will work out-of-the-box for most apps.

Smart Text Selection

Using on-device machine learning, Android O’s copy and paste feature have been improved. When copying information like an address, name, phone number, email addresses, etc. you just need to double tap the information and Android will select the entire entity. If you have highlighted a telephone number you will be able to add it directly to your contacts or find an address in Google Maps.

Android O picture-in-picture mode and notification dots

Android O picture-in-picture mode and notification dots

Google Play Protect

Play Protect is automatically built into every device with Google Play and will automatically check the apps on your device for any vulnerabilities.

Android Vitals

Android Vitals is a project focusing on optimizing battery life, startup time, graphic rendering time and stability.

In Android O, Google has been working on making apps run faster and smoother. It has also placed new limits on background location and Wi-Fi scans, as well as changes in the way apps run in the background. The company also launched the Android Vitals Dashboards in the Play Console that will allow developers to pinpoint common issues in their apps and the number of affected users.

Download and install Android O beta

If you are eager to try out the new Android features and own a compatible device you can download the Android O beta through Google’s Android Beta Program. Before you install the Android O beta, make sure you back up your data.

Compatible devices: Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel C, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X and Nexus Player.

Open the browser on your compatible device > go to g.co/androidbeta > sign in with your Google account. Under “Your eligible devices,” tap the “Enroll device” button > agree to the terms and conditions > tap “Join beta.”

The pop-up will tell you your device has been enrolled and you will receive an over-the-air update soon > click Ok. When you receive the update notification (can take up to 24 hours), tap Download. The next window will confirm that you are about to install the Android O beta. Ensure you are connected to Wi-Fi and tap Download > tap “Restart & install” to begin the process.

Images: Google