What’s new in Android Oreo?

Android

Android Oreo brings several changes to existing features as well as all new features. Since it first arrived in 2008, Android has been a very fluid bit of software. The mobile space is always evolving and Android has evolved along with it so it could meet the needs of people like us who use it every day.

With the first developer preview of Android Oreo, we got a glimpse of some of the new features. Now that Android 8.0 is final, we know exactly what to expect from the latest version.

Here’s everything you need to know!

Notification channels

Android N brought a new framework for notifications and ways for developers to use it so we get more information in a space where real estate is at a premium.

With Android Oreo, Google is introducing new Notification channels: grouping notifications together by their type. Notifications are still managed by the app that delivers them, but users can control how things are displayed on a per-channel basis. This way we can decide things like how a news app notifies us or a music player shows a persistent notification. Notification channels is a new way for us to control the rich notifications that Android apps bring to us.

Some of those rich notification changes come in the form of a custom notification when media is playing. Google’s examples use the album art or video thumbnail to build a colorful interactive notification.

Notification channels are required if a developer targets their app for Android Oreo, and are an all or nothing affair. If a notification isn’t assigned to a channel it won’t be displayed.

Picture in picture for handsets

Google is moving PiP display support to Android phones.

Currently, Android TV has a native PiP display method but handsets use a standard multi-window view versus an overlay. With the new way of doing things, and apps can be designed so that the supplementary window is strictly for content and controls or other bits of app chrome can be placed elsewhere.

With Android Oreo, we can shrink the view of an app into a small secondary window that can be positioned by the user at run time. For example, a YouTube window can be shrunk and moved so that you can take notes in a second app while it’s playing.

This also brings a new way to handle screen overlays and methods for a device to launch an app or activity (a portion of an app) on a remote display. An app can run on more than one display at a time, and the developer can decide which screen to launch an app on when the user starts it up.

Adaptive icons and badges

The Google Pixel Launcher brought adaptive icons, and now Android supports them systemwide and natively.

Options can be given for different shaped masks that define the outside border (think squircles) and icons can be animated. Adaptive icons will be supported in the launcher, shortcuts, device Settings, sharing dialogs, and the app overview screen.

Google has built this out in a way that’s easy for developers. They provide an icon as normal and a background, and the system stitches them together using a mask that the home launcher defines.

Additionally, new icons support badges for new content. Called “Notification Dots” they are a lot like badges we’ve seen before. Google adds things like a preview pane from the home screen you can access from the icon shortcut as well as app-exclusive shortcuts, such as replying to a message.

 

Font resources in XML

Android Oreo promotes fonts to a full resource type.

This means that fonts can be defined the same way colors and other resources are in application layouts using XML, and developers will have more control over the fonts and style they use. This might mean we can have apps with their own custom fonts without any complicated procedures by developer or users.

Google is bundling all their own free fonts into downloadable packages that can be used here, and this can apply to emojis, too!

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