Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Partly this is thanks to the large number of phones available that use Android, meaning that you get plenty of choice. And partly this is thanks to the OS being easily customisable and easy to use. But once a year or so we get a whole new update, and that time has rolled around again. Android Oreo has just been released, and you might be wondering what changes you’re going to have to get used to. The good news here is that pretty much everything on Android O is an improvement. You might not be getting the update for a while, depending on what kind of phone you’re running, but here’s the lowdown on what you can expect when you do get that download.
Probably the most noticeable change from a user viewpoint is a couple of tweaks that make phone organisation and use that much easier. The settings menu has been redesigned (and now features some snazzy grey text on a light background, making it easier to read), and is more intuitive. That means that you’ll be able to find what you need faster than ever. On top of that, the built in file manager is now simpler too. If you’ve tried to find and delete files on Android before (without the help of a secondary file manager app) you’ll know that file managing wasn’t really Android’s strong point, but as of Oreo organising data on your phone is easier than ever.
There have also been a couple of changes to the way notifications work on your phone. The first of these is pretty simple: you can now snooze notifications. Say you get an email and don’t have time to deal with it, but you don’t want to forget that you received it. Swipe right on the email notification, hit the little clock icon, and set the interval for when you want the notification to vibrate/buzz/ring/appear again. Pretty handy.
Android O also introduces notification channels. This lets you sort your notifications into different areas (perhaps you have “personal” notifications for your personal email and twitter accounts and then “business” for your work stuff, or perhaps you have a notification channel just for social media). You can then set tones and priorities for a whole set of notifications, rather than doing one at a time. For example, you might want to put all your “personal” notifications on vibrate only during work hours (which could stop you getting in trouble during that big meeting).
Better Battery Life
You’ll notice that Android O has a new battery menu, and it’s a nice upgrade too. It’s easier to get to the battery settings you use most often (like adaptive brightness), and there’s now included statistics so you can see exactly how much battery life your screen is sucking away, for example. If you stay on top of your battery settings (and those statistics) you should find that battery life improves at least a little.
But there’s an even more important change that will affect your phone’s battery. Android O has added something called “background execution limits.” These can get a little technical, but essentially the idea is that apps now have much stricter limits about what they can do in the background of your phone. This should significantly improve your battery life, particularly if you use a lot of social media apps (which tend to run in the background to give you notifications and to frequently ask for location updates).
Better WiFi Control
This is probably our favourite change in Android O, and if you often travel to and away from WiFi hotspots then you’re going to love it to. You can now turn on WiFi automatically. This means that when you’re away from a known hotspot (perhaps when you’re away from home), WiFi will switch off, saving you precious battery life. Get within reach of that hotspot again (pull into your driveway, perhaps) and your phone will automatically switch the WiFi back on, giving you full access. This change has been a long time coming, and it should be a huge improvement for heavy internet users that are sick of running out of battery.
Older Android versions already have a split screen mode, so you can run two apps simultaneously and see them both. However, Android O takes things one step further with picture in picture mode. This means you can have say a video floating over whatever else you’re doing. Maybe you need to watch that YouTube walkthrough whilst playing that mobile game, not a problem with picture in picture mode. Currently only YouTube and VLC support this, but more apps will be added to that list soon.
And All the Rest…
There are tons of changes in Android O and we can’t possibly mention all of them, but there are a few that need to be mentioned. Better fingerprint scanner recognition is offered, with the addition of scanner gestures (allowing you not only to press the scanner but also to swipe up and down with different effects depending on which app you’re using). Storage is easier to manage now, with the storage menu offering specific categories of stored files (movies and TV, for example) so you can more easily delete things you don’t need to free up space.
There’s also a new feature called “Rescue Party” which is basically a mobile fixer, designed to try and automatically fix problems with software every time you switch your phone on. If you’re a Bluetooth user then your audio quality should improve thanks to a new HiFi codec addition. Oh, and if you’re an ex-iPhone user then you’ll be pleased to know that Android O also has homescreen notifications (a little bubble over your email app icon that shows you how many unread messages there are, for example), just like on the iPhone.
Android Oreo offers plenty of changes, and all seem to be for the better. Now all you need to do is wait for that system update!