Google delivers a standing O of an Android preview for devs


— 10:30 AM on March 22, 2017

Last year's Android 7.0 Nougat release is only running on less than 3% of internet-connected Android devices, but Google is already charging forward with the next release, currently called Android O. The developer preview of the new version is available now. In a similar vein to Chrome 57, Android O is focused on extending battery life and throttling background tasks. Android's ever-evolving notification system is getting improvements and will now group notification content into app-defined categories called channels.

To keep background tasks in check, Android O will impose limitations on implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates in order to make it easier for developers to write apps with reduced impact on battery life. Google says the policy changes on background limits represent a "significant change" and that it "want(s) every developer to get familiar with them," which sounds to us like a heads-up indicating that the changes may break some applications.

The latest round of changes to the notification system offers apps the ability for apps to create what Google calls channels. The change should allow users more fine-grained control over each type of notification originating from an app. Google says the new system will allow users to "block or change the behavior of each channel individually," instead of just enabling or disabling the entirety of an app's notifications.

Android O will arrive with improved support for both new and existing hardware. Wide-gamut displays will be supported, as will the higher-quality Bluetooth LDAC audio codec. As for existing hardware, the musty old keyboard-and-mouse interfaces are getting some attention to make the Android app experience a bit more satisfying for users of Android apps on Chrome OS devices.

The new release includes a number of smaller updates like a new Autofill API, updated application windowing features, and adaptive icons. Google's Android Developers blog has a more detailed rundown here. The search giant is planning a deeper release of information at Google I/O in mid-May, but developers can download the preview version and get started updating their apps right away.

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