The latest iteration of Google's operating system, Android Oreo, is officially here, but it won't be on your phone just yet.
The Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) unit unveiled Android Oreo on Monday, Aug. 21, in New York at an event that coincided with the solar eclipse. Leading up to the event, plenty of people had been speculating what the O in the partially revealed name, Android O, might stand for, including oatmeal cookie, octopus and orangina (all Android versions are named after desserts). Previous versions of Android were dubbed Nougat, Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat and Jelly Bean.
Google didn't drop much more information about the product beyond revealing the Android Oreo name, but the tech giant did give some hints as to when the new OS will become available to the public.
The latest version of Android Oreo is now available via Google's Android Open Source Project, where developers can download the new OS source code. Pixel and Nexus 5X/P phones have entered carrier testing, Google said, meaning that over-the-air software updates will be rolling out soon. If you don't have the newest Android phone, however, you probably won't be able to download the new OS for now.
Google said it has been working with its device partners so that by the end of the year hardware makers will launch or upgrade their devices to Android Oreo. These include Essential Products Inc., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp., Sony Corp. (SNE) , LG Group, Kyocera Corp., HTC Corp. and HMD Global, the company noted. Anyone enrolled in the Android Beta Program also can get access to the final version of Android Oreo.
Users first got a taste of Android O in March, when Google put out a developer version of the OS, as well as at Google's annual I/O developers conference in May. Monday's event may have been timed alongside the solar eclipse, but it wasn't expected to include any earth-shattering updates to Android.
Google is making some much-needed updates to preserve and improve battery life, putting it more in line with some of the battery-saving features long in place in Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS. Android Oreo puts automatic limits on what apps can do while running in the background, such as implicit broadcasts, background services and location updates. These operations can be a huge drag on a user's phone battery for several reasons. Even if you're not actively using an app, it could still be running in the background, consuming valuable space in a smartphone's RAM, or memory.
Android Oreo now has notification channels that let users categorize notifications from different apps into "channels," as well as block notifications they don't want to see. Additionally, the new OS brings notification dots to the home screen that show updates via a badge above an app, which means users don't have to pull down the drop-down menu to see what they've missed.
Another major feature that's set to roll out in Android Oreo is picture-in-picture video viewing. PIP mode lets users continue watching a video in the lower corner of their screen even after they've switched to another window on their smartphone. This will allow for things like watching a YouTube video or receiving a video call while sending an email or text message. IPad users have had this feature for several years now.
Users will probably appreciate Android Oreo's new Autofill API feature, which adds the option of autofill to all apps. Autofill stores all user data, such as passwords, addresses and user names, for easy loading. It's similar to the autofill feature already enabled on Google Chrome and other web browsers.
Alphabet shares on Monday dropped 0.6% to $920.87.