As you’d probably expect, Android O was heavily featured in the Google I/O 2017 keynote. Dave Burke took his place on the stage to give an overview of some of the major changes coming to everyone’s favorite robot-based mobile operating system.
Burke started out by rehashing some of the numbers thrown out at the beginning of the keynote, most specifically that there are currently 2 billion active Android devices in the world right now. He did, however, clarify that number a bit, stating that it only represents phones and tablets, meaning that the number is actually quite a lot higher when you take smartwatches, Android Auto, and other devices into consideration. While not completely Android related, we also heard here that Chromebooks make up a whopping 60% of K-12 laptops sold in the US. In a swing back to Android, we also learned that to date, over 82 billion apps/games have been installed from Google Play.
But really, what I’m sure most everybody was most interested in was news about Android O. We still don’t know what our O-themed dessert is going to be, but we at least got to see some of the new features coming to the next Android release. The major features of Android O were broken down into two major themes: Fluid Experiences, and Vitals.
In the Fluid Experiences camp, several new features were unveiled:
- Picture-in-picture – Press the home button and your first window will drop to PIP that can be swiped away, similar to how YouTube videos currently dock to the lower right corner. Another app can then be opened and used while the first app stays in the corner until it’s swiped away. This seems perfect for watching instructional YouTube videos while creating a list of necessary supplies, or video chatting on Duo while checking your calendar.
- Notification dots – iOS-like app icon dots. Long-press app icon to show notification in-place, will also appear in the notification tray.
- Autofill with Google – Extended to apps, will auto-fill based on Chrome use. APIs available for devs to customize autofill and log in via stored Chrome settings.
- Smart Text Selection – Phone numbers are most copied/pasted items, business names are second. Double tap anywhere on any part of a business name and the whole business name is selected, same with any address. It will be selected and will automatically suggest maps for directions or navigation. Phone numbers will pop up a suggestion of the dialer, email addresses will suggest gmail, etc.
Also mentioned briefly during the Fluid Experiences section was TensorFlow Lite. This is a mobile version of Google’s open-source machine learning library that is designed to be fast and small while still enabling state-of-the-art techniques.
The Vitals portion of the discussion focused on Google’s goal of “keeping your phone secure and in a healthy state to maximize power & performance.” Several upgrades were discussed:
- Security Enhancements: Machine learning combs apps uploaded to Play, with over 50 billion apps verified every day. Harmful apps are disabled or removed. Security tools becoming more available and visible. Google Play Protect will be available on all devices with Google Play.
- OS optimization: Boot time twice as fast, apps will run faster and smoother, wise limits to background location and background usage.
- Developer Tools: Play Console Dashboards, Android Studio Profilers.
In other news that will be exciting to developers, Kotlin is now an officially supported language in Android and is fully Android Run-time compatible. The Android O beta is available now at android.com/beta.