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Developers: Here's what you'll get with Google's Android O preview

Recently, Google made its next version of Android, O, available in developer preview. Here's what you need to know.

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Image: Google

On Tuesday, Google launched a developer preview of the next version of Android, Android O. Announced in a blog post by Dave Burke, Google's vice president of engineering for Android, the new OS will bring updates to notifications, connectivity, design, and more.

While it promises new features, Burke's post did issue a standard warning:

The usual caveats apply: it's early days, there are more features coming, and there's still plenty of stabilization and performance work ahead of us. But it's booting :).

Much like Android Svelte and Project Doze, which was released in 2016, Android O promises new improvements in background process management and battery life. In O, Google is introducing background limits, which are "additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates." In theory, this will allow developers to more easily build less battery-intensive apps, the post said.

Notification channels are another new feature that will help filter notification content by category. Each notification channel can be interacted with and customized separately, so users will have deeper control over which notifications they receive and when, the post said.

Android O is also introducing new platform support for autofill APIs, so users will be able to choose their own autofill application and use it to fill in personal data when needed. New APIs will also make it easier for developers in utilize autofill services.

SEE: Why a Chrome OS and Android merger isn't what we really need

Picture in Picture (PIP) display will also be available through Android O, allowing for video viewing while using another app. Developers will also be able to designate the aspect ratio and define the user interactions for the PIP instance.

Each version of Android is defined, in part, by its design. For Android O, adaptive icons will change shape depending on the device, and will have animations that accompany their interactions. Font design will also be getting an update—according to Burke's post, "Apps can now use fonts in XML layouts as well as define font families in XML—declaring the font style and weight along with the font files." Android O's design approach will also feature wide-gamut color for apps as well.

Connectivity is getting a boost as well in Android O, with the Wi-Fi Aware feature helping compatible devices "discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an Internet access point," the post said. Support for LDAC codec is also coming to Android O, providing better quality wireless audio signal.

Speaking of audio, the developer preview will include an early version of the Audio API for Pro Audio, which is aimed at applications that need high quality audio with minimal latency.

Android applications that allow for third-party calling will be getting better integration through the ConnectionService API, the post said. These apps will now work better with the Android system UI and other apps as well.

One of the biggest announcements in the Google ecosystem recently was the launch of Google Play apps on Chrome OS. To make the user experience better for those apps, Google will also be improving the "arrow" and "tab" keyboard navigation, the post noted.

For application developers, specifically, the multi-process mode for WebView that came about with the launch of Android Nougat is getting some improvements as well.

"In Android O, we're enabling multi-process mode by default and adding an API to let your app handle errors and crashes, for enhanced security and improved app stability. As a further security measure, you can now opt in your app's WebView objects to verify URLs through Google Safe Browsing," the post said.

Finally, Burke's post also claims that the Android Runtime will be up to twice as fast on some applications, and Android O will support a host of new Java 8 Language APIs as well.

Developers, sound off!

What features in Android O are you most excited about? Any features that you're surprised didn't show up? Tell us in the comments.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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