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Android O beta points us to unique new features

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-05-2017 Abhijit Ahaskar

Improving user experience and making Android more secure was one of the key talking points on day one at Google’s I/O Developer Conference in Mountain View, California. Its upcoming mobile OS, known as Android O, is now available to anyone who has signed up for Android Beta Program and has the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P or 5x smartphones. Beta refers to an unstable version of the software update which is released to a wider audience to test its robustness in real conditions.

The final version of Android O will be available later this year with Google’s new crop of Pixel smartphones, and the existing line-up of Pixel, Pixel XL and Nexus 6p and Nexus 5x smartphones.

According to Google, the new software update is designed with two things in mind — delivering a fluid experiences and improving vitals such as battery, performance and security.

Google Play Protect

In order to tackle the growing menace of malware sneaking thorough apps, Android O will come with a built-in security tool called Play Protect. Baked into the Google Play app on every Android device, the tool will use artificial intelligence (AI) to scan over a billion smartphones and more than 50 billion apps every day so it can identify risky apps and get rid of them instantly. It also allows users to locate, lock and erase their smartphone remotely, in case of theft.

Remembering password for you through Autofill

A feature available on web browsers for many years, Autofill will now work with Android apps. Google will provide users with an option to save long information such as card details, phone number, username or email address for third-party apps on Android O. This will make switching from one app to another a lot smoother. Users won’t have to recall passwords for every app, as the auto fill feature will automatically suggest a username and password to login with.

Picture in Picture

This new tool is designed to help users multi-task better on smaller screens. It allows users to access content in one app in a small window pinned to one corner on top of another app. So if you are watching a video on YouTube, and want to chat with a friend simultaneously, you can press the home button and the YouTube video will be reduced to a small pop-up window. You can open the messenger app and chat on the rest of the page. This feature will work with a wide range of apps including Google Maps and Netflix.

Easy copy paste

Copying and pasting text from one app to another often requires several attempts. Users have to tap and select the entire text or number to copy them. With Android O, users can select a word or number by double tapping anywhere on it. This feature works closely with other Google apps too. So if you tap a number it will automatically ask if you want to open the dialler app. Similarly, if you tap on an email it can open the Gmail app on tap.

Making battery life better

To improve the battery backup on Android O, Google has made significant changes in Doze. Unlike Android N where Doze would kick into action when the smartphone was not being used, in the new OS, it will restrict background apps from using resources. Apps in the background will be synced less frequently.

Smart notifications

Notification will become a lot smarter with Android. Users can combine notifications from similar set of apps into channels so they won’t have to go through every notification. Also, users can see a notification badge on the app icon on the home page if there is a notification from that app. The second feature has been used by a few phonemakers such as Asus and Xiaomi in their smartphones. Users can also snooze notifications to show up after some time if they are too busy.

Improved Settings page

Instead of scrolling through a long list of options, Android O will have a simple and shorter settings page with only the important options. This will reduce the clutter on the page and encourage users to use the search button more often.

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