Adaptive notification dots
If you cast your mind back to Google I/O 2017 you might remember Google demoing notification dots (which are essentially numberless notification badges with nifty launcher shortcuts) which would be coming up in Android O. In dev preview 3 we saw notification dots with a standard blue color. This time around the dots appear in various colors drawn from the app icon they relate to.
Performance and bug fixes
A lot of early adopters have noted several performance improvements and bug fixes in the final dev preview. The battery drain issue that put a lot of folks off the third developer preview seems to have been corrected and the camera launch delay has also been fixed. Multiple other improvements have been mentioned around the interwebs, so hit the comments and share yours if you’ve noted anything in particular.
Font, lock screen, and notifications changes
For the eagle eyed (mostly Motobug and Phinocio on Reddit, who shared the screenshots below), there are a few font changes in the final dev preview. On the lock screen, the clock is slightly smaller and the date is no longer in all caps. In the status bar, the battery percentage is slightly bolder and the carrier info and time have been given a little more space on the left and right respectively.
In the toggles area at the top of the notifications shade, the date is now in a slightly less condensed font which makes it a little more more legible at a glance and the card-like spacer between the toggles and the notifications has been removed. The mobile data toggle has also been changed back to its old look (see the icon next to Wi-Fi in the two screenshots below).
“Change app icon shape” removed
Not the biggest deal, but the option to force adaptive app icons into a specific shape (round, squircular, rounded square or teardrop) has been removed in the final developer preview. The option was previously found in the home screen settings since dev preview 2, but has now been removed. Similarly, Icon Badging has been moved from this area and instead appears as a Notification Dots toggle in the Notifications settings menu. Notification dots for individual apps can also be enabled and disabled from within the App Info screen under App Notifications.
New system app icon
System apps have received an updated icon that looks a little more Material although it is not implemented in every case, so you’ll still see the old Android head as well (like, for example, in the wallpapers or NFC service). To check it out, just go to Settings > Apps and notifications > App info > Show system (via overflow menu) and scroll through the list. Pixel devices get a circular icon by default while Nexuses get a square icon.
Persistent background apps notification
While having a quick and easy way to see which apps are running in the background (and potentially draining your battery) sounds like a good thing, the implementation introduced in developer preview 3 is less than ideal. An Android system notification lives in your tray near-permanently, constantly reminding you how many apps are running in the background.
System UI options removed
The System UI Tuner is one of those geeky playgrounds nerds like us love poking around in. Unfortunately for us, in the third developer preview Google removed access to several options previously available, including my personal favorite. Fortunately for anyone that had set up custom navigation keys in earlier previews, they continue to appear and work, but don’t expect that to last forever. Lock screen and picture-in-picture options are now gone, presumably until Android 8.1 or the first Android P developer preview.
In the camera app double-tapping zooms in 50 percent and there’s now a dedicated button for switching between the photo and video modes. Previously you could only swipe between the modes, which might have kept it a bit of a secret for some users. Now a camera button appears to the left of the record button in video mode, and a video button appears to the right of the shutter button in photo mode.
New icon shape: teardrop
Google is going to war with bad, mismatched and irregularly sized icons. In developer preview 3 you can choose from the default system app shape, square, rounded square, squircular and now teardrop. Teardrop essentially forces adaptive app icons into an Allo-like shape.
A new battery remaining animation has been added, which really only serves to slow down your ability to quickly see what your battery stats are in the Settings menu. The order of the Wi-Fi and mobile data icons have been reversed in the status bar, because Google. An Icon Badge option now appears in the home screen settings, which enables app notification dots (although these only seem to appear in a single color right now).
A familiar phrase and tool in many televisions, within the YouTube app on Android and, yes, in iOS. Google is adding a Picture-in-Picture mode to Android O. With a YouTube video playing, just tap the Home button and the video will pop into a small window that can remain on screen as you navigate other apps on your device. You can slide the video around for best placement, then simply slide it off the screen to terminate. Available now in the Android O Beta.
Many custom Launcher users already know the power of a notification icon on top of an app icon on your Homescreen. We even used Tasker to build our own once, but now Google is building it into Android. Android O users will see a small dot that appears over top of their app icons with active notifications. This is where the magic starts, now that your app has an icon, new tools are available – Long-press the app icon with Notification Dot to get a short list of immediate shortlink actions you can perform. This includes viewing the notification itself right there in a tiny pop-up window.
The long-press functionality is not yet available in Android O, watch for it coming soon in a future beta
Smart Text Selection
We’ve all seen the basic text highlighting features, the copy/paste dialogue in Android, but now there’s more. With Android O, highlighting text includes further features, using Google AI to intelligently act on the words. For instance, if you highlight a phone number, you can just tap to dial. If you highlight an address, a single tap will start navigation. Best of all, highlighting is more intelligent itself, selecting phrases or full addresses, for example, instead of just single words.