At this fresh time of year, we start to think about change and renewal.
For smartphone owners, that can mean only one thing: OS upgrade time!
Yes, this is the moment when millions of us get into bed, power our devices to 100 per cent, press the upgrade button, sleep and then wake up to see how different our phone looks in the morning.
For Android users, the update in question is Android 8.0 or – to use its nicer-to-eat name – Oreo.
So what can two billion Android users expect from the new version? Well, it’s not one of the more transformational updates. Instead, Oreo brings incremental improvements to essential things like battery life and security.
That said, there are still some eye-catching new elements.
The picture-in-picture feature has certainly grabbed the headlines. It lets users watch a video (or make a video call) while doing something else.
Then there’s auto-fill, which uses the login information saved in Chrome to populate and speed up sign-in forms for apps or web services.
Google has re-booted its notifications set-up with new a layout, controls and color scheme. It also lets users mute and snooze individual apps that push too many messages.
And Oreo also ships pre-loaded with support for Android Instant Apps. These are the apps you can run without a full installation. Oreo is the first Android OS to fully support them.
Finally, another more generic facet of Oreo is that it supports a scaled-down version of the OS for devices of 1 GB of RAM or less. This is called Android Go. It’s essentially a bunch of presets that ensure the OS requires less processing.
Here’s a very brief wrap up of Oreo’s key features:
• Picture-in-picture feature
• Mute notifications for individual apps
• Notification badges on app icons
• Smart Text shortcuts – when you select text Oreo will route you to the most relevant app such as Maps for example
• Google Play Protect – scans apps to check for security flaws
• Auto-fill – populate sign-in forms for apps or web services
• Faster updates for non-Google Android phones – thanks to a feature called Treble
• Pre-loaded with support for Android Instant Apps
Needless to say, the Calldorado SDK will be fully prepared for Oreo when it hits the Android mainstream.
The question is: when will that be?
Well, not soon. History shows it takes time for Android manufacturers to support OS updates. And even longer for Android users to actually install them.
Indeed, a month after Oreo launched, it is available only for the Google Pixel and Nexus devices, plus the Sony Xperia XZ1.
Meanwhile, Google’s own numbers show just 0.2 per cent of Android users have installed it so far. By contrast, 22 per cent use Lollipop 5.1 and 32 per cent use Marshmallow.
It’s clear that, for the moment, app developers should focus most effort on these previous versions.
So when will Oreo arrive on other handsets? It’s hard to be precise though the media has published some estimates. Here is a rough guide:
• Pixel 2: From October 19
• Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ — January/February 2018
• Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge — Spring 2018
• LG V30/v20/G6 — End of 2017
• LG G5 — mid-2018
• Moto Z2 – late 2017
• HTC U11 — late 2017
• HTC 10 — early 2018
• Sony Xperia XZ1 – launched
• Sony Xperia XZs — late 2017
• Huawei Mate 9 — late 2017
• Huawei P10 — mid-2018
• OnePlus 3/5 – end 2017
Of course, this time year 2018, we will all be talking about Android P. Wonder what that will be called?
Stay tuned …