Android O developer preview 2 released, packed with small and useful features

The first developer preview of Android O came out around two months ago, and it was a bit of a rocky start. Some UI elements weren’t finished, and some of the promised features weren’t there yet. If you missed what the changes were from Android Nougat to Android O, then be sure to check out our hands on video that we did a bit ago. Now, Google has launched the second developer preview at Google I/O, so, let’s dive in and see what’s changed since the last version.

Picture-in-Picture

One of the most exciting changes is picture-in-picture mode. This allows apps like Chrome, Duo, and YouTube to continue playing video while you roam off into other apps. I tested it out with YouTube, and while still buggy, it definitely is working — something that I’ve long wished for. Plus, you can move the little box all around the screen and access quick controls, all from your homescreen or another app.

Notification badges

Or dots, as they seem to be called on the Android Developers website, stem directly from a feature present on iOS for quite some time: little dots that let you know of a notification. Now unlike iOS, they don’t have a number, just a red dot to alert you that there is some quantity of notifications. As this feature has to be enabled by the app developer, there aren’t any apps that have this feature right now. But, we should expect plenty more developers to support this in the coming weeks.

Autofill

Google has long offered autofill in Google Chrome, which, when you’re logging into a website, will autofill your username and password. But, this has only been possible on Android with third party apps like LastPass — until now. All users have to do is opt-in to use the service, and it will work for most apps right away. However, developers can choose to better support the autofill feature or even add support for custom fields.



Smart Text Selection

One of the pain points of doing any form of work on mobile is selecting text. Thankfully, Google is helping us out by introducing smart text selection: machine learning that lets Android recognize information like addresses, emails, phone numbers, and the like. Once it recognizes that information, it will automatically select all of it and suggest apps to use with that information. Say for an address it will suggest you open maps with that information, or for a phone number suggest you open the phone app with that information.

Android Vitals

Google is drilling down into the “vitals” of Android with their new project, Android Vitals. This is simply doing all they can to make sure that Android has better battery life, startup time, graphics rendering time, and stability. They announced that they’ve made various system optimizations to allow apps to run faster and smoother, as well as limiting the resources apps can use in the background.

Overall, there were some small, but nice changes announced today for Android O. Nothing super exciting, but it’s all the small changes that help make Android O a great experience for everyone. If you’re itching to check it out now, then you can enroll your Nexus 5X, 6P, Player, Pixel C, Pixel, or Pixel XL in the beta linked below.

Get the Android O BetaSource: Android Developers