Android O, Google’s latest version of its smartphone operating system, isn’t due to launch until the end of the year. But eager mobile fans can soon lay their hands on early editions of the software, after Google revealed plans to end testing of updates to last year’s Nougat and switch its attention to O instead.
But what exactly is Android O? And how long will you have to wait to give it a whirl? Read on and we’ll get you clued in.
What is Android O?
Android O, which has yet to be given an official name, is the latest version of Google’s hugely popular smartphone operating system.
The eighth full iteration of the software was first teased back in March, with plans to flesh it out further at Google’s annual I/O event, which takes place between 17th and 19th May.
What sets it apart from Android Nougat?
As with previous versions, Android O is a refinement of last year’s take, rather than a wholly revamped operating system. That said, Google has promised some major tweaks designed to improve the overall experience.
Most importantly, it’s fixing how apps run in the background, with the aim of boosting battery life. On top of that, notifications are set for an overhaul, with the chance to group them into ‘channels’ such as tech, sport and news, to stop your phone going off every thirty seconds.
What does it tell us about future Android phones?
Android O is unlikely to be available for Samsung, HTC and LG devices until 2018. But it does give us clues about what to expect from Google’s own smartphones, specifically the Pixel 2.
Google has teamed up with Sony, bringing its LDAC tech to Android O, in a bid to boost wireless audio performance. Considering the Pixel 2 is rumoured to be losing the standard 3.5mm headphone port, this tie–up could be a big clue as to Google’s plans for its new flagship phone.
When can you get it?
If you’re a developer, Android O is available now. But for those who don’t make apps, Google has promised it’s ‘coming soon’, via a new update to its Android Beta Programme site.
Those who keep a close eye on the Big G believe it could be available as soon as mid–May, when Google next updates the developer version of the software.
How can you get it?
Simply head over to Google’s Android Beta Programme website and sign up. You’ll then be able to download the new software and report back on any bugs or issues you find.
Remember that the software will be a long way from finished and may make your phone feel laggy at first.
What phone do you need?
The developer preview of Android O only works on the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. That’s likely to be the same for the wider beta programme, so owners of Samsung and LG phones will miss it.