Oh — hello, Oreo!
After months of discussion, developer previews and beta releases, Google’s latest and greatest Android software is finally upon us. Android 8.0, aka Oreo, is officially named, numbered and on its way into the world — and that means many-an-Android-phone-owner is gonna be battling some serious cookie cravings in the weeks to come.
So what’s Oreo all about? And what’ll it mean for you? Grab a glass of milk and get cozy: Here are answers to all of your burning questions.
What are the biggest new features in Android 8.0?
Well, we’re certainly eager beavers, aren’t we? (Beavers really love Oreos. C’mon — don’t tell me you didn’t already know that.)
Not to fear, my dear: We’ll get right to the good stuff. I’d say Oreo has three real “headline features” that you are bound to notice — or perhaps will just want to notice — first:
1. Picture-in-picture mode
I know, I know: Android’s had a native split-screen function since last year’s Nougat release (and third-party manufacturers have been baking that ability into their own software for even longer). But honestly, how often do you actually use that — especially when you’re on a smaller-screened device?
Android Oreo expands the platform’s multitasking capabilities with something called picture-in-picture mode. With phones in particular, it’s a much less space-consuming and interface-interrupting way of viewing multiple things on your screen at once — though it really only applies to a specific sort of full-screen-oriented task.
The way it works is pretty thought-free and automatic: Imagine you’re watching an important professional development video in YouTube (because that’s the only type of video you’d ever watch from your work phone, obviously) — and you decide you want to send a message to someone or go look something up in Chrome without stopping playback.
Just hit your Home or Overview key, and bam: The video will shrink down into a small floating box over your home screen or recent apps list, and you can go about your other business while continuing to watch.
Android 8.0 Oreo: Picture In Picture
Open any other app you want, and the floating box will remain in place. You can even drag it around the screen to position it wherever you like. Tap it, and you’ll get a set of playback controls along with a button to bring it back into a regular full-screen view within its own app. Want the box to go away altogether? Just fling it toward the bottom of your screen to dismiss it.
The inevitable asterisk: Android Oreo’s picture-in-picture mode will work only in areas where an app’s developer explicitly decides to support it. For now, it’s available in a relatively small number of titles — apps like YouTube (with an active Play Music/YouTube Red subscription), Google Play Movies (in theory, though it isn’t yet working there for me) as well as Chrome (when you’re playing a video from a web page in a full-screen view) and WhatsApp (when you’re engaged in a video call).
Google Maps has picture-in-picture support available for navigation, meanwhile, though it works only in the beta version of the app as of this writing. And Google Duo supports the feature wholeheartedly, but — well, y’know.
Other apps, including Netflix, are said to have picture-in-picture support in the works and on the way soon.
2. Native auto-fill functionality
Oreo makes it easier than ever to stay signed to various services through Android.
How? Good question, my fellow cookie connoisseur. Android 8.0 makes it happen on two different fronts: First, Google’s own Smart Lock for Passwords system sends out near-instant suggestions for signing into accounts within apps — so if you’ve saved your Twitter credentials in Chrome, for instance, and then try to sign into the Twitter app on your phone, the system will prompt you to fill in your username and password with a single tap.
Second, if you use a password management service like Dashlane, 1Password or LastPass, you’ll be able to use said service to sign into accounts all throughout your device without the need for any awkward pop-ups or back-and-forth authorization (which is how most of those services have managed to make things work thus far). You can see a demo of the difference at the blog of Dashlane, which has already integrated the feature into its app.
It’ll be up to each service to support the Oreo-level auto-fill feature, but most of the other big names (including LastPass, 1Password and Enpass) have already committed to doing so in the foreseeable future, and some have already rolled out beta-level integration.