Android Oreo actually is all it’s hyped up to be. It’s the culmination of Google spending years figuring out what worked and ditching what doesn’t. We’ve also had some time to assess Oreo via the public beta on Nexus and Pixel devices. And since developers have also had access for a while now, there’s no shortage of compatible apps.
While there aren’t many striking visual differences, there are definitely changes in usability and customization. Overall, a lot of the changes result in an operating system that is more fun and exciting to use. Despite our gushing about improvements and novelties, you may encounter Oreo for the first time and think, “This doesn’t seem very different.” But let us show you a few of the ways in which it is.
Must Read: What to Expect from Android O
Do you sometimes receive notifications that are important but you just can’t address them right now? Instead of only having the option to either let that notification clutter your screen or dismiss it, you now have a third option to hit snooze. For example, let’s say you receive a Facebook message you aren’t trying to ignore, but it just isn’t that pressing and you are busy at the moment. Snooze it until a better time.
So how do you know if you want to snooze the notification or simply dismiss it? One quick way is Oreo’s new notification alert system, often referred to as notification dots, that allows you to preview each notification and even reply directly from the preview. Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Notifications > Allow Notification Dots. You can also customize notifications by specific app and category by going to Settings > Apps & Notifications > App Info. Other customization options include assigning different background colors, sound alerts, and vibrations to different types of notifications.
Save Time with Smart Text Selector
It can be frustrating to try to select a specific section of text on your smartphone without the aid of a mouse, but not anymore. In Oreo you can simply double-tap on phone numbers, addresses, and more to select them in their entirety. Copying and pasting is now much easier. This feat is made possible through machine learning, but that doesn’t mean that your information isn’t kept safe from the Cloud.
Widgets and App Shortcuts
Shortcuts initiate a task and widgets give you immediate information and actions, and now you can pin them wherever you please (via drag and drop). It’s easier than ever to add widgets to your home screen. Long-press any app and you will be presented with the app’s available launcher shortcuts. This will make your widgets and shortcuts much easier to locate.
It’s hard to keep up with hundreds of different passwords, especially when they can all have varying requirements for special characters, capital letters, etc. Oreo’s Autofill feature can retain your passwords, addresses, usernames, and phone numbers for you. You’re probably already used to your browser offering to store these for you, but now Google offers auto fill within apps, too. You can choose from a third-party password manager of your choice, such as 1Password or Dashlane, and still enjoy a fully supported experience. This is a truly time-saving Android Oreo feature.
Search More Effectively with Revamped Settings Menu
Oreo’s Settings menu has received a makeover, and its new arrangement makes more sense than before. In place of Wireless and Networks, Network and Internet houses Wi-Fi, Data Usage, Mobile, Hotspot, and VPN on one screen. Settings is more compact because it is much more logically set up, and the setting you are looking for is easier to locate. The magnifying glass at the top of the Settings panel can also help you find what you need.
Change Icon Shape
Oreo finally allows users to get more say in the appearance of your icons without having to resort to downloading a third-party app for money or with tons of ads. Now all you have to do is long-press the home screen, select Settings, and choose Change Icons. You can elect to have all of your icons be the same shape for some consistency. You get to choose from square, squircle, teardrop, and rounded square.
Enforce Background Limits on Apps
In the past, Android has been criticized for being the Wild West when it comes to app background behavior. Now, in order to improve battery life and performance, Oreo helps you reduce apps operating in the background without your knowledge. Oreo brings this information to your attention in the form of a notification. All it takes is a tap to force stop the app. Furthermore, you can select which apps you want to give permission to run in the background.
Picture in Picture
Sometimes you just need to multi-task. You might be watching a YouTube video that brings up a question you need to Google. You no longer have to choose between watching the rest of your video or conducting your search. You can have both windows open and working for you – at the same time.
Enjoy Better Security
Google Play Protect is a new security feature to help crack down on hackers and malware. It automatically scans your apps for threats, and if it detects one it wastes no time in deleting it from your Android. Google estimates that the service can handle up to 50 billion apps per day. Find My Device is a component that can help you locate your lost phone, and/or lock and erase your phone’s data before it falls into the wrong hands.
Oreo’s Accessibility button was devised with the hearing or vision impaired in mind, but even if you don’t fall into either of those categories, you still might find it useful. And if you are part of the 19% of the population that is disabled, you might find this Android Oreo tip crucial. Navigation via voice command could come in handy when you have your hands full. In fact, in any instance when you can’t fully interact with your Android, like while driving or at a loud party, accessibility features can help you. You can access the options from the Settings menu, or even from your lock screen (via the long-press of both volume buttons) once your service selection is made.
What services can you choose from? There’s Select to Speak, magnification, Switch Access, and a separate control for media volume. The latter means that you can have music playing quietly in the background, with onscreen feedback in the foreground at a higher volume. Once the Accessibility button is activated, it will appear as a fourth option beside the Back, Home, and Overview navigation buttons at the bottom of your screen.
Enable Developer Quick Settings
To gain access to advanced options like Window Animation Scale (lower numbers can make your Android feel a little more snappy), Show Layout Bounds, Force RTL Layout Direction (helps if you are left-handed), and Profile GPU Rendering, you must first enable Developer Mode; then enable Quick Settings for Developers. Once you do, you will be able to see more information and control running processes, enable OEM unlocking, set a background process limit, enable USB debugging, set up automatic system updates, and more.
To turn on Developer Mode, go to Settings > System > About Phone and tap on Build Number about seven times. Now you will have a new selection in Settings called Developer Options that you can turn on, and find the option to enable Quick Settings Developer Tiles below. Once activated, you can exchange notification icons for quick actions, and edit these to be quick developer options.
Octopus Easter Egg
They might not seem like it, but developers are fun-loving people, which is why they almost always include a fun hidden feature. Maybe not the most useful, but still a neat surprise, Oreo’s Easter egg is an octopus. You can watch it float, or drag it around the screen. You can access it much the same way you enable Developer Mode—by going to Settings > About Phone and tapping the Android version repeatedly. Long-press the Oreo, and you’ll see the octopus with its eight tentacles, representing Android 8.0.
New Wi-Fi Features
Formerly known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN), Google has added the Wi-Fi Aware feature to Oreo. This feature allows nearby devices to connect with one another over Wi-Fi without a central access point. There’s no requirement for Internet, Mobile Data, or GPS for the devices to connect with one another. This means that you can share apps and play games with said devices.
Oreo also allows you to automatically enable Wi-Fi based upon location. The locations are referred to as high-quality saved networks. To enable the feature, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Preferences and toggle on Turn on Wi-Fi automatically. Also worth noting, an enhanced Wi-Fi assistant allows you to connect securely to open Wi-Fi networks by using a VPN. This Android Oreo trick will protect your privacy.
Oreo may not be as double-stuffed as some of the previous rollouts on the surface, but what’s between those two chocolate cookies is more useful and substantive in a lot of ways. It’s as though Google took a little time for self-reflection, and to try to improve on criticisms and weaknesses. Android has naturally long been pitted against iOS, and it borrowed some beneficial features (the notification dots look pretty similar to what you’d find on iOS), but it still managed to retain what makes Android unique and superior (like granular customization). With Oreo, Android has moved past that awkward pimply stage into maturation.
What is your favorite feature of Android Oreo? Do you have others to add to this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments. We hope you are enjoying Oreo’s sweetness.