This morning at Google I/O, the company announced some of the bigger new features in the next iteration of its mobile OS, Android O. While it doesn’t look to be an overhaul of the OS in any way, these two new features that were announced will have Android fans very interested.
We don’t know the dessert it’ll be named after yet, but we do know that these two features are game changers for the future of Android:
Android has had a hard time getting multitasking to really work, especially on the tablet side of things. However, Google announced a new multitasking option called Picture-in-Picture that could really work well. We’ve got something like this already on the iPad Pro, but the difference here is that Android will let you do it on your phone and with any app.
We don’t know all of the apps that work with Picture-in-Picture, but the two most helpful examples Google showed off were YouTube and Google Maps. In both cases, while having a YouTube video playing or having a Google Maps trip started, just press the Home button to close you out of the app, but leave it open in a smaller window.
It’s similar to what Google has done within the YouTube app for years now, except on a system-wide scale. The smaller windowed apps are not just minimized versions of the full app, they are specially made for use in Picture-in-Picture mode. You can move it around the screen, as well as flick it away to close it.
As always, the most interesting thing to see will be how developers begin using this kind of multitasking in its third party apps. Let’s get some Netflix and Spotify support going!
The second big feature to Android O isn’t a standard “feature” at all. Instead, it’s a massive performance upgrade happening within the OS itself. Google didn’t go into detail on all of what was happening behind the scenes, but Director of Product Management Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson said that there was all sorts of changes to background processes to make apps run smoother and boot up faster. She stated that apps should boot up twice as fast on the Pixel and—as an example—common actions in an app like Google Sheets perform twice as fast as well.
She also stated that in Android O, there are limitations being put in to protect battery life, which is something that just about every smartphone out there struggles with. “These boundaries put sensible limits on usage,” she said. “They’re protecting battery life and freeing up memory.”
Google also showed off a couple of other features such as some nifty changes to cut and paste, as well as Notifications Dots, which will let you know when an app has a notification for you right on the Home screen.
Those are just a few of the new features in Android O, which is going into beta testing today.