Smartphones from Google began to receive a major upgrade to the operating system — Android 8.0 Oreo. Unlike the previous OS release, there are not many visible changes in the «cookie»: all the most interesting is «inside». Many innovations are aimed at improving security and are invisible to the average user. Let’s try to figure out whether you need to rush to update the system on your smartphone.
In general, all changes to the interface of the eighth version look like bringing to the logical conclusion of the work begun in the «seven»: nothing cardinal, but a lot of cosmetic dodges.
For example, the «Play Music» panel now changes its background and text color, depending on the colors of the album cover.
The color of the curtain. The pull-out panel has become light, and the number of rows of switches in it is adjusted automatically depending on the screen size of the smartphone: for example, on the Nexus 5X, there are two instead of three rows.
Notification timer. A useful option was added to the notification settings, available to the user right in the blind,: they can be removed from the eyes for a certain time. There are four options — postpone for 15 minutes, for an hour, two or three.
Notification Categories. Now, application alerts can be divided into several types. You can access them by moving the notification and clicking the gear icon (or a long tap on the notification). You can immediately see how many categories of notifications the application has, and go to their settings (to see the categories for those programs that have not yet been shown in the curtain, go to Settings → Applications and Notifications → Application Permissions → Notifications). YouTube, for example, has two categories of notifications: General Notification and Notifications about saving video. And the «native» Gmail client has the ability to enable or disable notification of messages with attached files.
Thus, access to the notification settings of different applications can be obtained from the system menu. Google’s approach is clear: you can turn off unnecessary «whistles» in several different programs without launching them. But this leads to strange loops in the interface. So, in the settings of notifications Gmail is invited to open the application to change additional parameters, from which in turn, there is a reverse «redirection» to the system tool.
Notifications on the icons. Continuing the theme of notifications, it should be noted that the «clean» Android finally got what the firmware from vendors knew many years ago. It’s about notifications on application icons. By default, the notification is displayed as a small blue dot on the icon (Notification Dots), however, software developers can change them. For example, the counter of unread messages can be displayed on the messenger icon. In addition, the function of adding widgets is simplified: a long tap on the icon will open a menu from which all the widgets of a particular program will be available.
Nevertheless, there is one fat «but»: everything is available only for smartphones Pixel, where as a launcher installed Pixel Launcher. Of course, you can take a chance and install it from the APK-file, but it’s up to you to decide how useful it is to download the program from an unknown source for the sake of blue dots for icons.
New settings menu. Cosmetic «repair» occurred in the system settings. Root menu reorganized and reduced the number of items — from 26 to 13! This also made it possible to get rid of the excess side menu.
«Picture in Picture». At this stage, a small number of applications can work in this mode, among them YouTube, Duo messenger and VLC player. With such programs, the user will work with the operating system, without interrupting the video viewing. Something similar is implemented inside the client for YouTube: you can, without stopping to watch the video, look for new videos.
«Smart» text selection. Another innovation in the operating system interface is related to working with text, more precisely, with the context menu: it changes depending on which particular text fragment is highlighted. For example, if you select an address, you can immediately open Google Maps from it, and when you select a phone number, you will be able to call the subscriber without having to copy the number to the «phone».
New emoji. And finally, for what it’s worth to download the update — normal round emoji, among which 60 new ones.
Most of the internal changes are not noticeable to the user, and some innovations are not. For example, Google Play Protection is just an indicator of the protection mechanism Verify Apps, which has been in Android for a long time. It’s really new that developers got access to the API part of this tool with Android 8 and can create software that, for example, will not be installed on the device, if Verify Apps reports security problems.
Another noticeable change has affected the installation of third-party software. Previously, the permission to install applications not from Google Play was «given out» by one switch in the system settings, but now we have to resolve this to every process that wants to run the installation. Run the installation from the browser — the browser, try to open the APK file manager — the file manager.
From now on, each program can «cut off oxygen» during its work in the background. In this case, the system itself monitors that it works «in the background», and draws the user’s attention to processes that are quite apart. It’s interesting that during the test, Oreo detected the WhatsApp messenger several times in the background and output an alert that disappeared after a couple of seconds.
In addition, there is the possibility of password protection access to the options «for developers» and a more serious protection against the hidden receipt of rights by applications. Also, the WebView system component was isolated in a separate process, and it became impossible to find out information about the device and system accounts without the user’s knowledge and permission.
Last year, during the upgrade of devices to Android 7, some users were faced with the problem of cyclic reboot into which their gadgets «fell». Then she decided to go to the service center. Now Google has included the Rescue Party function in the firmware: it controls the boot process of the smartphone, and if the system «crashes» several times in a row, it downloads the OS in safe mode.
Over time, the situation should improve largely due to the implementation of Project Treble. Simplified, within the framework of this project, the «insides» of the system have been reworked, and many components of the OS now work each in their own «sandbox». In addition, Treble is designed to solve problems with updates. If you do not go into details, you can say that the new «modular» architecture will allow you to upgrade the OS without having to remodel this «customized» part of the vendor’s firmware. True, Project Treble still supports only a few gadgets, which will receive updates to Oreo.
With the new firmware, developers promised a performance boost and increased download speed. As for the second index, it almost doubled: the previous version of Android was loaded 48 seconds, the new one takes only 25. But there are practically no changes in the system’s performance: in AnTuTu Nexus 5x got 64 775 «parrots» — about the same as show the same smartphones running Android 7. Test for battery life PCMark showed five and a half hours before the full discharge.
As we said at the beginning of the article, the current update is not so full of visual changes as the past. Now the interface is soon finalized. But this feature should primarily be supported by the software, and so far there are not so many applications that use it. Changes in the security system and the system as a whole are much more significant, but for the average user they are as imperceptible as before. Moreover, given the situation on the market, they will not lead to any notable results. Although, of course, users can amuse themselves with the idea that their smartphone has become a bit safer.