Android 8.0 Oreo offers a handful of obvious improvements -- such as better app notifications -- but much of what's new takes place behind the scenes to rein in resource-hungry apps.
Improved app notifications: Through notification channels, apps will have more control over the types of notifications they send, and users will be able to better manage notification settings. App icons can display a notification dot, alerting you that a notification needs to be addressed or dismissed.
Picture-in-picture comes to phones: On phones and tablets, apps will be able to open a floating window for video playback. Picture-in-picture, or PIP, is already available for Android TV.
Focus on power conservation and performance: Behind the scenes, Android 8.0 will attempt to get a better grip on what apps are doing in the background to preserve resources and battery life.
Support for autofill: Android 8.0 will support autofill, allowing users to fill in log-in, account, and credit-card fields automatically.
And more: The update will do a better job of managing fonts, reproducing colors, and handling audio. And Oreo will support Wi-Fi Aware, also called Neighborhood Awareness Networking, which lets Android phones within range of each other receive notifications of applications or services in the area. Finally, Oreo will let users add shortcuts and widgets to perform actions and tasks.
The wait: Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel C, and Pixel XL owners should be able to download and install Android 8.0 quickly. If you have a Samsung, HTC, Moto, OnePlus, or other third-party Android phone, however, you most likely will have to wait. And wait. So far, handset makers and carriers have successfully resisted Google's push to get them to release major Android updates more quickly.
OEM overlays and apps: It's great for the Android handset makers and carriers that Google lets them add their own custom interfaces and apps because it lets them differentiate their devices. For the handset owners, however, it's not so great. Users have to navigate through multiple cameras, calendars, clocks, messaging apps, and security tools -- often using identical names and similar icons -- to find the apps they want to use. For a pure Android experience, get a Nexus or Pixel.
With Oreo, Google keeps to its annual Android update. While Oreo may lack some of the flash of earlier versions, it works to make using Android a smoother experience and is another welcome update to the mobile OS.