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Google Debuts the Android O Beta Program, Now Live for Nexus and Pixel Devices

At the Google I/O 2017 event, the company formally announced the debut of the Android O Beta Program. Developers and other users can now enroll themselves for the program, provided you own a compatible device. Currently, Google has uploaded flashable images of Android O Developer Preview 2 for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, and the Pixel XL.

You can get the Android O Developer Preview 2 via an OTA update as well, simply by enrolling in the Beta Program. Once you are enrolled, your device will continue to all future releases, so you will not have to flash anything manually. Even if you were enrolled in the Android Nougat Beta Program earlier, it is required that you re-enroll yourself to the Android O Beta Program in order to receive the new updates and try out Android O.

One of the most exciting new features of Android O is the new Picture-in-picture multitasking mode. It lets you manage two apps simultaneously, making it easy to perform two tasks at once. The feature supports pretty much all screen sizes, so you don’t need a huge screen to make the most out of it.

For improved battery life, Android O introduces background limits for apps. Users can choose to limit background activity of certain apps, which could potentially help reduce battery drain.

Smart Text Selection is another great feature that Google is adding with Android O. The feature automatically highlights important info such as a physical address, phone number, URL, or an email address, making it easier for users to copy and paste them.

With Nougat, Google revamped the notifications system significantly, and now with Android O, it has found a better way to manage all your notifications. Google has added Notification Dots to app icons in Android O, indicating that the app has some new notifications for the user. When you tap on it, you will see a bubble giving you a preview of those notifications, without having to launch the app itself.

In addition to new features, Google has also worked hard to improve overall performance, as well as security with Android O. Boot times, are said to have been reduced by half, while app launch times have also been cut down significantly. As far as security is concerned, Android O includes Google Play Protect, a service that scans for harmful apps and removes them automatically from your device. It can also locate your device in case it is lost or stolen.

For low-end devices, Google announced the new Android Go project, which can be thought of as a successor to the Android One project. With Android Go, Google is targeting phones with 512MB or 1GB of RAM. Android Go will include ‘lite’ versions of core Google apps such as the Play Store and YouTube Go, which are optimized to work well even with less memory and use data very efficiently. The Android Go devices will come with the Chrome Data Saver feature enabled by default, allowing users to save data when browsing.