Second Opinion

Second Opinion is a reviews show about anything and everything under the sun. If we can experience it, we can review it.

Android 8.0 Oreo Review

Episode #30The Fringe #450

This year Ian R Buck finds himself all alone for the review of the latest version of Android. Highlights include a reorganized notifications tray, a fully redesigned emoji set, system-wide password manager, and picture-in-picture mode!

Episode Summary

00:00 | Intro

02:22 | Notifications

  • Organized by categories: Major Ongoing, People to People, General, BTW
    • Major Ongoing typically have bold background colors. Looks especially great with media players that implement it.
    • BTW notifications are tiny, at the bottom, and don’t create icons in the status bar
  • HATE the “an app is running in the background” notification
    How to Hide the "App is Running in the Background" Persistent Notification on Android Oreo
    • Good idea, but annoying implementation. I always have Pebble running.
    • Exempt: keyboards, live wallpapers, notification listeners, accessibility apps, and anything the OEM puts on.
  • Snooze notifications is a great concept! Works just like snoozing messages in Inbox: that individual notification goes away for a certain period of time, then comes back.
  • Notification channels: apps can specify different categories for notifications, and if they do the user can set different priority levels for each
  • Notification dots on home screen icons

10:58 | Quick settings

  • Visual cues about which icons are toggles and which expand menus
    • It takes way more taps to start Do Not Disturb for 30 minutes
  • Don’t like the white notification tray/quick settings
    • On Pixel 2, setting a dark wallpaper changes quick settings to dark theme

14:19 | Unusual rollout to Nexus 5X

16:00 | Settings app rearranged

  • Many categories merged
  • I have personally been having a hard time finding things, but the search bar saves me
  • Some options show up in multiple places, making it more likely that you will find it if you are looking around for it
  • Official method for users to add ringtones

17:46 | Emoji

  • Completely redesigned emoji set
    • It’s... okay. I liked the flatness of the old set, but I like the shape consistency of the new one.
    • 69 new ones, hurr hurr
  • EmojiCompat allows apps to display emoji from newer versions of Android
    • Google Play Services is the font provider

22:52 | Home screen/launcher

  • Adaptive icons require developers to submit a foreground image and a background, and the launcher chooses what shape cutout to make the background
    • Don’t like that more of my icons are dinner plates
    • Fortunately Action Launcher lets me manually change them
  • Apps can now surface their widgets from within the app, so the user doesn’t have to dig through the All Widgets list to find them

27:31 | Quick text selection

  • Detects when you are selecting something like an address, phone number, email, URL, etc and selects the whole thing at once
  • Alongside cut/copy/paste it can surface an appropriate app to open that in

29:44 | Password manager, autofill

  • Synchronizes the info you saved on Chrome and makes it available in Android
  • Also makes this framework available to third party password managers

31:54 | Security

  • Apps can only request location once every 30 minutes in background
  • There is now a proper way for apps to create floating UI (like FB Messenger bubbles) that doesn’t abuse System Alert Window
  • Google Play Protect now shows up all over the place (especially in Settings and Play Store) to assure the user Google is doing antivirus work
  • Sideloading permission is now grated on a per-source basis
    • Unfortunately, Chrome is listed as one source
  • Verified Boot will not boot an OS that has been downgraded
  • Apps are more limited on how they can identify the device. Google’s recommended method now is Advertising ID
  • Kernel access is much more limited
  • WebView is sandboxed
  • Asks for device password when enabling developer options

39:46 | Miscellaneous

  • Finally!
    • Picture-in-picture
    • Night mode
    • Support for 97% of printers in the world without plugins
  • Easter Egg is a creepy octopus you can drag around
  • Bluetooth 5 support
  • Rescue Party
    • If Android detects that your build of Android is failing, it will go through a series of steps to try to recover, clearing various caches and restarting. The final step is booting into recovery and prompting the user to factory reset.
  • Android Go
    • Version of Android built for the developing world: low-memory phones in areas with low data caps

46:54 | Updates

  • Streaming updates: phones using the A/B partition update system will now write updates directly to their unused partition, instead of storing it on the user partition first. Should get rid of “you need to free up storage” problems.
  • Project Treble
    • Should remove the need for SOC vendors to test and reimplement each new version of Android, making it more likely for 3rd-party devices to get timely updates. Currently this is the main reason phones only have two years of updates: Qualcomm only releases drivers for their SOC for two years.
    • Obstacles still in the way: OEM skinning and cellular carrier approval.
    • This should make it much easier to replace OEM customizations with third-party ROMs because AOSP builds will work with all Treble devices.
    • Not sure if apps that want to ensure they are running on an “approved” version of Android (like Netflix or Android Pay) will work on third-party ROMs
    • All devices that ship with Android 8 use Treble. Upgrading devices it’s optional (original Pixel is the only known one so far)