You have questions about Android O and we have answers. Here's the skinny on what you need to know about Google's next.
Android O is upon us! Well, not really. But the first developer preview has been released and we're starting to uncover what Google has been doing with Android for the past year and what to expect when it's released.
Google says to expect the full version in the fall of 2017 (likely with a Pixel 2 that runs it), but we should see a major update and a new preview version in mid-May right around the time Google I/O 2017 is happening. Our bet is that we will also see a proper beta program release then, but Google hasn't said as much.
In the meantime, we'll keep this page updated as the best place to find everything you need to know about Android O!
What's new in Android O
We have to start with all the changes under the hood that come with Android O. And we expect plenty of them!
With the first developer preview, we saw some exciting stuff that will have a big impact for developers and the apps they can make. New ways to use custom fonts and icons, a better way to deliver professional-level audio and awesome ways to connect with others for things like head-to-head gaming or local social applications.
We expect a lot more but this is enough for us to be excited as ever for the next version of Android.
What's the status of the Android Beta program?
Right now, the Android Beta program is still used for testing builds of Android 7.1. Rumors suggest that 7.1.2 will be the last Android 7 release to go through the Beta Program and we'll see a switch to the Android 8 platform come May, right around the time Google I/O 2017 is happening.
As public beta builds are supposed to be close to the release version and not something that will break things, this makes a lot of sense. We'll keep you updated on the beta builds and you'll know when the first Android O beta becomes available!
Should you install the Android O developer preview?
As mentioned above, builds of Android that aren't yet ready for the beta program aren't really ready for prime-time, at least not for consumers. Expect the phone to be buggy in plenty of ways, applications to not play nice with the preview and there's no way you should depend on your phone being available in the case of an emergency if you're messing about with the developer preview.
We know it's tempting, and if you have an "extra" Nexus or Pixel phone laying around you might give it a try. Just think twice before you install it on a phone you need to depend on.
What devices can install the Android O developer preview?
Remember, that doesn't mean Android O will be released for all of those devices, as we saw the Nexus 5 get developer previews for Android 7 and it was not part of the release. There is a lot of work behind the scenes with licensing and software versioning so just because a device can run the software doesn't mean it will officially see it.
How do I try the developer preview, and how do I roll back if I want to?
One of the best things about Nexus and Pixel products is that Google lets us install the operating system anytime we want to, just like any other computer.
Not only does this help folks who fall victim to the squirrelly world of cellular data connections when they never get an update they should have, but when we want to tinker with the software on our phone we can install any version that's compatible any time we like.
We want to stress one more time that we don't recommend you install the Android O developer preview, or any pre-release software on a device you depend on.
There is a very good chance that things will not work the way you need them to work. This software is released for developers to start building new apps and for testers to find bugs. There is very little support for issues and things are expected to break.
That means you can download and install the Android O developer preview, and if you change your mind (or when the second preview comes along) you can go back to the stable release by reinstalling the operating system. The process isn't difficult, but it does require some computer knowledge and the ability to follow directions to the letter. We've put everything you need to check out the preview and go back when you're finished in one place.