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Android Oreo will look like Android Nougat for almost everyone

Android dudes
Android dudes (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

We've all had a good long look at Android Oreo. A few have been using it for the life of the beta and are running it on their phone right now, but most of us are waiting and will continue to wait for a while. One universal truth is that when Oreo comes to phones that sold well and we see millions of people getting it, we'll hear how it looks the same and that makes it a disappointment.

To make this worse, all the phones from Samsung and LG and HTC and everyone who is not Google or Motorola probably won't even resemble all the screenshots of Oreo you see here at Android Central and every other place on the internet that talks about Android.

I'm going to nip this one in the bud: none of that matters. It never did matter and it never will matter.

Android is old software. I don't mean that in a bad way — it's old as in finished and not being redesigned every six months. Expecting big changes to the interface was normal for the first few versions, but now you will see more refined and focused changes, like what we see in the updated notification shade. These changes are designed to give the user more information, give developers new ways to make the users happy, and be integrated into the user interface easily. The same goes for the other visual tweaks in Oreo: the icons and notification dots. When you do something that supports an entire platform and can be pulled into any interface, you go slow.

The time for big changes to the interface has passed.

In other words, these visual changes were built in a way that Samsung and every other company making phones could use them and keep everything looking the same as it did before you updated. You'll still be able to do things like choosing which notification channels you want to see or expand a notification to see more info, but Oreo on your Galaxy S8 will look just like Nougat did. Samsung likes the way it looks, and since you bought it, presumably you do, too. And if you don't you hit Google Play and replace damn near all of it.

We know this to be true with the only non-Google phone running Oreo: the as of yet unreleased Sony Xperia XZ1. Check the video and see what we mean.

Yup. Looks the same. But god damn I want that tiny Compact. Bad.

Anyway, that's not what is important with Oreo. And won't be the important part of Android P or Android Q. The important things that make Android better each and every time are what goes on behind the scenes, and Oreo has a few changes that are a pretty big deal.

What will make the most difference to us while we use our phones is the new way background limits are done. We've covered them in all their technical glory (hit the link below) but the tl;dr is that they will keep your phone from bogging down when you have a ton of apps open and "running." The app you are looking at will run better because the apps you're not looking at have a set of rules that keep them from hogging all the resources. I'm hoping that means I will never watch my keyboard lag three letters behind ever again.

Android Oreo features you'll love: Background Execution Limits

Other big changes are the new way fonts and emojis are handled and the Autofill APIs. Every phone that gets updated to Oreo will benefit here. Even if your phone doesn't look like the pictures you've seen online when it's updated, it gets these new features and more from the security side and others that make life easier for developers. And that's what really counts. Without developers, an entire platform will die, even if it's a really good platform.

Folks will rush to Reddit or comment sections across the web to complain that Android is stale when their phone gets the Oreo update. And they will all be wrong.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

77 Comments
  • Well..yes...and no. For example, people who buy Nokia phones - and there are way more than, to be honest, even I think there should given what's being offered - are getting a pretty big change with 8.0 which you certainly prefered to skip, Jerry. And that's the horrendous shift to white backgrounds everywhere, including the notification tray. So someone who buys a 7.0 Android phone with the stock look and likes it and then sees it changed to a completely different look after an update and doesn't like it, is not going to have a good experience. Sure, fortunately Android 8.0 now has OMS built into AOSP with full support for themes and the folks at Substratum have already announced they'll be able to provide an app to completely theme Android using what Sony did and Google finished implementing without the need to root. And that will solve that problem.
    But even that will still require access to a desktop to grant elevated privileges through ADB. It's fairly simply and anyone who can follow simple instructions will be able to do it...but let's face it. That will be me. And you. And other people in these tech forums.
    The average Joe will not even know that such a thing is available. They'll simply be confronted with the startling change. As you said, yeah, most people won't. Because most people don't buy phones with stock Android. But there are those who will. And such a change might not be welcomed by them (I sure know I would immediately sell a stock Android phone is 8.0 didn't support theming and I was forced into those horrendous white backgrounds everywhere...)
  • That third paragraph is interesting... Hadn't heard that... It'll be nice to get access to substratum layers again now that I've not rooted. Although I agree uptake will be very limited among the "normals".
  • Most people do not care. As long as the phone works, OS is easy to operate is all that is important. Most people have no idea what software level is on their phone and think Keep is a cookie.
  • Actually, a LOT of normal consumers absolutely do care. I don't even work in a phone store anymore (it's actually been MANY years), but I swear every other time I'm in one I hear somebody complaining about an update that changed how their phone works. Once people get used to how a phone works any change to that will cause friction. People that read AC probably enjoy that friction (the joy of discovery), but other people don't want to waste time learning a new way of doing things. All that being said, does it sort of make sense now why iOS pretty much never makes major paradigm shifts to how the OS looks and feels? I for one would love for Apple to support real widgets on the main home screens, but imagine all the "normals" that would lash out against it because it changes how they're used to things working.
  • I like how you didn't disagree with the assertion that most people won't see a change but you still felt the need to write three pointless paragraphs talking about Nokia.
  • Then you understood nothing of what I wrote. I advise you to re-read everything. Use your brain this time.
  • Yeah you're right, I skimmed. Sorry about that.
  • Android's UI has no color. It's determined by whoever builds it into their operating system. I guess Google could let it default to neon pink to force developers to change a line or two in the code.
  • Some OEMs already use white background on most of the UI.
  • Marshmallow to Nougat changed a lot with Samsung, it's very well possible Samsung will change it again for Oreo. But you are right that the behind the scenes changes are more important than visual.
  • Any visual changes Samsung makes will be Samsung's own doing, not necessarily changes from Oreo itself.
  • Jerry: "But god damn I want that tiny Compact. Bad" -- ugh, same here Jerry...same here.
    In fact, I'm thinking of getting the smaller Pixel just to downsize. I have loved the 6P but I'm ready for the Nexus 5 size again. But I didn;t want to give up dual front-facing speakers. Pixel 2 might fit the bill...maybe.
  • Please don't take the Lord's name in vain
  • Jesus Christ, who cares...
  • More than you think
  • And yet, god damn, why should I care what they think?
  • who said you should?
  • Would you have cared if he had said the word ni66er or fa66ot? If so, realize your ignorance, because for Christians, hearing God's name used in vain is every bit as offensive.
  • Poor persecuted Christians.
  • And you just made yourself very much irrelevant.
  • Have i? You equated slurs against two minority groups that have lived in fear of being discriminated against and subjected to violence in this country based on who they are to using the word god in a context you don't approve. That's not a good look.
  • I didn't take anyone's name in vain. You obviously don't know what a quote is.
    Please return to fifth grade English class and better yourself.
  • I too dig the xz1 compact
  • At this point, I don't really get excited about features baked into the OS. Chances are whatever "new" feature is in there was probably already programmed into some earlier phone by an OEM. I do, however, care about improvements in performance and security advances like we see have been seeing since Lollipop. I'm pleased with the work Android has done with Oreo, because the "back of the house" is more important to me. Good article and thanks, Jerry.
  • Wouldn't mind that the interface is "stale" it it wasn't so damn ugly... It's ruled the pixels out for me. It won't be finished til there's a theme engine. Or at least a dark theme.
  • Please do not use the Lord's name in vain in your post. This is offensive to many people.
  • What makes you think he's talking about your god? The fact that he wrote it with a lowercase "g" while the eponymous and somewhat unoriginal "God" (Y'all don't call it Yahweh anymore...) Of Abrahamic faiths is a proper noun would suggest he meant one of the others... Perhaps Odin, Thoth or Bacchus (a few of my favourites). Anyway, offence is taken, not given. Turn one of your other cheeks... It's what Jesus would do. Allegedly.
  • Thank you!
  • Yep. It's not Jerry's fault that they call their god God.
  • Jesus only said to give the other cheek 'cause he knew he could count on his daddy to enact revenge for him. That's cheating. I would also give the other cheek if I knew my father could turn entire cities into salt. :P
  • Dude. Well said.
  • Grow up. If ni66er is offensive, so is using God's name in a cuss word. Find some other way to communicate, or don't get offended by anything.
  • First off, calling someone something used to denigrate a member of a group of people that were subjugated for generations versus using the name of a fictitious deity is possibly the falsest false equivalency I've ever heard. One is just a name, you may not like it's casual use, but it isn't meant to offend. The other comes from a place of hatred... It's meant to HURT the people it's directed towards. Secondly, I'm not offended by that word, or any word. I simply assume anyone using it is an idiot or a bigot... Or, most likely, a bigoted idiot. Finally, and most importantly, did you even read my comment? Did you have trouble understanding it? My point was, how do you know he's even talking about your god? "God" as you name it, is merely one deity amongst many... And far from the most interesting of them to boot.
  • Usually when someone uses the n-word their goal is to offend and usually offense is taken. God damn is common phrase used to express anger and frustration and is not directed towards anyone. Also, god (lowercase) is a generic term. It's not referring to any specific god.
  • God damn him for doing that. 🙄
  • Lol, you are such a provocatuer. Weak
  • I don't give a god damn what you think. God damn. Need a safe space, snowflake?
  • No snowflake here, nothing offends me. Pointing out you are trying to get a rise out of certain commenters. I noticed that some libs are trying to hijack the term snowflake. Come up with your own term. You didn't come up with it , the far right did. So unoriginal.
  • So... It's cultural appropriation, then? Lol.
  • Yes, she must have my permission. Lol Call it what you want, I find it hilarious and lazy when libs use the term. How you been? How's things across the pond?
  • Tbh I think the same of both sides... If we have disagreements we should be forming cogent arguments and discussing them civilly rather than throwing ridiculous insults at each other like a bunch of 5 year olds... But that's never going to happen, and I've accidentally stopped joking lol. Cultural appropriation is largely nonsense anyway :p Much better than on your side, to be honest. There is a lot of crazy stuff going on in the US at the moment... It's a real shame.
  • Wholeheartedly agree. Have a good one. Never stop joking, you do it well.
  • You too. Not sure where you are exactly, but try to stay out of the way of hurricanes, wildfires and whatever terrible craziness strikes next :) And thanks, lol. Not sure many would agree :D
  • Yes, the cursing does not make your article more valid or carry any more weight. Your use of offensive language also does not make you any "cooler". How about being a stronger person and choose not to use profanity.
  • Grow the **** up snowflake.
  • This
  • Yeah, it's kind of funny. This is probably the most buttoned down and censored Android site when it comes to profanity and comment content. Which is fine, AC makes the rules. Jerry is trying to add a little shock value which usually fails . Lets have some consistency. All or nothing, not just a one way street for the writers.
  • Wasn't trying to be cool, or whatever you might think. I was just being myself. I dictate most of my posts and let my computer do the typing, so it's just something I said.
  • Jerry, I like you. I read your stuff all the time. My comments on here are not directed personally at you, but rather at the stupidity and ignorance of those who try to pick and choose what is to be deemed offensive speech. My point is that if you're going to be one of these Antifa loving social justice warriors, then at least try to appear less idiotic than you already are by applying your outrage at offensive speech across the board.
  • I'm just trying to say that it slipped past because I dictate. I usually try not to be myself so nobody is offended. And I keep my opinion of anitfa and everyone else to myself while at work :)
  • God and god are two different things.
  • Seriously? You are offended by that? You must live on an island totally isolated from the real world....
  • Has nothing to with that. It's just that all the social justice warriors out there say that words matter. Either they matter for everyone, meaning don't useful offensive words period, or just use whatever offensive words you want, toward anybody or any group. It's called equal application, and this is the America that so many whine for. So here you go...
  • ^^^triggered^^^ Need a safe space, snowflake?
  • Christians do not have the right to censor non-Christians.
  • I don't have a samsung phone, so from what I've heard, they already had picture in picture. if that's true, why couldn't it be implemented on nougat devices? All the other stuff on oreo is well and good( I like the way it's gonna handle background task, and security advances ), but project treble doesn't interest me, as I would change the stock rom anyway, after 6 months, and I like the way I setup my phone for notifications, so no change is necessary for me. Something that can already be done on nougat(pip) should be officially supported, like the eventual addition of the assistant was to marshmallow, when people started to ask for it.
  • Android is just the OS. Samsung, or any OEM for that matter, still puts their own programming into their devices. There is a disconnect in how enthusiasts think about the OS. Android can do almost anything, having "anything" added to the base OS is a convenience, but there are few restrictions to what the OEMs or a regular application can allow you to do. Many features are just an interpretation/skin and one reason why features can differ so much between manufacturers, but it's not native to the base.
  • There are two ways to do that (PiP). Add it on top of an existing way to draw what's on the screen, which is what Samsung did. That uses a lot of resources and runs in a separate process. Integrating it at the platform level (built-in to the system that draws what's on the screen) is what Google and Apple have done. That uses no extra resources and doesn't spawn any extra processes — only what is necessary to run both apps in the foreground. Method one is fine on a device with a fast CPU and plenty of system RAM. Method two is fine on devices that don't quite have the oomph that other phones have. It's doubtful that Google will spend time to backport the changes to earlier versions, but never say never.
  • When you think about it, it depends. Android TV runs nougat, yet it has PIP. I know there are differences, but could it be so hard?
  • I get it... Kinda like how the Note 5 is exactly like the Note 8. =P
  • Bring back ice cream sandwich ! Lol
  • I understand about the importance of the background processes and truly appreciate any performance/security improvements they provide with Oreo and updates to come.
    You have to admit though, the visual changes in past updates were fun!
    And if I were a praying woman, I'd be down on my knees begging for a system wide dark theme.
  • That's one of the reasons why I love Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft got a system wide dark theme right from the start and by that I mean Windows Phone 7. So are we really past the time of interface changes on Android? I don't think so, a system wide dark theme has been asked for by loads of users but Google seems content to blind its users with a white theme.
  • If loads of users actually asked for it they'd have done or long ago. The reality is the vast majority of people have phones from manufacturers that include their own theming engine. Don't confuse a feature you want with a feature that the Android population at large cares about.
  • I don't care what other manufacturers do with Android as that's up to them. The point is that it has been asked for in stock Android and ignored by Google. Just look at requested features and you'll see more than just me having requested it.
  • I never denied that it has been asked for, I just think it's hilarious that you think a ton of people have asked for it. Don't hurt your back lugging that goal post around.
  • Nah, Google don't actually care what users want. They do what they wish safe in the knowledge people will swallow anything because their services are just too useful to quit.
  • @neo...always wondered why system dark theme has been a staple on Windows for so long and not offered on Android.
    I use a black theme on my Samsung but that doesn't translate to system wide unfortunately.
  • Because Microsoft builds and sells software. Google gives away source code that can be built with any color interface. Google chooses grey on their products because they like the look. Other companies either do the same, or refuse to colorize the UI for some other reason. Remember, a group of unpaid hobbyists at places like XDA can do it, so it's not a thing that companies making money off the products can;t do.
  • Agreed
  • Except for that persistent notification Google won't let me dismiss. I'll be skipping Oreo until that is changed. google has given more control over notifications, which is great, but then they block you from using that control on system notifications. I am not about to allow Google to clutter up my notification shade for apps and services I know are running and I want running. Let me dismiss it forever rather than 2 hours and I'll think about updating.
  • I miss the days that Android changed every six months.. but I do love that it's becoming stable ,since as, it was always changing we always wanted it to be stable .lol.
  • All of us here know that what's in the inside counts more. Unfortunately, people - especially the general consumers who don't read this sort of content - tend to be visual people and consider a lack of visual change to be a lack of progress. Even with that said, I read a comment on here recently that stated that Android is "really going down the drain" becsuse ... they didn't like the white notification shade on the Pixel in Oreo.
  • My S5 is still on marshmallow, you insensitive clod!
  • I think when the new Pixels are released with possibly Android 8.1 there will be stuff within Oreo that better differentiate it from Nougat.
  • I am happy to see Android is more stable and there are not sweeping changes. But I love to see how Android improves every iteration and release. Looking forward to it being released for the Essential phone 😀
  • Who really cares besides a small percentage of phone enthusiast and Google. I feel google is pushing this more because it gives them an advantage to selling pixels now and in the future. Do we really need to jump from 7.0 to 8.0 in one year? Is there enough change to justify a new name and marketing angle? Why not just call it 7.5?