A week with Android Oreo: You want this

I've been running the final version of Android Oreo on my Pixel XL for a full work week, and it's better than I expected.

First, the bugs. Bluetooth ('natch) is FUBAR for a lot of people. Bluetooth is always FUBAR anytime it gets updated, and expect it to stay that way for a couple of minor updates. I haven't had it flake out while using my LG Watch Sport (God, what a stupid name) and I don't use Bluetooth headphones nor does my old truck have Bluetooth in any way, shape or form. But a lot of other people have, and Google is doing ... something. It will get sorted out eventually.

Bugs are part of any major software release and Oreo has a couple.

Reports on battery life are all over the place, which is also expected. Initially, mine was horribad, but I reset my phone to fix another issue where notification dots weren't working and other UI glitches were driving me crazy and now it's great with the exact same apps being used the exact same way. Who knows 🤷. We see this every single time a phone is updated and the answer is always the same: factory reset. That sucks, but not doing it and having shitty battery life sucks more.

On to those interface glitches I was having. I wasn't able to see any Picture in Picture "windows", notification dots weren't appearing and I was getting blank space in the notification shade. Following the advice of an acquaintance who happens to work at a place named Google I reset my phone, and when I set it back up I didn't let it pull my saved data from Google's cloud. That fixed it. We (meaning he, because I just nodded and did as I was told) think it had something to do with me having so many active Android devices all backing up data, and things just got intermingled and broken. No matter what the issue, the reset fixed it and fixed my broken battery life.

One day we'll be able to fix things without resorting to a factory reset. Today is not that day.

That was Monday afternoon, and since then I can't find anything to complain about. I'm a little disappointed because having complaints and bugs to write about is a lot easier than not having them. I'm using Project Fi on my XL, which was running the beta and updated automagically Monday when everyone else on the beta got their update. There are no network issues to report, the volume works in calls and Wi-Fi isn't dropping out — three things that have been day one issues with other updates for many.

All things considered, this is really nice update. Even Google Daydream seems to work well, and I was sure I'd be able to write a few hundred words about how it was broken in Oreo. Instead, I'm going to gush over the best thing that has ever been delivered by the Android team: Notification Channels.

You need to look no further than the official Twitter app for Android (opens in new tab) to fall in love with Notification Channels. Twitter is a spammy app. It lets me know when someone is talking to me, but it also wastes my time to tell me when Andrew or Daniel are talking about soccer, or that 19 people I know liked a post where people were fighting about President Trump. I'm glad that Andrew and Daniel enjoy a game of Fußball and that people are passionate when it comes to the government. But if I wanted to know about it, I would open the Twitter app and read it myself.

I've fallen in love with Oreo's Notification Channels.

That's exactly what Notification Channels was designed to do: help me fine-tune an app so I can see the things I want to see and ignore the rest. When an app incorporates it, like Twitter does with the latest version, it's awesome. I'm sure many will appreciate other features like Picture in Picture or icon badges. But Notification Channels is my one thing.

If you've been running Oreo, what's your one thing? There has to be something you love or hate enough to single out and here is your chance to bang keyboards and make words about it.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

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.

  • Jerry,
    Another fine article and I'm looking forward to the Oreo on my phone!
  • Looking forward to it, but not before an OEM has "refined" it and fixed the bugs. It's a shame that Google does year after year such a bad quality testing compared to OEMs. Especially Bluetooth problems are such a common issue with every major update Google pushes to its own hardware - something I never had with Samsung or others. It keeps the Nexus/Pixel line in a position of a developer and geek phone (who have often multiple devices), but not as a reliable daily driver for "everyone". I'm really wondering what budget they're spending on it compared to others.
  • I fixed the notification problem in ICS. I turned them all off, and when I open the app, they all magically appear for my consideration. My life is serene.
  • I'll take a copy for my Note 5, please...
  • Lol.
  • +1 haha
  • Eh. Oreo, Schmoreo. Nevertheless, one factual error: "updated automagically Monday when everyone else on the beta got their update," Nuh-uh. Not everyone on the beta got an update on Monday. Maybe every Pixel XL. But not every Nexus 6P on the beta. And it seems that lots of 6Ps on the beta ain't a-gonna get an update anytime soon.
  • I had dropped off the beta back on the first release since it through my 6P into a boot loop but on Monday I signed back up for the beta and it instantly let me know I could download what proved to be the official release version.
  • Lucky you. I still haven't gotten the Oreo update on my 6p and I'm also on the beta. Google has a lot of issues in its update process. That's why I'm loving my iPhone see and iPad pro because update are instant and there is no waiting. Google has no excuse why it takes so long apple pushes update to thousand of more devices then Google will ever have.
  • Install it yourself from the factory images Google posts online.
  • The best thing about having a nexus or pixel is you can update it yourself... If you don't know how to do that then you really don't need a nexus. It's one of the best features of having a nexus or pixel, power over your phone.
  • I waited 4 days--I know, so patient! chatted with Google Support (useless) and then manually applied the full-ota as an adb sideload to get off DP4 (which I really had no issues with, but why should I remain on beta code when Oreo's released? I don't understand the "Carriers are testing it" stuff when full system images are available, and that's exactly what the "Carriers" will release when their testing is done). I've not had any issues (power, bluetooth, etc) but haven't seen PiP either. Maybe I have the same issue Jerry had.
  • Can't wait for October to get a taste of Oreo on Pixel 2 XL... Until then got to wait 😁
  • 👍 Exactly what I was thinking...
  • Great article!
    I have a Google Pixel XL as well with a LG Watch Sport. Not having any Bluetooth issues at all. I have a Pioneer head unit in my vehicle with Bluetooth and several different Bluetooth speakers and headphones. All seem to work fine.
    I am curious about your battery life. Can you give an example of your percentage left at the end of an average day?
  • Lol Twitter was exactly what I thought of when notification channels were announced. I got so sick of spammy notifications (like the ones you described) that I've actually blocked all of them.but now I don't get to see anything. I'm really excited to get this update in the future!
  • Really really digging it. So far not battery life has been fantastic, I did recently reset after coming off DP4 though. Somehow my Pixel XL feels even smoother which is pretty impressive frankly. So far I haven't had any major bugs. I did have a persistent notification telling me that Gmail was running in the background which was hella annoying but it went away after a night. I also had to re-add my work exchange account but after that it has worked pretty flawlessly. Personally I'm glad Android is to the point where huge revisions aren't necessary.
  • Sounds great Jerry. Thanks for the article. Only thing I have to say is the consistency of complaints about battery life with new Android upgrades and pretty much across the board with Android devices. I'm a fan, but I never have that issue with iPhones. Ever. I think Android has become more refined, but when it's optimized to the level of iOS, then we will really have something to talk about.
  • Be nice if they roll it out to all phones direct verses going thru the carriers or just make it to just blend with what ever OS you have.
    .03 % of phones will have it in 24 months and then the P OS will be out Who the F cares because nobody except the google phones will get it FU google
  • If you think this is possible you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how Android works, the iPhone might be more your thing, or a Google phone.
  • But that is how it should work. Your PC gets Microsoft updates, no matter who made it.
  • Apples to oranges. OEMs build laptops to the Windows OS without tweaking things (they might add in their own applications but that's a lesser issue). If every manufacturer was making Android One phones, then sure, it would make sense to do it that way. Also, not for nothing, those windows updates can still break things. In part because they can't possibly to test to all the devices. Can't risk that with phones. Do you think people using their phones want to worry about waiting for new drivers because an update screwed up their audio or something like that?
  • You do realise there aren't that many different cellular chipsets. And if the chip set makers handled delivering drivers to Google who then incorporated it into the OEM kit, they could in fact test them fairly reliably. Here's the problem, you're looking for reasons it can't be done - and it's easy to do that. Really, lazy thinking. It takes a little more effort to try to envision a system where this isn't a problem.. and the odd thing is, it's not even that hard to do that. For example, Google could make a standard OEM porting kit that helps OEMs write their skins and drives to ensure maximum compatibility and isolation. Could they force OEMs to use it? No - but they're also the company that adds new features. Carrot. Stick. Lateral thinking. It's a good thing. Oh... as for Windows.. look up Windows 10 IoT or Windows Embedded... Windows runs on a LOT of different hardware. It's a lot less apples to oranges than you think.
  • Lol... dude, shut up.
  • I don't get why you're mad at Google. They aren't the ones who modified Android or decided to release a slew of phones and then say there's too many to update all of them. That's on the OEMs. There's nothing stopping them from going the Moto or HTC route. Their phones have exclusive custom features, but they have separated them from the core OS, meaning the main OS and it's features can be updates independently of each other. If Samsung or LG we're to disengage their enhancements and make them separate apps from the core OS, that would mean that OS version updates and security patches could go through instantly. It would also mean that if one of their enhancement apps had an issue, it could he fixed when the solution is found, and not held up waiting for a new OS version update. It would also most likely speed up the performance of the OS as well. Google has no say in what these OEMs do outside of the licensing agreement, and if they were to try and force them to do better, they'd have a bunch of government entities jumping down their throat screaming antitrust and Monopoly. So apparently the only way to change these OEMs practices are to vote with your wallet. And when you leave make it clear why you're doing so. Otherwise they'll keep doing what they're doing.
  • Uh. yes, it is entirely reasonable to be angry at Google. Look, Windows runs on a bazillion different devices with just the most insane range of third party peripherals and hardware and guess what, every update works on most of them. I have ten year old PCs that run the most current version of Windows 10. Why? Because Microsoft made sure things like drivers and front ends were isolated from the kernel and with two exceptions in 25 years, left the driver interfaces alone so old drivers would work with current OSes. It's called PLANNING. It's called GOOD OS DESIGN. Google, on the other hand, runs very much a 'throw something at the wall and see what sticks' kind of approach. The fact that Samsung or LG slaps a different launcher on their system shouldn't be an issue. You CAN change launchers. Where things go off the rails is that the other components aren't equally skinnable. Then you get driver architecture changes that don't preserve backwards compatibility. Worse, Google now sees themselves as a distinct OEM with their Pixel line, so they have their OWN launcher that gets special features (like Google Assistant) before everyone else. By now, there should be an official skinning kit made by Google that any OEM can use to skin Android and keep it compatible with the core system. Then when an upgrade like this happens, it won't break anything and their skins will keep on working. Google can do this without anyone coming down on them. Carrot, not stick. To show you how messed up this is, I have a Samsung Tab S2 (2016). I'm running Google Now Launcher as my launcher. Not Pixel Launcher of course, because that's Google's OEM skinned launcher. I'm running Nougat on it. I don't get Google Assistant. Worse, this is the European LTE model, which include a full phone chipset.. which means it can make calls. Only I can't install the default Google phone app - even though it's on the Play Store. But what's even more bizarre.. I can't install the Contacts app! WHY? This kind of hit and miss randomness is a chronic irritation with Android.
  • How can Google update an operating system that isn't theirs? Seriously. Google has zero to do with other than posting source code that it can freely use. If that company chooses to try to be certified for the Play Store it has to meet certain standards. Every time someone says "WINDOWS" they are going in the wrong direction. Say Debian instead. Nobody blames Debian when Canonical screws up. Or Mint has yet another security breach. Yet those two companies are using Debian's source code.
  • Why not make timely updates part of the play store standard?
  • I'll be interested to see if custom ROM developers like Lineage will continue to support older devices like mine with Android 8. Lineage 14.1 has been such a great update on my Nexus 4's, and to a slightly lesser extent, my 2014 Moto X. I'm looking at getting the Moto X4 later this year, but I think it's pretty cool that two, soon to be five year old phones, are running newer software, with up to date security patches.
  • Probably. Eventually though, it will get to the point where the chipset can't keep up because it doesn't have access to the right graphics APIs and porting only goes so far.
  • I was running stock (non beta) on my Pixel XL until the final release came out, then turned on beta to get it. So far, only one issue. I first tried PIP with YouTube and the phone reset itself. Since then, no issues. Battery life has been the same as on nougat. I like the new notifications. I miss the blobs, though. I wish I could hide the "this process of running in the background..." notifications.
  • This worked for me. https://www.xda-developers.com/hide-app-running-background-notification-...
  • I just wish I had the money to fix my pixels screen. It conked out on the seventeenth and I've been yearning for some oreo ever since.
  • Jerry... I love all of your contributions.. don't always agree but always respect. Really benign article to write fan mail.for.. but hey long time reader, first time caller.. Keep rocking mate.. you are a hero in Australia! Peace out
  • Yet another incremental update which brings a questionable value. Didn't notice anything about a feature that mimics iOS' "Night Shift". We still don't get a black or at least a dark gray theme, which means it will still be annoying using my phone at night. Nothing about a fully-fledged backup and restore feature either. Icon dots that do not even show how many pending notifications the app has. Colorful notifications, but for some apps only. Vomit gray shade of the quick settings panel is now replaced by light gray which looks even worse. Oh, but there is picture-in-picture yay.
  • Color space shifting has been possible for 4 versions. There is a complete theme engine built into Android. We even wrote about it several times. Google doesn't use it on the Pixel for the same reasons Apple doesn't have one — they want it to look a certain way. Complete app backup and restore has been available since 4.4. Google uses it for their apps. Plenty of other apps use it, too. Factory resetting and having both my bank apps pull their data back from the cloud was great. Sounds like you don't like the Pixel Launcher. Good thing there are over 100 different others to choose from, that have numbers in badges, all manner of colors and you can do whatever you like with the quick settings panel. You're confusing the Pixel with Android Oreo. That's no different that saying Nougat looks like wood-grained ass with illegible fonts just because the GS 7 can look that way. Very little about the way things look is part of Android. Those options are up to the company who made the phone software
  • Something I learned from also having a Lumia 950XL is that whenever you update to the final release of an OS update is to do a factory reset without restoring from a backup, this worked for me on my Nexus 5X and fixed a lot of the software and performance issues. I haven't tested Bluetooth yet but the above should fix those assuming it's a software issue.
  • You are so right... Factory reset after any major update. Guess we learned that on our WPs.
  • This. Can't stress a factory reset enough and with Google backing everything up to the cloud it's the easiest thing to do. You'll be much happier with your shiny new OS.
  • My question is when will Oreo be pushed out to users who didn't have any betas and don't want to do it now? I got a Pixel XL because I wanted to see what all the hype was about, including all the updates as soon as they are available, but maybe I should temper my expectations? Even the monthly security patches seem to be delayed by several days. I'm still on 7.1.2 and wondering when I'll get Oreo pushed from either Google or Verizon, without having to jump through hoops to get it. (Although seeing all the bluetooth issues that are being reported, I'm not so sure I want it. I was hoping Oreo would fix the bluetooth issues I'm already having - like it taking forever to connect to my car's bluetooth. Put me in the camp of those that would rather have an OS that just works than have the latest and greatest that has fundamental issues.)
  • I've been on the beta in my Nexus 6p and updated to the final release on Tuesday. For me notifications have been screwed up for the last week releases. I get multiple notifications for a single WhatsApp or SMS message, notifications that don't clear on reading the message and the Google app alerts me about traffic conditions every few minutes every time I leave the house. Yesterday it actually alerted me that it would take 30 minutes to get home when I was actually already at home. My battery life isn't great and this week it actually went from 100 to 18% in 3 hours one day. The only good thing about Oreo is the much faster boot time
  • Hi, I'm new to android phone's and was wondering if oreo Will be available on a Samsung s8+?
  • That's down to Samsung and how long it takes them to customise it. AFAIK Android O has some changes that will make that process significantly shorter though.
  • Jerry, I'm not getting the option to change icon shapes in settings. I have today off and it wouldn't be the end of the world if I had to factory reset my phone, but would rather not if that option isn't going to be there after the reset. I have a pixel XL btw This is not to sound snotty, but to anyone trying to tell me where it is... I know where it is and I don't have it :). I've tried everything except a factory reset and there is no option to change icon shapes, which I think would be cool. Other than that... This may be my favorite update yet. The pull down notification setup is worth it alone. So good and so much more functional and easy to see what's doing.
  • I haven't found that option either but then I find the new layout for settings is terrible and find I need to use search a lot more. This is after a factory reset as well.
  • You're not alone. It seems to be in some sort of test group because at least 50% of the people i am hearing from do not have it. I don't, either.
  • You have to have developer option turned on and then press and hold the display until settings comes up. It should be there.
  • Interface setting ui android O like flyme 6 meizu 😑
  • "A week with Android Oreo: You want this" But most of you will never see it. Heck, most of you probably won't see Nougat. Welcome to Android-land.
  • That's why I'm going with the new Pixel 2 XL...