Android O beta is available to download today

The latest version of Android incorporates more machine learning, faster performance and better notifications.


It wouldn't be Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference, without the birth of a new version of Android, would it? 2017 sees the arrival of Android O, an operating system that's not really about flashy, attention-grabbing features. Instead, the software is all about making the user experience much faster and easier, thanks to weirdly named concepts like Fluid Experiences and Vitals.

Covered under the umbrella of Fluid Experiences are neat tools designed to make Android a little more seamless. There's a picture-in-picture mode that lets smartphone users view videos and take notes at the same time. Notification Dots, too, is a more elegant way for people to find out what's new and check out their messages.

In addition, users will be able to find new smart-text-selection and autofill options that use contextual clues to save you the effort of typing. Plus, Android O packs a lite version of Tensorflow, which is software that enables machine learning right on your device.

Vitals, meanwhile, is all about making sure that Android is more effective under the hood, which includes faster boot and app loading times. The company admits that while it does a lot of work behind the scenes on security, that effort isn't visible to users. That's why it's launched Google Play Protect, which combines a raft of new security features that will protect your device from real-world and digital threats.

Several of the features shown off here today will be familiar to anyone who's been checking out the Android O developer preview. It's been available since March and showed how Google was planning to improve battery life by cutting off power-intensive apps and joining up its text and machine learning platforms.

In the run-up to I/O, we also learned about other features that Android O will be boasting, including a technology called Copyless Pasting. In addition, Google recently lifted the lid on Project Treble, which will apparently ease the pain of getting updates pushed out to various handsets.

Developers themselves had something to cheer about at the I/O keynote with the news that Android O now supports the Kotlin programming language. The Android O beta is available to download from today and will be available for everyone later this year.

Much like last year, Google didn't say -- during the keynote -- what the O in Android stands for, although we can probably guess. After all, what's the almost universally adored sweet treat that's great anytime and goes great with a glass of milk? Onions.

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