Android O Preview 3

Less than a month after Google I/O and the release of the second Android O preview, Google have pushed another update for Pixel and Nexus devices. As usual there are plenty of large and small changes to pour over!

Statusbar Icons

Preview 2 reversed the position of the data and WiFi toggles, much to users dismay. Thankfully Google heard our cries and in preview 3 the proper order is restored. Preview 2 also had a bug where an empty WiFi icon would stay in the status bar wasting space when WiFi was switched off. The new update has thankfully fixed this issue as well.Screenshot_20170609-211825[1]

Rich Media Notifications

Google just can’t leave Android notifications alone, with every new version seemingly bringing a new overhaul. Most of the big changes were already seen in previous builds, but the final addition that was announced at I/O is finally working and in the wild.

Media notifications now match the album artwork of whatever you’re listening to. This applies to both the notification background and the text and buttons. For something that’s so new and only in beta, it works really well. The foremost colour in the artwork, the background image for example, will be picked for the notification background and the buttons will choose a secondary colour. The best part is that apps don’t need to be coded to support this, it’s all done by the system.

Final APIs

Somewhat earlier than usual, the various new APIs in Android O are now final. That’s something that generally happens later in the year with the final preview. These APIs allow developers to integrate new features into their apps. This means that adaptive icons, notification channels and Notification dots should be easier to develop for with the new SDK.

Removed features

Unfortunately this is where we find the bad news. Until now O preview let you edit the navigation bar; adding new buttons, changing the layout and so on. Now that’s been completely removed without any indication as to why.

The same can be said for the theme menu and lock screen editor. It’s worth noting that the theme menu still shows in search results but nothing happens when selected. There’s always a chance that some of these will return in subsequent previews or the final builds but I won’t be holding my breath. Google have a habit of teasing new features in beta and then taking them away. Remember the dark theme in Marshmallow?

I do have another theory about this though. Night Light and a few other features from the Nougat beta program were removed from the final release and reintroduced as Pixel exclusives. Perhaps things like the theme engine will share the same fate this time around. After all, the theme menu only appeared on the Pixel and Pixel XL, not the Pixel C or Nexus devices. If it does make a return as a Pixel only feature, I wouldn’t want to be the guy who announces it. I have a fear of flying weaponized tomatoes.

That’s all that’s new with the latest preview. If you have any questions about the preview or anything new you’ve found, feel free to contact me via the comments or social media!

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