Google is finally in a position to luxuriate and refine its already excellent stock Android experience. Oreo on Pixel is the best ever version of Android.
Nevermind the name rumours, here’s the final product. It was always going to be called Oreo, wasn’t it? Android 8 is now available for Google’s own devices following a surprisingly stable beta period.
We’ve been using it on Pixel and Nexus devices here at Tech Advisor, and it’s a pleasingly refined update to Nougat. Google’s attention to detail is improving, and Oreo represents an Android user’s dream of granular customisation mixed with genuinely useful and thoughtful tweaks to the user interface.
It’s an operating system that is reaching maturity following the larger aesthetic changes brought about by Marshmallow and Nougat. There aren’t any big new headline features to show off here, but Google is wise to resist.
All to worry about now is how skin-heavy manufacturers like Samsung will bring Oreo to their smartphones.Android Oreo is available to download now, for free, for Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Pixel C tablet. The discontinued Nexus Player also gets it, weirdly.
Android Oreo is an update lacking in a headline feature. Nougat was good enough on the Pixel and subsequent iterations from OEMs that Google is in the enviable position of being able to make some core, sometimes unnoticed but important flourishes to its OS.
I’ve been running the public betas of Oreo on a 5in Pixel and now having used the full public release can say it’s the best to date – but you knew that already, didn’t you?
iOS and Android by and large at are their best at their most recent. There hasn’t been a Windows Vista situation for either yet, and given the yearly, iterative upgrade patterns of both, it’s reassuringly unlikely to happen any time soon.
Of course you’ll get the cleanest possible Oreo with a Pixel, and while I like the minimalist look, many prefer the slick twenty-first century skin of Samsung. But Google has indulged the fashion for white’n’clean and it’s a smart move.
The dark greys in the menus of Nougat are gone in favour of white with blue accents. This gives a fresher feel to the OS, and the newly uncluttered Settings app, while slightly trickier to navigate with fewer main options, is now less of a minefield with more options grouped into fewer initial categories.
Even if you tap into a setting category, there is still further to tap sometimes with a little drop down menu for more advanced options. It makes sense, but coming from Nougat will take a little getting used to.
This is surprisingly useful, particularly to set reminders for specific emails and IMs and is a good addition to general Android housekeeping.
The notification shade is off-white now instead of grey, and pulling it fully down gives you quick launch icons on the bottom to switch Google account user, Settings, or to edit the order of the command icons.
Persistent notifications are now smaller and subtler and sit at the foot of the list, while an excellent little animation lets the notification icons pop into their relevant panels when expanded, or flow into the lower bar when out of view so you can glance at the icons that usually sit in the status bar down at the bottom of the shade. It’s a thoughtful and some might say unnecessary addition, but I loved it and it makes total sense.