Android O Feature Focus : Redesigned Settings

The first developer preview of Android O introduced us to some of the changes Google has been working on for the new version of Android. However, apart from a few little changes here and there, there aren’t a lot differences here when compared to Android Nougat visually. Just like Android Marshmallow and Nougat weren’t all that different in terms of visual changes compared to their predecessor. The most visual change in Android O happens in the Settings app which is now quite white.

Yes, if you were one of those people who prefered the holo design over material design because material design was too white for you, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Android O’s settings are all white including the top search bar. The icons in the settings app are now black instead of the blue on Pixel and the teal color on other stock Android devices. There are still some blue icons here and there but that’s probably only because Android O is still in very early stages of development.

Not only the color scheme but the Settings menu also has seen a reshuffle with most menu options condensed into categories rather than being laid out in front for you to scroll through. For instance, Data usage, Wi-Fi, and hotspot, are now all under the “Network & Internet” tab and Bluetooth, NFC, Cast, and Printing are all condensed into a single category called “Connected devices” instead of these settings taking up almost 50% of screen when you first open settings.

While it is a more refined look, it does require some digging around to find where the setting you’re looking for is. Especially for settings that could fall under two categories like YouTube’s Picture in Picture setting. It’s a good thing the search option is still there. The side drawer menu though wasn’t that lucky. I don’t know whether any of you even noticed but in the Android Nougat Settings there’s a side drawer like any other app has. It was useful in making a quick jump from say the sound setting straight to the display setting instead of having to go back to the main settings page again. This is no more possible on Android O.

Some other UI changes include a big battery icon instead of a line graph in the battery settings. Battery related settings like Adaptive Brightness and Sleep have also been moved here. Previously these were found under Display. Ambient display no longer shows the date below the time, only the app icons that have active notifications. The storage section and the app info page have a new look as well. A lot of other settings that were out front before, such as languages and input, date and time, updates, about phone and backup and rest options have been moved into a new System category.

Almost all the things you know from Android nougat are here but you will just need to find your way around. Like, the Memory section has been moved under the hidden Developer options. So it’s there but you wouldn’t find it unless you enable developer options.

There’s also one big change regarding apps from unknown sources. On previous versions of Android, ticking an Unknown Sources box in the Security settings meant anyone could install an APK not from the Playstore. This had a potential loop-hole wherein once ticked, any malicious app could install an apk in the background with out the user even noticing. On Android O you need to this grant permission to each app instead, using which you’re downloading the APK. For example, if you download an APK from APK mirror using Chrome, then you have to allow Chrome as a trusted source for APK packages. No other APK downloaded by any other app can be installed unless you specifically grant such permission to that app.

The System UI tuner in Android O, activated by long pressing the settings icon in the notification shade, also has some new customization features. Previously it only allowed customizing status bar icons but with Android O, users can now change the lockscreen shortcuts as well. By default, the left shortcut is for Google Assistant while the right is for the camera. Android O also brings navigation bar customization finally.You can add new buttons, or align the buttons towards the right or left. This was something we saw in Android Nougat developer previews but it didn’t make the final cut back then.

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