Google’s Android O Beta Program is now live

Android Emulator on Windows Store

You can now test out a new version of the operating system with some fun features.

Google announced the first beta version of Android O is now available to download.

The first Developer Preview build was made available in mid-March, and Google confirmed at the time that the second one would arrive in mid-May, so today is right on time. It’s worth noting, however, that at the time of this writing, Developer Preview 2 isn’t available just yet either.

Once it is, you’ll be able to find it here.

The Beta Program is available for all supported devices, which include the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, and Pixel XL. Just in case you didn’t realize, the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 lost support with Android 7.1.2 Nougat, so obviously those won’t get Android O either.

Among the new features you’ll see in O are:

  • A picture-in-picture mode that lets you view videos from YouTube and other compatible apps in a tiny window that floats over the home screen or other apps. You activate the feature by tapping on the home button while watching a video.
  • “Notification dots,” which are tiny circles placed on app icons that inform you when those apps have new notifications. Instead of pulling down the notification shade to view a particular alert, you can now view it by pressing and holding on the icon of an app that has a notification dot.
  • “Autofill with Google,” which moves autofill info from Chrome into certain Android apps. Google gave the example of having your Twitter login info automatically entered right from the app.
  • Smarter text highlighting, which will allow you to select an entire name, phone number or address all at once by just double tapping on it. Depending on what you tap, you’ll then be able to do things such as adding a phone number to your contacts or viewing a location in Google Maps.
  • Google Play Protect, a security feature that the company says will automatically check your apps for vulnerabilities.
  • A cleaner settings app that groups similar options together. Settings for WiFi, hot spots and mobile data, for example, are now collected together in a “Network & Internet” tab.
  • More granular control over notifications, including the ability to “snooze” notifications for later.
  • Promised improvements to battery life, Bluetooth, and general performance. Google says O will have stricter controls over what apps can do in the background to save memory and battery life.
  • Project Treble ,” which will allow device makers like Samsung or LG to issue their Android updates without having to wait for chipset makers such as Qualcomm to certify their chips work with the latest versions of the software. Google has famously struggled to get people to actually update their phones to new versions of Android.

There are plenty other things , but the gist of the update is that it’s focused more on addressing annoyances than on offering flashy new features.

Note that you’ll need a Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5P, or Nexus 6P smartphone to install the O beta. As you should before installing any beta software, be aware of the potential downsides. The O beta likely has its share of bugs. And you should backup your phone before installing it, otherwise, you risk losing all your data.

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