3 awesome features Apple should steal from Android O

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Android O makes its public debut this fall.
Android O makes its public debut this fall.
Photo: Google

Google announced its new Android O update last week, and it includes a whole bunch of big improvements, like support for streaming high-quality audio over Bluetooth, the ability to use a wide color gamut in third-party apps, and lots more.

Here are the features that we think Apple should steal for iPhone and iPad.

As Apple keeps reminding us, iOS is “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” and it already boasts many of the features and improvements Google is introducing with Android O. In many ways, Android O is actually playing catch-up.

For instance, iOS already supports high-quality audio streaming over Bluetooth, app icon badges, and the ability to send content directly to other devices over Wi-Fi with AirDrop.

iOS also has strict rules about what apps can do in the background to avoid battery life draining, which is one of the big changes Google is implementing. In fact, Apple’s battery saving measurements are unmatched by its rivals.

“I think they’re already doing most of the things I could imagine they can do to improve battery life,” explains iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith. “For example in the A10 Fusion chips in iPhone 7, there is a pair of low-power cores that background tasks can be offloaded to.”

But there are a few things in Android O that iOS doesn’t yet have — and it should.

Picture in Picture for phones

Apple has given us Picture in Picture on iPad, but I want to see it on iPhone, too. Google is bringing the feature to smartphones with Android O, and while it might seem pointless at first, there are plenty of reasons why it’s not.

With Picture in Picture, you can continue watching a video in a small window while you use other apps on your phone. It’s not really meant for watching movies while you browse the web, but it is ideal when you’re watching something you don’t want to miss.

For instance, let’s say you’re enjoying a game of football, and it’s getting intense. You don’t want to take your eyes off the action, but you just got an important text message you need to reply to, or your son is stranded with no money and you need to send some.

Right now, jumping into another app takes you away from the game. With Picture in Picture, you can keep one eye on the action while you send that text or transfer that money, and you don’t have to worry about missing a game-changing play.

Picture in Picture is also useful for things like learning. You can watch a lecture in a window while you type up notes in Evernote, and you don’t have to keep switching back and forth — or resort to pen and paper. Ugh!

Notification snoozing

Sometimes you get an important notification that you can’t deal with right away, but you know you’ll have to later. If you dismiss it, there’s a good chance you’re going to forget it. But not with notification snoozing in Android O.

Snoozing let’s you postpone a notification and have it come back when you know you’ll have time to deal with it. It’s as easy as swiping the alert, tapping the snooze button, then choosing between the 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour options (these could change later).

This ensures you can’t forget about that important notification even if you can’t deal with it as soon as it comes in. It’s a feature we should definitely have in iOS.

Notification channels

Another improvement Google has made to notifications is the ability to categorize them into channels. This keeps the notification panel in check and ensures a user’s most important alerts aren’t drowned out by annoying ads from their favorite games.

It’s up to developers to decide which channel their notifications fall into, and they can choose different channels for different types of alerts. For instance, a messaging app might put alerts from one-to-one conversations in one channel, and alerts from group conversations in another.

This would make it easy for users to ignore notifications from active group conversations when they’re busy, without missing more important messages from just one contact.

Although it’s up to developers to decide how their app works with notifications channels, users have the ability to customize how those channels act. So you get make messaging apps and breaking news a priority, while other things stay out of the way.

Notifications are still very messy on iOS. Everything appears in a single list sorted by time, and there’s no way to filter out certain things without completely blocking alerts from certain apps. It’s very easy to miss an important notification because it was drowned out by other things.

  • Demonstr8r

    I agree on the notification snoozing and some form of channel or priority so game updates and such don’t drown out truly important updates that require attention. However, I personally think picture-in-picture on the phone would be quite useless for most people.

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