Android O was announced not long ago and it’ll be here before we know it. They already got a developer preview and is scheduled for late August or early September. We’re ready and have a lot of neat ideas to expand certain features and create a few new ones. We won’t jump the gun on our plans for features just yet because until we get a change to evaluate the source, is just hot air. Google is Google and what that means these days is that Google might throw a curve ball at us and plans might change.
Our first impression of Android O has been positive. Very little things annoy us with Android O. Our developers like it and think we can do wonderful things with it. We’re excited.
BUT hold on!! Android N is no chopped liver. Android N has been great to us and has enabled us to learn a lot and in turn we’ve been able to create and include a lot of different modifications to our project. We also didn’t bring in a whole lot from Marshmallow so things even out. Some of our users would of wanted us to do so but we didn’t and life goes on. We did so because we felt like it was necessary, let us explain.
While newcomers to the Android scene may think that the point of our project or any Android based project for that matter is to add in as many features as possible, we disagree. That’s not to say we haven’t put on that hat before. We probably had the most modifications in a custom ROM in kitkat. It was fun, not going to lie but it also came at the expense of stability.
We want stability, great battery life similar to the stock ROM (what you see on Nexus/Pixel devices) and useful additions that we the developers and users of the project would use on a daily basics. I think in Marshmallow we had a perfect blend of all 3. In Android N we continued that perfect blend and maybe a bit naive to think but we feel like we can reproduce that in Android O as well. So to our critics, we’re doing it because we want a better experience than what Google or any OEM provide not compete in a ‘who can add as many mods in a ROM before it blows up’ race.
Moving on, I recently put out a call to all our users to show us their screenshots. We wanted to see what users were using on their devices as far as features and how they configured things within the ROM. We focused on things like the navbar, quick settings and even the actual settings layout. What we learned from our #MyDirtyUnicorns experiment over at Google plus is that while a lot of users love the eye candy features when introduced, they don’t actually use them in their daily setups. I know is disappointing but is true.
For example in Marshmallow we had a feature called ‘Gestures anywhere’ that was originally created by Clark Scheff in kitkat and a lot of users found it to be awesome. They requested it and we delivered. The feature works by going into the feature menu, adding in all your gestures and mapping them to an application or action and from there on you could perform the gesture on any screen and your app would launch or whatever action you picked previously would take off. When it was showcased it was a mad house! Users went crazy over it! They loved that it was something they’ve never seen before but when it came down to it, they didn’t use it.
Not once did anyone showcase it in their screenshots or talked about it on any threads or even our G+ community. I recall seeing a bug with it on the Nexus 7 (flo) and asking Josh if anyone had reported this bug and he replied that he didn’t see any reports. That tells you how much the feature was being used. I still asked around to close friends and people from around the community and they didn’t use it either. Some said it was neat but too much of a gimmick for them to use. This mod alone was close to 1000 lines after it was set and done with fixes and this and that. To us it was a waste of time to bring that over to Android N because it could of potentially caused issues merging in security updates and even major updates. There were many mods like this in Marshmallow and even more in Android N that will not be ported over to Android O.
We don’t want to collect features. We’re not in that race. We want to expand on Android in an effort to create the perfect OS (in our opinion) for us. I think every project should have this goal but as they say, different strokes for different folks. So in Android O expect for us to change things up. We’ll most likely remove some current modifications but that is not to say that new ones won’t be created or ported over. Right now only thing that is certain is that a few modifications will not be catching the bus to Android O-ville.
What mods? We’re still evaluating and having discussions about what the final list will look like. We’ll keep folks posted over in our G+ community.
On the other side of Android N we learned a lot! We’re moving up the ladder, gaining more experience and learning from our mistakes. The last part is the most important one for us because we’re going to make mistakes. We’re not perfect but we do need to learn from our mistakes. If you don’t learn from your mistakes then you’re doomed to repeat them. That saying doesn’t just make for a nice office poster but is true. Our team continues to learn, evolve, share knowledge with one another and we’re excited for what the future brings.
One of the highlights of Android N has been (at least for me) when the folks over at 221 Pixels redesigned our app icons. They gave them a fresh professional look and it created consistently across the project. It made everything around it just that much better. The icons actually look like they belong. They’re not too flashy but not too dull and that’s exactly what we wanted. We’re an extension of Android not a replacement. We love the stock look and feel.
Going forward with the professional look, we want our boot animation and default wallpaper to correspond to the icons above. We also want to get the community involved so we’re going to set this off in the form of a contest.
Contest details for what we’re looking for, prizes and all are not set in stone. Stay tuned for that as they’ll be made in a another post.
In Android N we made a lot of moves. One of those was with Substratum. We ventured off in the unknown of Substratum and it worked out great for us. A widely criticized move to leave the CMTE for Substratum, turned out to be the best thing for us in both usability and perfect alignment with our goals. We wanted to decrease our work load when it came to mergers and with Substratum we can do just that. Substratum requires very little commits on the ROM side and does the same job (and more) that the CMTE was doing for us in Marshmallow.
OMS introduced by Sony has a strong possibility of being merged into AOSP and if that’s true then there’s no denying that this was the best move and that is here to stay. Expect Substratum to be our theme option in Android O.
In Android N we saw some new devices get added and some old ones dropped. Expect this to be true in Android O. As devices get older, our maintainers lose motivation to keep them due to performance issues and the fact that they want new toys to play with. No list has been generated as of now but a list will come. Stay tuned to our G+ community for more information on that as it gets closer and closer to shut the book on Android N.
Our way of doing things (AOSP branch and CAF branch) will not change. This is something that has continued to work great for us and we’re strong believers in not fixing what’s not broken!
We want to thank all our contributors (past and present) and themers for everything! We wouldn’t be where we’re at without you guys. We know a lot of critics make silly jokes about themers but Android wouldn’t be what it is today without these fine folks! They’re a large part of the DU community and we appreciate them!
We want to also thank all our supporters for everything they do in our community. Answering questions, encouraging other members and spreading the news about our project! Right now we’re under 30K active members in our community and that’s all been word of mouth, so thank you! You guys have been awesome and is really encouraging to see!
Again, stay tuned for a contest announcement with details and all!