Nine months after releasing the first version of Android 7.0 Nougat, Google has wrapped up the beta program for that mobile operating system in anticipation of the arrival of Android O.
An alpha version of Google O -- full name yet to be determined -- came out in March. The final, general-public release for the operating system is expected sometime in the third quarter of this year.
With the Android Nougat Beta Program coming to a close, developers who have been running that OS will either see their devices updated to the current public version or they can manually download the latest version, which is 7.1.2. More details about Android O are likely to come out during the Google I/O conference, set for May 17-19 in Mountain View, Calif.
'Deep Dive' into Android O at I/O
Google unveiled its first developer preview of Android O on March 21. While the alpha version still required "plenty of stabilization and performance work," the new mobile OS will introduce a number of new features, including notification channels, improved connectivity options and new APIs for autofill, according to vice president of engineering Dave Burke.
"Building on the work we began in Nougat, Android O puts a big priority on improving a user's battery life and the device's interactive performance," Burke wrote in a blog post about the alpha release of Android O. "To make this possible, we've put additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates."
Another new feature, notification channels, gives developers more control over how users see different types of notifications for their apps. The Android O developer preview can currently be tested on Google-specific devices such as the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL and Pixel C. "We'll be doing a deep dive on all things Android at Google I/O," Burke noted.
Security Changes Target Phishing Attempts
In other developments, Google on Friday provided details about its latest security actions aimed at protecting users from phishing attacks. That update followed a wide-reaching scam that saw many Gmail users receive bogus invitations to share a Google Doc with people they knew.
Users who clicked an authentication link provided via those emails that appeared to come from Google, actually provided an unverified third-party app access to their email accounts and contacts.
"We took quick action to revoke all access granted to the attacker as well as steps to reduce and prevent harm from future variants of this type of attack," Google's director of counter abuse technology Mark Risher wrote in a blog post Friday. Among the steps Google took were "updating our policies and enforcement on OAuth applications, updating our anti-spam systems to help prevent campaigns like this one, and augmenting monitoring of suspicious third-party apps that request information from our users," he said.
Yet another type of attack on some users of Android mobile applications was revealed recently when researchers from Germany's Technische Universitat Braunschweig published a paper titled, "Privacy Threats through Ultrasonic Side Channels on Mobile Devices." The research shows how some apps can listen for ultrasonic beacons without users' knowledge that enables those users to be tracked for targeted ads.