Android O Update
People visit an Android stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Google has had a tradition of releasing annual Android updates — its last update Android Nougat — was released in August 2016. As 2017 commences, we get closer to the launch of the next Android update, which is likely to start with the letter O, going by Google’s tradition of naming its operating system (OS) updates alphabetically with names of desserts. While the numerical denomination of the update would be Android 8 or Android 8.0, Google’s name for the update is how it will be commonly known.

So what are the possible candidates for the name? Well, there aren’t too many desserts starting with the letter O, which sort of narrows down the choices. The most eligible candidate is Android Oreo after the chocolate-based biscuit. If Google chooses the name, it might go for a partnership with Mondelez, the makers of Oreo, the way it did with Nestlé for Android KitKat.

Other expected names include Orange, Oatcake, Ox-tongue Pastry, Oatmeal Cookie and Orellete. It is important to note that the company hasn’t given out any clues regarding the update, so we might have to wait until August to know what Google calls its new Android update.

Besides the naming, the next thing that comes to mind is the features the next Android update would have.

Here are some features that can be expected in Android 8/Android O:

VR Features

2016 was the year when virtual reality picked up pace. It saw VR headsets such as HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift. But in 2017, VR is expected to get better, have more features and advanced gaming capabilities.

With Microsoft HoloLens lending its technology to third-party VR headsets, improvements in VR technology such as combined virtual and real-life environments are expected to be featured on VR devices.

As the technology progresses, smartphones will have to step up their game and become more compatible with VR, specifically be more VR-gaming capable. This is where the next Android update will play its part. Android 8 will have to be not just VR capable, it will also have to support advanced VR capabilities.

No headphone jack support

The year 2017 could see the disappearance of the headphone jack. The trend started in 2016 with leading devices like Apple's iPhone and it is expected to gain prominence this year.

The lack of a headphone jack means that you won’t be able listen to audio and charge the device at the same time — the way you could do with previous phones that had a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack. With more devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, expected to ditch the headphone jack, the next Android update might pull the plug on 3.5mm headphone jack support.

Google Assistant's Wider Availability

Google Assistant was one of the USPs of the Pixel series devices. Google has now included the feature in its Google Home device and Android Auto. With the next Android update, the feature, currently a Pixel-exclusive, is expected to roll out to more devices in the Android ecosystem and the way to do that is an Android update. Google has already indicated that the feature will roll out to more devices. Android 8 is, therefore, expected to bring along Google Assistant to a wider array of devices.

Connected Cars Support

Automobiles are becoming smarter with more smart features, some of which rely on your smartphone. With many tech companies investing in technology such as autonomous driving, smartphones will have an increased role in transportation. With Android 8, Google is expected to venture further into smart vehicles, especially since the company’s own projects such as its self-driving cars are in the works.