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How to get Android Oreo features on older phones

We all know that most of us aren’t getting Android Oreo for a while. But that cannot stop us from getting our hands on some its best features

Android Oreo is officially out now and will be rolling out to Pixel and certain Nexus devices soon. As is the case of Android due to the fragmented ecosystem, most of us cannot expect to get our devices on the latest version, 8.0 anytime soon. Quick fact check – the previous version, Android Nougat, has only managed to make it to 13% of Android devices as of August 2017. So, if you are hung up on getting the latest version for your Android phone, you might be in for some disappointment. On the other hand, if all you care about are the specific features, and not the OS version itself, there are a bunch of handy tricks that can make that happen on your phone that is still on Marshmallow, Lollipop or in some cases, even KitKat

Get Lawnchair launcher

Developed by senior XDA member deletescape, Lawnchair launcher is a Pixel launcher that’ll get you most of the features that Android O packs. You do not need root access for this one. Get the latest release of the APK here and install it on your phone to get the launcher. With this launcher installed, long press on any empty space on the home screen and tap Settings. On the screen that opens, here’s how you can quickly enable a few Android Oreo features on your phone.

  • Notification Badges: Go to UI>Notification Badges and Preview and allow Notification Access to the launcher.
  • Adaptive Icons: Go to Pixel Style>Use Pixel Icons and enable it.
Lawnchair gives you an experience that is very close to what you'd get on a Google Pixel
Lawnchair gives you an experience that is very close to what you’d get on a Google Pixel

And there are quite a few other toggles that can make your phone more Pixel-like if you hadn’t done that already. The launcher itself is a good choice for tweaks in general, and even if it gives you some trouble now and then, a quick restart should fix it.

Get fingerprint sensor gestures

Android Oreo brings with it support for gestures on your fingerprint sensors. Actions like single tap, double tap and swipe will allow you to perform certain tasks on the Android Oreo smartphones. But if you want the same features on your phone, then you can install Fingerprint Gestures or Fingerprint Quick Action. You have access to a wide variety of actions to be assigned to the gestures mentioned earlier. If your phone is rooted, the list of potential actions is even bigger.

Some of these features are only available on rooted devices
Some of these features are only available on rooted devices

Tweak your notifications

Android Oreo has a lot of helpful notification oriented features. For instance, you can snooze notifications for later. This helps you avoid notification clutter without missing out on important notifications. Use Notif Log notification history app to get the same snooze functionality and more, albeit in a different app altogether. The app allows you to enable a floatie that swaps your Android notification bar with its own notification panel. On that panel, you can swipe notifications left to snooze them for 10,20 mins or for a certain specified time. You can also manage other features like pinned notification and more.

Notif Log
You get to snooze notifications and more

Make your WiFi smarter

Another interesting feature from Android Oreo is the Wi-Fi Assistant that automatically connects you to open Wifi networks around you and secures the same with a VPN from Google. While getting exactly this feature may not be possible right now, you can get similar efficiency with all known wifi hotspots with Smart Wifi Toggler. The app can remember all your hotspots and toggle Wifi when moving within and beyond the range of a known wifi hotspot. Not exactly the same, but we’ll have to do with this for now.

Smart Wifi
Some of the options available

Use picture in picture

With Android Oreo, Google is bringing the picture-in-picture video support to smartphones. While this was already there on Nougat for Android TV, smartphones with Android Oreo will get this feature on apps that offer it. As of now, apps like Google Duo, YouTube and Whatsapp offer this. To get this for YouTube videos, install Float Tube Video Player and select the pop icon on any YouTube video to get a floating window that lets you run other apps in the background. The app also lets you play local videos over other apps.

You can play videos from your phone
You can play videos from your phone

Get an ambient lock screen

While any phone running Android Marshmallow and upwards does support Ambient Display, you need to enable it explicitly. To do that, go to Settings>Display>Ambient display and toggle it. Now, with Android Oreo, you basically get the same notifications in the ambient display, along with the colors and more interactive options. While it may not be possible right now to get the exact same display on other phones, you can go for AcDisplay and get an alternative ambient display screen that allows you to toggle a ton of settings. And while most supported apps are shown in grayscale, certain icons do show up as colored.

AcDisplay lets you set a custom background for your ambient display as well

Customise lock screen shortcuts

On Android, you must have noticed lock screen shortcuts that let you directly go to the phone or the camera. These shortcuts could not be changed so far, but with Android O you can customise these shortcuts to include up to 5 apps that you directly want to open from the lock screen. You can get this feature on other Android versions by using the Next Lock Screen app. Once the app is installed you need to grant it the needed permissions, after which the app will take you to its lock screen. There, swipe up to see the Pick Your Shortcuts option where you can choose up to five apps that you can open directly from the lock screen. Don’t forget to disable your own lock screen from Settings.

Next lock screen
You can add up to five shortcuts on the lock screen

While these are some of the features that you can get on non-Oreo phones, there are tons of Oreo features that are not on this list. Which Oreo feature would you want on your older smartphone? Let us know in the comments below.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.