have a special place in my heart for this mobile operating
system, I won’t say I am aware of every hidden Android
feature that exists. But still, people who own a device want to
explore it to the fullest. The same might go for most of the
Being an owner of a Moto device, I am apparently deprived of
the Android O update. But thanks to a friend of mine who lent
me his expensive Pixel, I got to have a hand on the latest
dessert from Google.
Android’s most recent upgrade now runs on only 1.1% of Android
devices worldwide, as per the numbers released by Google in
February 2018. Certainly, it is an improvement over Nougat with
features like Picture-in-Picture,
system-wide autofill functionality, and Notifications
improvements, and additional developments like Project Trebble.
But people always have the urge find what they prefer to call
hidden Android features. Personally, it has been hard for me to
digest the term, as most of them are a few taps away.
When you call something hidden, it should be hidden. For
instance, the Developer Options. For the sake of the queries
made by people on search engines, I had to add ‘Android Oreo
hidden features’ to the title. One satisfactory explanation can
be given is that you have to workout a little bit to
access these features, so, you can call them hidden for a while
until you get used to them.
Android O Hidden Features You Can Try
1. External sources
One of the most popular things you can call a hidden Android
feature is how Android handles the installation of the apps it
Earlier, you could enable a toggle button in the Developer
Options to allow the installation from Unkown Sources. When
this option was enabled, almost every app on the system could
install additional apps from untrusted sources, giving an
invite to malware.
With Android Oreo, things have changed. Now, you need to give
that permission to the Android app that’s downloading the
For instance, you have to allow external sources for apps
like Google Chrome or some third-party app stores. The change
has been brought to improve the overall security of the Android
You can manage the apps that have “external sources”
permissions by visiting Settings > Apps & Notifications
> Special App Access > Install Unknown Apps.
2. Change Android icons’ shape
The ability to modify the shape of apps is already a widely
known Android O feature. It’s easy to tweak the shape of your
icons, but the option isn’t directly visible in the Settings.
You can find it in the Homescreen Settings menu. Tap and hold
in a free area on the Home Screen. Tap Settings > Change
icon shape. There you can choose between square, rounded
square, squircle, and teardrop.
3. Handle Notification Dots
Notification Dots is also one of the Android O features that’s
hidden, but it exists in front of your eyes. The app icons,
either on the Home screen or the app drawer, carry a small
colored badge. Pressing and holding the icon with a badge shows
the Notifications and actions associated with that app.
One advantage of Notification Dots is you can check
notifications for a particular app, rather than searching
through the pile of information which appears in the
Notifications shade. Also, the colored dots you see can adapt
the color theme of the app icon.
4. Notification Channels
Notification Channels allows users to have a greater command
over how notifications appear on their Android devices.
Notifications can be clubbed into categories, set by the
developer, and the user can customize the categories such as
High priority, Updated apps, Account alerts, etc.
You swipe notification from left to right (or right to left )
halfway until you see a gear icon. Tap the gear icon then All
Categories to explore the category options for that app.
5. Snooze Notifications
With the increasing number of apps, the number of notifications
has also increased. After you see a notification, you simply
swipe it to clear it from the Notifications shade. But
sometimes, you want to keep a particular Notification, probably
to address it later, but this increases the clutter.
Android O allows you snooze (prevent from appearing in the
shade) for a specified amount of time. You can access this
Android oreo hidden feature just by swiping a notification from
left to right until you see options popping up. Tap the clock
icon to set the desired time after which the Notification
should re-appear. The default is 1 hour.
6. WiFi Assistant and Google VPN
The WiFi Assistant, a hidden feature in Android Oreo’s WiFi
settings is compatible with Pixel and Nexus devices running
Android 5.1 and above. But the Android Oreo comes with improved
WiFi Assistant which helps Android automatically connect to
open networks, when available, but also connects the device to
a Google-back VPN as a security measure.
To turn on WiFi Assistant, visit Settings > Network &
Internet > WiFi > WiFi Preferences. There enable the
toggle option that says “Connect to open networks.”
Now, Android will automatically connect to open WiFi networks,
and a WiFi assistant VPN key would show up in the Notification
bar. And you would see a “Connected via WiFi Assistant” status
for your connection. The feature currently works in a limited
number of countries including the US, Canada, Denmark, Faroe
Islands, Finland, Iceland, etc.
7. Background Execution limits – Optimize your battery
Android Oreo has been configured to keep an eye on the apps
that run in the background and consume resources. Currently,
only a few apps are updated to Android API level 26, which bars
Android to monitor them. For such activity, the Background
Activity is enabled by default.
You can force these apps to stop running in the
background if you’re not able to get even a day out of your
battery. Go to Settings > Battery. Under “App usage since
full charge,” look for the apps consuming more battery. Tap
them and see if the “While in background” time for such apps is
large. Turn off Background Activity for the app. This hidden
Oreo feature would allow Android to control the background
8. Autofill – let Android fill the data for you
Until now, Autofill was a thing we have mostly associated with
web browsers. But with the release of Android O, Google added
the autofill functionality across the operating system.
The new Autofill framework allows the Android system to save
and suggest autofill data after analyzing the content on your
screen. You configure Autofill by visiting Settings > System
> Languages & input > Advanced > Autofill service.
Autofill with Google is the default service you’ll find on
Android O. However, other capable apps like password managers
can also use the Autofill framework.
To manage Autofill with Google (or any other service you have
selected), you can tap the gear icon next to Autofill service.
The default Autofill with Google sources data like personal
information, addresses, saved passwords from your Google
9. Turn on WiFi automatically
Adding to the automatic capability of Android O, Google has
introduced a toggle button called “Turn on WiFi automatically.”
When this Android Oreo feature hidden in the WiFi settings is
enabled, Android ties a saved WiFi network to the GPS
coordinates. So, every time you’re near that network, the WiFi
on your device would be turned on automatically to connect to
the saved network.
The feature doesn’t work in case you have turned off the
location service, or your device is running on battery saver
10. Easy ways to clear storage on Android O
The Storage section in the Settings app has been updated to
provide a categorized view of the apps consuming space on the
device. The categories which existed in earlier Android
versions were general and didn’t deliver that level of ease.
Smart Storage is an existing feature that complements the
revamped storage section. It automatically deletes photos and
videos from your device when the storage is almost full. This
happens only to the files which have been backed up to Google
11. Get rid of Android boot loops
Android users aren’t unaware of random system crashes and
devices going in endless boot loops. Rescue Party is a
literally hidden feature included in Android Oreo that helps
the device get through such situations.
“Android 8.0 includes a feature that sends out a “rescue party”
when it notices core system components stuck in crash loops,”
“Rescue Party then escalates through a series of actions to
recover the device. As a last resort, Rescue Party reboots the
device into recovery mode and prompts the user to perform a
12. System UI Tuner
The System UI Tuner is a somewhat official answer to rooting
which is mainly done by users to make customizations to their
Arrived with the release of Marshmallow, although it can’t
match the benefits of rooting, SystemUI Tuner allows you to do
various things like removing the app icons from the status bar
for WiFi, Bluetooth, Battery, etc. However, the features would
still work as they are intended.
You can enable SystemUI Tuner by tapping and holding the gear
button (until you feel a vibration feedback) in the
Notifications shade. Do the same thing to disable the feature.
When turned on, you can access it in Settings > System.
On Android Oreo, System UI tuner received a bunch of changes.
But the thing is the options present there are experimental;
Google adds and deletes on time to time basis.
We’ll try to add more things to our Android Oreo hidden
features list in the future. Meanwhile, if you have something
to suggest, drop your thoughts in the comments.
What about Android P?
While Google hasn’t revealed much, it’s known that Android P is
internally codenamed “Pistachio Ice Cream“. Only
guesses can be made about
its official name. The mobile operating will arrive with
privacy feature to prevent evil apps from covertly recorded
audio and video clips. Also, it would support devices multiple
with multiple displays and form factors.
Android P or Android 9.0 is the next major Android that could
see its release in the coming weeks in the form of the first
developer preview. It goes without saying that Google would
stuff some secret features in P also.