News: All the Best New Features Coming in the Galaxy S8 Oreo Update

All the Best New Features Coming in the Galaxy S8 Oreo Update

Samsung recently rolled out the Android Oreo Beta Program for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in North America and internationally. We showed you how to enroll your device in the beta program and posted a full list of changes you can expect with the update. Now that we've had some time to use Oreo on our Galaxy S8, we're ready to look at these new features in detail.

When Samsung upgrades their phones with a new Android version, we always expect a few surprises on top of the changes Google implemented in the base code. With the Oreo beta on the Galaxy S8, we were not disappointed. Samsung has revamped their excellent keyboard, added new edge lighting effects, and a full color-picker for folders.

1. Samsung Keyboard Gets Big Improvements

The Samsung keyboard gets some big improvements in the Oreo Beta. From a usability perspective, the keyboard has obtained four distinct high contrast modes and resizing options. The high contrast modes allow the user to recognize different parts of the keyboard more easily. Resizing makes it easier for you to type comfortably and swipe to type becomes easier and more accurate.

For social media and messaging lovers, the new version also brings native GIF support, Emoji 5.0, and an easily accessible clipboard from within the keyboard.

2. Notification Channels & Pin/Snooze Functionality

With the announcement of Android Oreo, Google detailed a new method for taking granular control of your notifications. Complex messaging and social media apps often have different types of notifications they push to you on a daily basis, and now you can change settings for each of them.

One key example is Twitter, where you may receive notifications for direct messages, mentions, quotes, new feed activity, likes, and more. Many people want to receive a notification in the panel for each of these categories, but often want to alter the type of alert they receive. This is where notification channels can help.

3. New Edge Lighting Effects

Edge lighting is a pretty simple thing, but it looks awesome in practice. With Oreo, new edge lighting options come to the S8 and S8+, including a sweet multi-color effect. You also have the option to tweak the width and transparency of your edge lighting effect to see how dramatic and obvious the notifications are.

4. App Shortcuts

Android Oreo brings support for long-press shortcuts for apps on the home screen. This feature allows up to 5 contextual shortcuts within each app, accessible by long-pressing on the app icon. Apps will need to be updated to add support for this new feature, but many already have.

For YouTube, users can jump straight to their Subscriptions page or check out what's trending. In popular social media apps, such as Twitter clients, you can launch directly into composing a new tweet, direct message, or search.

5. Hide Albums in Gallery

If you have certain photo albums you want to hide from prying eyes, you can now do so on the Galaxy S8. The stock Gallery app now features the option to hide as many albums as you like. It is worth noting that this is not a particularly secure method of hiding albums — for this, you still want to use something like Samsung's Secure Folder, which is password protected.

6. Custom Color-Picker for Folders

Within folder options on the home screen, you can now use a color-picker to access a custom color for your folder. The color-picker displays the current color and the new color you've chosen to make sure that you would like to proceed with the changes.

This feature is dependent on the theme you are currently running, and some themes do not allow all colors to be selected. For instance, when running a black theme, you may only be able to choose shades of grey or white for folder colors. While this is a simple aesthetic change, the ability to distinguish folders by color is welcome.

7. Revamped 'About Phone' Menu & Settings Search

Samsung has revamped the About Phone menu within the phone's main Settings list. When opening the menu, you now see your phone number, model number, serial number, and IMEI in a more accessible fashion.

Another small change within Settings is the search history with timestamps. When searching, you will now see a list of your previous keywords arranged by time. This can be helpful if you once found a setting that you need to access again, but forgot where exactly it was located.

8. Dual Messenger Comes Standard

The Dual Messenger capability, popular in Huawei and Xiaomi phones, is now standard on the Galaxy S8. This feature is very useful for Facebook and other social media platforms where you may have two accounts. Once the feature is enabled, you will notice a little orange icon in the bottom-right corner of the app icons, this indicates the secondary account.

Currently it appears that Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp are the most popular apps that support Dual Messenger functionality on the S8. Most users in North America will not find this feature appealing, but it should be a big hit with Samsung users abroad.

9. Lock Screen Accent Colors

Starting now, the wallpaper you set will have an impact on other areas of your phone's interface. Namely, Samsung has added an almost-imperceptible accent color to the lock screen clock and other information. When your wallpaper has a certain hue to it, that hue will be applied to the lock screen text.

Lock screen before the Oreo update (left) and after (right). Notice the slightly pink clock.

10. New Always On Display Options

There's now a handful of new layouts for Samsung's Always On Display feature in Android Oreo. This gives you a little variety to differentiate your phone's look, and it comes with the added bonus of tons of new color options to take the customization a step further.

Samsung Experience 9.0 brings several new features to the Galaxy S8. We will continue to maintain this list as new features are discovered. Look out for our detailed rundown of each individual feature, where we delve deeper into the details of what's new. Have you noticed anything else in the Oreo Beta? Let us know of anything we missed in the comments section below. If you still want to get in on the beta program, check out our how-to guide below!

Cover image and screenshots by Jeff Springer/Gadget Hacks

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