Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone and its bigger brother, the Galaxy S8+, are both due an update to the latest version of Google’s Android OS at the end of 2017. Here’s what you need to know about updating your S8 or S8+ to Android O, the new features version 8.0 brings, and when you can expect to receive the over-the-air upgrade.
We’re already approaching the end of the year and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 flagship phone still remains one of our favourite mobile devices of 2017. Along with the even more massive Galaxy S8+, the latest S-series handsets boast a brilliant user experience thanks to Samsung’s tweaks to the Android operating system.
Android Nougat is the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, and the version you’ll find installed on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. However, an all-new release, dubbed Android 8.0 or Android O, is already in the works. In fact, a beta release is available to download right now, providing you have the right equipment.
So when can you expect Android O (or whatever it ends up being called) to hit your Samsung device? What new features will this update bring, and how is the update performed? Here’s our full guide, so you’re in the know.
Read next: A full history of Android OS
What is Android O and why should I upgrade my S8?
Android O is the all-new, super-shiny version 8.0 of Google’s mobile OS, which was first revealed to the world back in March 2017. This is designed to replace Android Nougat, which is the most current public release.
We had to wait until the Google I/O conference in May to hear more details about the new Android and what features we could expect. So far, it’s sounding very promising indeed, even if we’ve seen some of the most notable updates before.
For instance, the new picture-in-picture mode can be used to watch video in a tiny movable window, while you mess around in various apps. Handy for those multi-taskers amongst us. Notifications handling has also been significantly improved, while cross-app functionality has been updated for a natural flow between the likes of messaging, maps and web browsing.
Check out our in-depth feature on the best Android O features, to see why you should seriously consider updating your Galaxy S8 or S8+ to version 8.0 when it’s available.
Which Samsung Galaxy phones will be upgraded to Android O?
Samsung hasn’t yet given us an official list of mobiles that are guaranteed to receive an update to Android O. However, you can rest assured that the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S7 will all be upgraded to version 8.0 of Google’s OS.
We’re also hoping that the older Note 5 gets an upgrade, while the new Note 8 should be updated at the same time as the S8 and S8+.
However, we’re not too confident that the more affordable Samsung handsets such as the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 2017 will be updated to Android O. After all, they’re still lingering on Android Marshmallow, with no sign of an Android Nougat upgrade in sight.
Can I try out the Android O beta on my Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+?
Only Google's own-brand smartphones (the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, for example) can officially run the Android O beta right now. However, Samsung will release its own version of an Android O beta for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ later in the year, when it’s ready to begin testing.
Last year, the Android Nougat beta was made available to users around October/November time. We’re expecting a similar release in 2017 for version 8.0.
To download the Galaxy S8 and S8+ Android O beta, you’ll need to sign up to Samsung’s Galaxy Beta Program. To do this you’ll need to download the app and have a functional Samsung Account to get started. This is a first-come-first-served scheme and should be available to users in the UK, US and Korea, at least to begin with.
When Samsung gives us an official tip of the hat with regards to this year’s beta testing, we’ll update this article with full instructions.
When can I update my Galaxy S8 or S8+ to Android O?
Right now we don't have a scheduled rollout from Google for Android O. However, we do know that it will first be publically available on the new Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 handsets. These should be launching here in the UK in October 2017, so not too long to go.
Of course, Samsung needs to make Android O work on its Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets before a rollout to fans can begin. This will take a lot of tweaking and bug zapping, as Samsung adds its own overlay and features over the top of Android. The redesigned interface needs to be implemented and features checked out, to ensure they work as intended.
With that process done and in-house testing complete, Samsung will launch a beta program for Galaxy S8 and S8+ users to try out Android O themselves. Once it's confirmed that there are no issues or bugs in the package, the new Android 8.0 update will finally be sent out to every other handset. This should hopefully happen no later than January 2018.
However, even then you might have a bit of a wait on your hands. Which network provider you're with and your country of residence will both have a say in when the update will hit your Galaxy handset.
How do I update my Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ smartphone to a new version of Android?
Your mobile phone receives any crucial updates in an over-the-air (OTA) package. Your Galaxy S8 or S8+ should notify you automatically when one of these updates is detected, prompting you to download and install the software.
Before doing so, we’d recommend hooking up to a dependable WiFi network to avoid eating through loads of your data allowance. After all, OS updates are usually pretty big. We’re talking hundreds of megabytes, or perhaps well over a gigabyte for Android O.
You can also manually check for such updates by heading to the S8’s settings menu and finding the updates section. Check out our complete guide to updating your Android phone for full instructions.