Google seems to be working on a new ‘touchless’ OS version of Android that one gets in a feature phone. The screenshots in question showcase Google Chrome in the new upcoming “touchless” mode. They also revealed the status bar on the top with usual Android system icons including the battery capacity, network range, Wi-Fi, the clock, and what appears to be pending “System” setup or an unattended prompt from the “Settings” app. The report also says that the “touchless” version of Android is based on Android Oreo.
A touchless version of Chrome was previously spotted in the commits back in March, with plenty of speculation that might be linked to a new version of Android that didn’t utilize a touchscreen.
The snapshots are almost identical with the only real difference being that, one shows a list of articles on the standard cards seen on a Chrome “New Tab” window. The real highlight is a new zoomed-in UI that features a contextually-relevant and changeable label — shown as “All Apps” in the screenshot — that informs the user of what they’re currently ‘hovering’ over.
As of why Google is developing the system on top of Android Oreo and not Android Pie or Android Q, we have absolutely no idea. Looking into the code it doesn’t say much, either. It might be just for the testing purposes, but using a two years old version of the system is still weird. It looks like KaiOS, the most popular feature-phone operating system is gaining a new competitor. This is something that could be announced at Google I/O next month, but no one knows for sure what is in Google’s mind.