Unlike Windows and iOS, Android is an open source OS. As such, we get to see a new version in action way before it beings powering smartphones. Android P (Android 9.0) was recently released as developer preview for Google devices.
It brings with it more polish to Google’s already quite mature Android OS. Google has introduced a host of new features and improvements that make the android experience even better. So let’s dive right into the changes by Google!
Native support for a notch
Native support for a notch has been introduced in Android P developer preview. It also allows for notch simulation. Phones like the Essential phone and the Asus Zenfone 5 released recently, which have notches suffer from UI inconsistencies owing to the lack of support for a notch.
Android P promises to solve the problems arising due to the notch. It may also be speculated that this tacit acceptance of notches might signal a wave of notched smartphones entering smartphone market this fall. This development also suggests that the next pixel might likely have a notch.
API support for Dual Cameras
App developers can now access feed from dual cameras. Expect to see many new creative applications to be developed for your dual camera touting smartphone.
Notifications for messaging apps will have the last few messages in conversation. This will provide context to whichever is the latest message. Apart from this, replying from notification is also supported natively and ‘smart reply'(Preset messages which may be used as templates in messages while replying to the other party) is now available when replying through notification.
Now stickers and emoticons may also be used when replying from notification. It is now also possible to view photos sent during conversations in notification. Screenshots may also be directly edited after being taken through an app called markup which provides for basic editing functions.
Rounded UI elements may be found throughout the Android P OS. The settings menu has been redesigned with vivid colors and rounded UI elements. Individual notifications and icon styles follow suite.
Since this is the initial release many of the UI elements haven’t been altered but Google usually hints at the general UI philosophy for an android version through the design for the settings app. The signs are promising for people looking for new UI with Android P. New animation APIs have been introduced and the existing ones tweaked for a more smoother and coherent Android experience.
- Android P blocks access to microphone, camera and other sensors for background apps. This is Google reacting to widespread demand for greater privacy protection through restriction of apps
- Public Wi-Fi has long been an unaddressed security threat which Android P finally addresses. It uses fake MAC address when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Encrypted data backup has also been made available by Google in Android P
- The Lockup feature allows you to prevent, temporarily the use of fingerprint scanner. This may be useful to stop people from using your fingerprint to access the phone when you are sleeping or dead
Support for new codecs and multimedia formats
The new HEIF format for photos and a host of other codecs and formats are now supported natively.
- Indoor positioning system using multiple Wi-Fi routers present near the smartphone has now been introduced by Google. Google claims that it can find the exact location of a person upto an accuracy of 2m in presence of 3 or more Wi-Fi routers. It may be slimmer
- Volume adjustment sliders now pop up near the volume key on your phone when adjusting volume. They now (FINALLY!), by default change media volume instead of notification volume
- Navigation bar now shows the rotation icon for manually changing the orientation of the phone when the phone is tilted. It is no longer necessary to switch on auto rotation and deal with its fickle behavior for switching to landscape mode for display
- New do not disturb mode has been introduced which offers greater functionality and gets rid of multiple Do not disturb modes available in previous versions of Android
- Battery saver may now be setup to be automatically activated at any percentage values between 5% to 70%(for the more risk averse android users). It also no longer turns your status bar and navigation bar to an ugly shade of orange.
- Better autofill support available for 3rd party keyboards
- Finally, Substratum can no longer be used for themeing as google has blocked custom overlays
Under the Hood
ART has been improved for better efficiency and performance. A few new APIs have been introduced for animations.
Android P brings a more refined experience and improves on all major areas. However, there are valid concerns over the eventual rate of adoption for the new OS. Android Oreo which had been released last year is present in less than 2% of the total devices running Android.
Hence unfortunately, there is a high chance that it won’t make it to the device you are currently using. Your next device on the other hand, may very likely have Android P running it.
Though Google hasn’t named the latest iteration of Android, I would like to call it Android Peppermint. So, what are your views on Android P /Android 9 ? What new features would you like in the OS? What name do you think Google will give to its latest operating system?
Do you think Android still needs to improve to catch upto Apple’s iOS, or is it already ahead. Leave your suggestions and views in the comments!