Google released the first developer preview for Android Pback in early March, but at the time, we didn’t know what Google would call the mobile operating system. Well, today at Google I/O, the tech giant spilled the beans on some of the new features that will be included in the operating system, but we still don’t have an official name yet… bummer.
Google isn’t attempting to reinvent the wheel with Android P, but it is making a big push for artificial intelligence (AI) on the platform. By allowing more processing to take place on-device, you don’t have to rely so much on the cloud, and your data stays secure on your smartphone.
The company worked with its DeepMind division to use AI to help improve overall battery life (apps that you likely won’t use again anytime soon are closed in the background). AI is also being used for Adaptive Brightness, which can predict which apps you’ll want to open and what display brightness levels that you’d want for that particular app.
Perhaps the biggest change is a new gesture-based navigation system in Android. In practice, various swipe gestures that Google has implemented with Android P look a bit similar to what Apple introduced with the iPhone X. There’s now a small pill-shaped button at the bottom-center of the screen (also similar to the iPhone X), which you can use as the starting point for swiping around in the OS. You can tap it go home or swipe up to give you recently used apps. A long swipe up gesture bring the app drawer into view. Tapping and holding on the line at the bottom of the display will bring up the Google Assistant.
The dedicated back button and multitasking button have been jettisoned, although you can find the former in some apps.
Then there’s Dashboard, which gives you a detailed breakdown of how you interact with your smartphone on a daily basis. It shows you how many notifications you’ve received, how many total minutes you’ve spent on your phone during the day (a figure that could be quite alarming to some people), and a chart that shows you how much time you’ve spent on each app during the day.
There are also plenty of little touches sprinkled in including “Shush” which allows you to put your smartphone into Do Not Disturb mode by simply placing your smartphone face down on a table. Wind Down mode helps you disengage from your smartphone when you’re trying to wind down and go to sleep. You simply tell the Google Assistant when you want to go to sleep, and the screen will turn to grayscale mode when your “bedtime” arrives. Google says that grayscale output is less stimulating and will entice you to go to sleep. It’s all a push to improve your “Digital Wellbeing”. Oh, and we can’t forget that Android P also fully embraces the display notch.
The Android P Beta is available now not only on Google’s family of Pixel devices, but also on smartphones from OnePlus 6, Nokia 7 Plus, Vivo X21, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Essential Phone. You can enroll your device right here. If we take into account the most recent major Android releases, we should expect to see Android P sometime in late August or early September.