Android P beta was announced at Google’s I/O 2018 conference this week and already it is available for download on the Pixel, along with 7 other smartphone brands – which is a first. Android P is available for flagship devices from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Sony, Essential and HMD Global’s Nokia. Google has also confirmed the launch of a Go edition of Android P, that was unmentioned at the conference.
This year, 2018, marks a decade of Android, which has emerged as the world’s dominant smartphone operating system. Android P introduces several new features, including a new gestures navigation system and other fascinating consumer features.
“With the Beta version of Android P we have a lot of new consumer features. With Oreo we spent a lot of effort on Project Treble, hence we did not have so many new features. However, the benefits of Project Treble are clear going forward, with more devices being available on Android P”
-Dave Burke VP Engineering, Android.
For those of you who don’t know, Project Treble is a re-framing of Android architecture that makes it faster, cheaper and quicker for different manufacturers to upgrade to newer versions of the OS. This is why different phones from other vendors are now available for the beta version of Android P at launch.
The other big change with Android P is the new ‘Gestures’ feature. Android P has gotten rid of the three navigation buttons, which have, for years, been associated with the operating system and instead implements a single home button. Naturally, this new interface that revolves around a gesture-based UI and a single button for navigation have drawn comparisons to iOS and the iPhone X. However, Dave Burke does not agree with the view that Google copied on Apple on this.
“We have always had gestures, even with Android 1.0 where you could swipe down and get the notifications shade. We’ve been adding gestures continuously. With Android P, we are changing the space and the relationship a bit,” he said.
“We’re ahead of other people in this and we went further, by the way, with this UI. You can see the content, you can also select things in the Overview feature. We also allow users to select an image in the Overview. We’re very careful to keep that home button and we think it is very important to go back to the same place. It’s something we’ve been working on before the iPhone X,” he added.
Android P will also see more focus on features driven by Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning. The UI will have a new Actions feature where the OS will give users suggestions around what they can do next with an app, which they might use more often. With the new Home button, Google says it makes the UI easier to use. There’s also a new Dashboard for helping users with their digital well-being, which can break down,for a user, their habits and usage of a smartphone. This provides insight into what aspects of the phone you use most, which apps you use at a given time and in conjunction with certain other apps. All this data allows the phone to give you better suggestions and optimizes the interface so that, possibly, one day, your phone will have the right app ready for you, exactly when you need it. Imagine having Maps open automatically when you reach an unknown place, or Instagram open directly after you finish editing a picture on Snapseed. Machine Learning and AI will make these phones more interactive and truly “smart” phones.
Google’s VP of Product Management Sameer Samat says this is part of the company’s long-term commitment to help people use technology in a more balanced way. “We have to look at the role that tech is playing in the world. Google has a responsibility in this and we have make sure we listen to how people use tech. This notion of balance has come up more and more as a topic in the last couple of years,” he adds. Google is also improving the DND mode to ensure that even visual notifications disappear from the screen when this is activated.
The future of Android is very exciting, indeed! The latest flavour of the OS – Android P introduces many new features and opens the doors to several new opportunities in the world of mobile phones. Mobiles are going to get a lot smarter, a lot faster and the best part is, thanks to Project Treble, these phones will be available across the spectrum of devices – from expensive flagship devices, to low-end, budget models.
Read more about Android P at the official website.