Google has released its first look at what everyone can expect in the next version of Android. As of today, developers are able to download the first version of Android P on last year’s Pixel and Pixel XL as well as the newer Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices.
Since this is a developer preview, we’re not getting a lot of information about consumer-facing features, but there is a lot of detail on what new features and technologies developers can take advantage of in their apps when Android P is released later this year.
First, the most interest feature that will catch a users attention is improved messaging notifications. Last year, Google made it a priority to revamp notifications, and Android P will bring more of your conversations into the notification shade. Taking a look at some screenshots below, messaging apps can include multiple lines from a conversation along with Google’s smart replies in the notification shade. This makes responding a lot quicker while including more of the conversation to you.
Apple’s introduction of the notch is spreading like wildfire. This won’t go away, so Google had to include support for cutout displays in Android P. This will make it easier for developers to manage how a screen cutout affect their apps content. In addition, the OS will now support HDR VP9 video, so that HDR_enabled video on YouTube and Play Movies will work on compatible devices. The HEIF image encoding option will also be supported by Android P.
Another trend these days is having multiple cameras on a smartphone. For this, Google has added a new multi-camera API for Android P, enabling developers to access “multiple streams” from two (or more) camera lenses. How this will be used is up to the developers, but Google says that apps will be able to pull an image’s data simultaneously from both dual-front of dual-rear cameras.
Location tracking is something else that’s been a hot topic being discussed. To address the difficulties with location tracking that occurs when a phone and user are indoors by supporting the WiFi RTT protocol. RTT, which stands for “round-trip time,” lets your phone measure distances between WiFi access points without actually having to connect to them. Once your phone is able to tell the distance between three or more access points, Google says that your position can be determined with an accuracy of one to two meters. This will help apps do better indoor mapping, and is something Google has been working on in its Maps for many years now. In addition, Google says that it will help support “disambiguated” voice control. For example you can say something like “turn on this light”, which is basically where Google Assistant understands where you are and what light you’re talking about.
Lastly, Google is continuously working to improve Android’s foundation. This includes power-saving tools like Doze, App Standby and Background Limits. Android P will help push developer and users both to run more current apps where it will show a dialog box when you try and install an app that targets versions of Android earlier than 4.2. Current apps that are being developed can now target Android P, so it won’t be too hard to fund apps that are ready to take advantage of Android P.
For developers, Google has published initial release of Android P, and can only be installed with a direct download and flash of your device. You can find the insurrections to do so here. As warning, Google as said that Android P is not for daily use or consumer use, so don’t put it on your phone and rely on it. At Google I/O, which takes place in two months, is where we will get all the details about Android P and its features.