Intelligence, simplicity and digital wellbeing are the three pillarstones of the upcoming Android P operating system, for which the third Beta is available now. This update is near-final, according to the company, with the final Android 9.0 release expected in August.
Android Pistachio, as it may eventually be called, builds in hundreds of improvements, but some of the most important were discussed at the Google I/O 2018 keynote on 8 May.
- Adaptive Battery: Uses machine learning to work out which apps you use and when, waking them only when they are likely to be required and in an energy-efficient manner
- Adaptive Brightness: Takes into account personal preferences give the ambient lighting, then manages those adjustments for you in the background
- App Actions: Builds on the App Predictions feature by also recommending the actions you are likely to take next
- Slices: Allows part of the app UI to be brought right into the Google search results, allowing you to, for example, order a Lyft without opening the app (early access begins in June)
- New navigation system: A single clean home button, that you swipe up to see predicted apps, and up again to see all apps. Slide to the side to see open apps. Works in any app
- Smart text selection in Overview
- Simplified volume controls
- Rotation Button: Appears on naviation bar as you turn the device
- Android Dashboard: Aims to help you understand your habits and promote meaningful engagement. Shows you, for example, how many times you unlocked your phone, how many notifications you received, and how many apps you used. Also gives you controls for how and when you spend time on your phone
- App Timer: Lets you specify how long you should spend using an app, and nudges you when that time draws near
- Slush Gesture: Turn over your phone to automatically enter Do Not Disturb mode
- Wind Down Mode: Tell Google Assistant when you want to go to bed, and when that time draws near it will turn on Do Not Disturb and switch the screen to greyscale mode
How to get Android P now
If you'd like to install the Android P Beta you'll be able to enrol for the Android Beta Programme.
The Beta is available on Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, plus the Nokia 7 Plus, Essential Phone, Oppo R15 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ2, Vivo X21UD, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S.
When is Android P coming out?
With the Developer Preview announced in March, and a Public Beta announced on 8 May at Google I/O 2018, we should be on track for a mid- to late-August release as in previous years.
What will Android 9.0 be called?
Since the early days of Android updates have been named after sweet treats and in alphabetical order. So far we've seen:
- Android Donut (v1.6)
- Android Eclair (v2.0)
- Android Froyo (v2.2)
- Android Gingerbread (v2.3)
- Android Honeycomb (v3.0)
- Android Ice Cream Sandwich (v4.0)
- Android Jelly Bean (v4.1)
- Android KitKat (v4.4)
- Android Lollipop (v5.0)
- Android Marshmallow (v6.0)
- Android Nougat (v7.0)
- Android Oreo (v8.0)
In 2018 we should see Android 'P' launch as Android 9.0. The name won't be announced until August, but that doesn't stop us having a guess as to what it could be.
There are already rumours the name could be Android Pie, Android Pecan Pie or Android Pumpkin Pie, thanks to a reference to Android Pi within the Android Open Source Project. But that doesn't sound very Google.
The company has also been sharing some images of popsicles on Instagram. Popsicle is a trademarked name, but that doesn't mean Google won't go there. The easter egg within the Android P beta (shown at the top of this page) also looks very much like a popsicle.
Within the Street View puzzle game that was used to reveal the date for Google I/O 2018 a Pineapple Cake was casually left sitting on a desk.
Other sources are pointing to Android Pistachio Ice Cream, which is apparently what Google is calling the upcoming OS internally. The name Pistachio has also popped up in a conversation with Huawei Customer Support. It fits the usual sweet-treat requirement, and from previous OS names we know Google likes ice cream. But pistachio? What about all the nut-allergy sufferers?
Our favourite is Android Popsicle, but vote in our poll below and add any other ideas to the comments at the bottom of this page.
When will my phone get Android 9.0?
Although Android 9.0 will be released in August 2018, it won't be immediately available to all Android devices. The update will first be available to Google Pixel devices, and then we'll start to see new phones arriving with Android P out of the box at September's IFA 2018 show.
Android updates are rolled out by phone manufacturers and network operators rather than Google itself, because any Android updates must first be tweaked to work with any customisations they have made.
Those with vanilla interfaces - such as Nokia, which has already confirmed Android P updates for all 2017 phones - will be among the first to roll out the update, then the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC will begin rolling out Android 9.0 in late 2018/early 2019.
OTA updates, when they do arrive, are expected to download and install faster and use less data thanks to Google's Brotli compression algorithm.
There's also no guarantee that your device will be updated to Android 9.0 .Device fragmentation is still a problem for the OS, and at a recent count (by Android Developers) on 7 May there were still devices running version 2.3.3 Gingerbread.
|4.0.3-4.0.4||Ice Cream Sandwich||0.4%|
What new features to expect in Android 9.0
As well as the three main areas of intelligence, simplicity and digital wellbeing as detailed at the top of this article, Android P promises hundreds of other improvements. Some of these are touched on in the Android P Preview video above, and we've outlined some more rumours below.
An interface change is said to be coming to the apps tray, which will now scroll horizontally rather than vertically.
Previously XDA Developers has also suggested that Google will remove access to unofficial APIs (those not part of the official SDK) - news that will upset some developers.
Other changes we can expect to see in the upcoming update, according to the enthusiast site, include support for Wi-Fi Direct Printing support and Bluetooth hearing aids, and better integration for Android Things.
The new OS will also prevent malicious apps running in the background from accessing your camera and mic in order to spy on you, according to AOSP. We'll have to wait and see how this affects anti-theft apps, a consideration pointed out by Slashgear.
One potential new feature is to do with smaller image file sizes. In iOS 11 Apple introduced HEIC files, which are also known as HEIF or High Efficiency Image Format. It’s the still image version of HEVC, which is the latest video codec. It makes for Jpeg images just 50 percent of their previous size, can store image edits and multiple photos in one file (think Live Photo and burst mode), and it supports transparency and 16-bit colour.
HEIC is not a proprietary image format developed by Apple itself, so there's every possibility Google could opt for the same format. However, Google is also working with the Alliance for Open Media on its own version that is currently able to create images 15 percent smaller than HEIC. It would make sense to use the better version, of course, but for now the project is very much in its infancy. Whether it will be ready for Android 9.0 we simply don't know.
There is some suggestion that a phone will need a reasonably powerful processor to take advantage of HEIC, however, which means budget phones may not get the change.
According to Bloomberg, Android is also set to be adapted to support phones with a 'notch' design, as introduced by the iPhone X. The upcoming OS will also support foldable displays, such as that of the Galaxy X, and devices with multiple displays.
Increased call blocking is another possibility, according to XDA, where users will even be able to block private numbers, pay phones and numbers that either have no ID or aren't in your contacts list.
Another interesting rumour from XDA is that Android P will allow you to use your phone as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. It will work in a similar way to the new Samsung DeX dock for the Galaxy S9.
Google is also working on another operating system called Fuchsia, which some are saying could replace Android in the longer term.
What would you like to see in Android P? Let us know in the comments.