Google likes to name its mobile operating systems by way of an alphabet letter combined with a sweet treat. The last system was Android Oreo, but we’re now welcoming a new kid to the block with Android P, now officially called Android 9 Pie.
Android Pie represents a major overhaul for the OS. While there’s plenty of advancement under the hood, Android users will really notice a difference when it comes to the system’s new gesture navigation system and new user interface features.
Android Pie will slowly make its way out to eligible phones. It’s currently available for Pixel devices for starters, but will be coming soon to others. Many older phones will likely never see the update, but most recently made phones should eventually get the new features.
While Android P offers a host of improvements, we've picked out five important ones to highlight. Just keep in mind these features may not be available on all Pie-running phones right away.
1. A new home button
The little icons at the bottom of your Android screen are getting a major makeover for Pie. Say goodbye to the little square in the right-hand corner. With Android P, you will see an elongated, pill-shaped icon in the bottom center that acts a new, fancier version of the home button. Swipe up from the bottom to view your recent apps. To switch apps, just swipe right on the home button.
One thing will remain the same: tapping on the new home button will take you back to your home screen at any time. The home button change is designed to make it easier to navigate your phone with one hand, especially as smartphones keep getting longer.
2. Revamped screenshots
Here’s a small, but smart upgrade you will find in Android P. It’s all about screenshots. The normal method for taking a screenshot involves holding down the power button and the volume-down button at the the same time, which requires some dexterity and effort. With Android P, you just hold down the power button and tap on “Screenshot.” You will also get an option to edit your screenshot, making the process even more convenient.
3. Digital Wellbeing
If you worry about spending too much time on your phone, you’re not alone. Android P will introduce a set of "digital well-being" features that helps you stay informed about your phone usage and set limits on your technology time. A new Do Not Disturb feature silences visual interruptions. The Wind Down feature is a nifty idea: it turns on Do Not Disturb, reduces blue light coming from the screen, and fades the display to grayscale as bedtime approaches.
The Digital Wellbeing dashboard shows how much time you’ve spent on each app. App timers let you set limits on the amount of time you can use an app. For example, you could set a one-hour limit on the YouTube app and Android will pause the app when the timer runs out. The timer will then reset for the next day. The features are due for a wide release this fall.
4. App Actions
Android Pie wants to get to know you, learn your habits, and start making useful suggestions for the ways you use your apps. App Actions predicts what you want to do with your phone and makes suggestions based on the time of day and the actions you usually take then.
For example, it might suggest a Maps navigation aimed at getting you to work in the morning at the time you’re normally preparing for your commute. Or it may suggest picking up where you left off in a playlist when you plug in your headphones for your evening jog. These suggestions appear as rectangular prompts on your screen.
The App Actions feature could make Android start to feel more like a digital version of the know-everything butler Jeeves. App developers will have the opportunity to support this feature, but don’t expect every app out there to jump on board with it right away.
5. Adaptive battery
Battery life is always hovering around in the back of our minds, so anything that lengthens the time between charges is a welcome upgrade. Android P brings us Adaptive Battery, which prioritizes which apps get the juice based on your phone habits.
Google says Adaptive Battery will "predict which apps you'll use in the next few hours and which you likely won't, so your phone only spends battery power on the apps you care about." This is another example of how Google is harnessing machine learning for a better Android user experience.
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