Google has released the Android P developer preview edition for Pixel 2 and the original Pixel series smartphones. Android P will be the next version of Google’s mobile operating system after Android Oreo. While the full name and features will only be revealed towards the second half of 2018, the developer preview does give clear insights into some big changes. The biggest is that Android will have space for a notch on top, similar to the Apple iPhone X. This has given rise to speculation that the future Pixel 3 will be getting a notch on top as well.
Android P’s developer preview talks about the new class of displays in detail and will allow app developers to create apps keeping this space in mind. Bloomberg had reported back in February that Google’s Android P was going to include the notch, and now it is confirmed that this will happen.
The Android P developer page explains that the OS will include “support for the latest edge-to-edge screens with display cutout for camera and speaker,” which is the notch. Google’s Android P will highlight “non-functional areas” for developers where they should not show app content. Apple with iPhone X is already asking developers to keep the notch in mind when designing their apps and content.
Android’s embrace of the notch has led to the question whether the Google Pixel 3 will come with something similar. Pixel is Google’s flagship phone, which is supposed to highlight the best of Android if one goes by what the company has said in the past. It is also Google’s take on building a premium Android device to take on the Apple iPhone. With Pixel, Google is doing exactly what Apple is, controlling the software and hardware combination, the price and the after-sales service as well.
Do note that Google does not view Pixel as a replacement for Nexus in the sense that the new phones carry a premium price tag. Also unlike Nexus where the partnership with a manufacturer was emphasised, with Pixel, Google branding is at the forefront. With Android P now accepting the notch, the assumption is Pixel 3 could offer something similar and will go ahead with an iPhone clone.
There are not too many leaks around Pixel 3’s hardware to claim accurately that it will indeed sport a notch on the front. Also, Apple’s iPhone X has a notch because the company has packed in an array of sensors on the front, including the TrueDepth camera, Infrared Camera, Flood Illuminator, Dot Projector. Apple has included all these features on the front as these are needed to carry out functions like Face ID to unlock the phone or use the Animoji feature.
In the Android world, the Essential Phone, Asus’ Zenfone 5Z have so far showcased a notch. The future LG G7 and OnePlus 6 are also expected to sport a notch based on some of the leaked images and renders we have seen so far. So it does explain why Android P is getting ready for this feature. But when it comes to Pixel 3, there is also the question of why Google would go for such a feature and what functionality will the company add here.
Will it go for a hardware-driven Face ID style feature? Or will Google add something entirely new? We can only know once the phones are revealed, but there is no doubt speculation will continue. While Google has followed some hardware trends like the edge-to-edge display in the Pixel 2 XL or ditching the headphone jack in Pixel 2, it has also resisted others. For instance, the dual camera is not a part of the Pixel 2 series.
Instead, Google has managed to incorporate an excellent Portrait mode into the front and back camera, driven entirely by software. Yet, Android P does talk of an option to let developers access multiple streams on phones with dual cameras on the front and back. Again this is being seen as indication that the future Pixel phones will finally get on board with the dual camera trend. For many, the GooglePixel 3 embracing the notch might not be a big surprise in the end, especially if one goes if Android P is taken as an indicator. How Google embeds the notch and whether it can add some new functionality is what will be interesting to see.