Google just released its Android P developer preview for the year giving a fair glimpse to the developers of the ‘programming features’ that they can integrate on apps. While this is the first build of the upcoming Android OS, changes are expected to follow in the subsequent previews before the final build is released this fall.
The software build as it states is specifically meant for developers and a layman would find it hard to decipher what Android P shall bring on their plate. But there are a few interesting features (though in early stage) that Android fans can look up to. Here are some of the key ones:
Google didn’t clearly reveal about refreshing the design, but preview images hint at a major facelift with its next-gen Android OS. The most talked about change is the iPhone X like notch support. Android P is said to match the status bar with the height of the notch cut out. The feature is seen in the Android OS Developer options under the name ‘Simulate a display with a cutout.’
The Settings Menu is now colourful and Google has put rounded corners, and the grey icons have now been filed with colours in the notification shade.
Better notifications & Simple Settings pulldown
Speaking about the notification shade, that takes us to the next feature. With Android P, it will bring support for ‘information alerts’ on messaging apps.
Users will be able to see messages in the ‘context of a conversation’ and view images attached from the notification shade itself. Smart replies have been integrated as well on messaging apps similar to what we’ve seen with Google Reply app’s reply bot. The notifications being one of the charms of the Android experience, Google is taking great care to add something new to it.
Simple Settings pulldown
The quick-settings pulldown which was a bit cluttered has got an overhaul. The corners as we’ve mentioned have been rounded off and the icons for Wi-Fi, flashlight, Bluetooth are now put inside circles, and the colours shift from grey to blue when in use. Other setting icons are shown in circles too.
Indoor navigation & Emphasis on security
Google’s navigation app is improving with updated driving, transit and explore maps that we witnessed last year. Now with Android P, the company has introduced support for IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol called the Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT). If this sounds confusing, well it will basically enable your device to navigate when you are indoors and when GPS typically can’t be reached. The RTT will pinpoint location within 1-2 metres and let apps to know the distance of the Wi-Fi access point that your Android phone is connected to. Further using this information, developers will be able to provide a more accurate location while you are indoors.
Emphasis on better security
Albeit numerous malware and ransomware attacks, Google is putting severe efforts to secure its Android ecosystem. And as the rumour mill spilt the beans, the company is working to improve the overall security of user’s information with Android P, the major one happening in the background. Google is developing a ‘restriction system’ that will prevent idle background apps from accessing the camera. CNET has shared a screenshot showing a new feature that locks the device with the ‘push of a button.’ The publication notes that when the feature is enabled it will let the user disable the fingerprint reader by pressing the power button and then click on the Lockdown.
Multi-camera & HDR, HEIF support
Several OEMs these days have started introducing smartphones with quadruple cameras (two at the front and another two at the back). But most them doesn’t work simultaneously and requires a third-party camera app to utilise it. Google has added API for developers that will likely provide native support for multiple cameras. This means that with Android P, it will bring depth-sensing and users will be able to use bokeh effect, zoom, 3D with third-party camera apps.
HDR and HEIF support
Android will include native support for HDR VP9 Profile 2 and HEIF. In case you are wondering, the HDR VP9 Profile 2 will basically make it easier for developers to build apps that stream HDR content. The HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) meanwhile will compress 2X image data as a JPEG image maintaining higher image quality with file size almost similar. Notably, HEIF became more popular when Apple introduced the feature supporting iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra last year.
Other visual changes
New Screenshot editor
Android P includes a built-in screenshot tool named “Markup” that will allow cropping screenshot right from the notification. The app has a few basic controls that let you edit images, along with cropping, rotating and a pack of colours to create doodles.
The ‘Power Off/Restart pop-up’ that is seen on Pixel now shows a new feature – ‘Screenshot’. This means that user will just have to hold down the power button and then select the screenshot button to capture an image, content etc that is on the screen.
Google has also added a refined media output control to Android P that pops-up when the volume key is pressed. Further, the volume slider has now shrunk and is placed to the right and below that there is the calls/ring button that switches between ring, silent & vibrate when you tap it.
These are the some of the features that we have compiled. To know more about Android P you can check Android Developer blog. It is worth mentioning that the build is specifically meant for developers, so in case if you have a spare Pixel device lying in your room or even have the latest-gen Pixel phone better don’t flash it manually right away since it’s expected to be an unstable version of Android P. Google is yet to give a name tag on its next-gen Android OS version, but considering that it has usually put candy names on its Android OS, it should have a sweet label for this year’s Android operating system too.
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