The next version of Android is here and, once again, the name is exactly what most of us predicted: Android P is officially Android Pie. Smells good?
Much to the satisfaction of Android fans all over the world, Google finally lifted the veil off its latest smartphone OS and officially named it Pie. To begin with, no surprises here, Pixel phone owners will be the very first ones to get a taste of Android 9 in all its glory. Eventually, the OS will make its way to other devices later this year.
New personalization features, battery-saving adjustments, and tools that help you track how much time you’re spending on your phone. These are merely few of the many more improvements the update promises.
The most striking change, however, will be a visual one, thanks to the new navigation system Google’s latest smartphone OS is the first Android update to address the latest trends in smartphone design, such as display notches and edge-to-edge screens. Google has responded to these changes with revamped navigational controls.
The Android Pie update introduces a new gesture-based system. There’s still a home button, as well as a back button (which has a new, minimalist look), but there’s no longer a dedicated button for app-switching. Instead, you now simply swipe up on the screen to see your recently-used apps, just like you would on an iPhone X. There are a number of other gesture-based shortcuts to get used to as well.
Android gets personal
Navigation aside, Android Pie is also the most personalized version of Android yet. Throughout the update, the system will learn from your habits to automatically make adjustments and suggestions.
A new feature, called app actions, for example, will suggest app-specific shortcuts based on your habits. Appearing at the top of your app drawer, app actions are similar to Apple’s Siri suggestions, which also suggest specific shortcuts for the things you do al the time, like look up directions home or pull up your favorite playlist.
Similarly, a feature called “slices” will pull in specific information from your apps and put it in front of you without the need to actually open the app. This feature won’t be available until later this year, but it could include things like showing Lyft prices for a ride home when you type “Lyft” into Google.)
Other AI-driven features are more subtle. New adaptive battery and display features won’t be immediately noticeable, but could make a big difference over time. Adaptive battery learns which apps you use most often and prioritizes only the ones you really need at any particular moment in order to reduce battery consumption. Likewise, adaptive brightness learns your display preferences for different types of light and will automatically make adjustments.
Android Pie’s other biggest change is a new suite of tools Google is calling “digital wellbeing” — features that are meant to help limit how much time you spend with your phone in the first place. This includes an app timer, which lets you set time limits for specific apps. When you’ve reached your limit, the app icon will gray out to discourage you from using it.
There’s also a dashboard feature similar to Apple’s new Screen Time controls in iOS 12, which breaks down exactly how much time you’re spending in each app on a daily basis.
If you need additional help to stop looking at your phone so much, there’s a revamped “do not disturb” mode, as well as something called “wind down,” which will automatically turn your phone’s display to grayscale when you’re getting ready to go to sleep.
These “wellbeing” features won’t be available as part of the initial Android Pie release, but an early version is available now to Pixel owners who sign up for Google’s beta program.