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7 min read 12 comments

Android 9.0 P: the latest news and features from the beta

Android P comes this year as the successor of the outstanding Android Oreo. So far it doesn't look like the update will blow us away. Apparently Hiroshi Lockheimer's team is cleaning up the code and fulfilling new demands from providers. Of course, we don't know anything about the name yet, but the Android P release timeline, including beta and developer preview, can be predicted. Now Google has started the public beta phase.

Under Lockheimer, Google has established a reasonable release plan of new Android versions. This takes place in several stages and is repeated annually. It traditionally starts with a developer preview, which was released for Android P on March 8.

Then the Google I/O follows at the beginning of May and here Google shows a detailed view of the next Android version. Usually a second edition of the Developer Preview is also included, which is then in beta stage and largely contains all new features for the release.

Only in summer is the final release of the new Android version due. Google last published the versions Nougat and Oreo in August. 

The manufacturers receive access to the source code in advance in order to start the development of updates. This has not accelerated the update speed of Android, but there is still hope that Android P will land on users' smartphones faster than Nougat or Oreo.

Public beta available

Google launched the public beta phase of Android P at Google I/O 2018. Owners of Google Pixel (XL) or Pixel 2 (XL) and some other smartphones - complete list here - can register at Google, download and install the beta now - at their own risk, of course. 

We had a chance to test the features of the new beta, including app actions, new multitasking and navigation systems, and various neat features to manage what Google calls our 'digital wellbeing'. For all the details about the new features, take a look at our dedicated article:

Find out our first impressions of Android P in this video:

 


Jump to:


What will the P stand for?

Google usually announces the official name of the Android version via social media in the summer before the release of the final version. Until then, there's a lot of guessing going on. Tech blogger Marques Brownlee and Android boss Hiroshi Lockheimer joked about Peppermint.

Pineapple is a current favorite among speculators, due to the fact that, when Google teased this year's I/O location with a Google Street View based online puzzle, a pineapple cake featured as one of the objects in a puzzle scenario...a possible clue as to the next Android name? Or a red herring?

googleioclues2
Pie? Pineapple? Peppermint, popsicle...pancake? / © AndroidPIT (screenshot)

What new features will come with Android P?

Android P features unveiled by the first developer preview

We expected to see the first Developer Preview on March 14th (Pi day) but Google avoided the obvious pun and instead released it on the evening of March 7th. This is an early version of Android 9.0, but it allows us to take a look at the functions that could be part of the final version:

  • Notch support: Developers can take advantage of dedicated libraries to optimize their apps for the increasingly widespread display indent.
  • Multi-Camera API: Developers can stream from two or more cameras simultaneously.
  • Improved notifications for messaging apps: Show images, stickers, whole conversations with contact names, suggest quick answers.
  • Indoor positioning: With WIFI IEEE 802.11mc support, apps can detect the distance of access points by triangulating the user's position in indoor environments.
  • Open Mobile API for payments with NFC: Developers can securely enable smart card payments.
  • Data cost and JobScheduler: The JobScheduler can use operator signals to control and manage pending tasks in case of network congestion.
  • ImageDecor: replaces BitmapFactory and improves support for animated images by providing better decoding, resizing and post-processing.
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) VP9 Profile 2: Support allows you to take advantage of HDR content from apps such as YouTube and Play Movies.
  • App Updates: From November 2018, the Play Store will request Android Oreo API 26 or later for apps.
  • Background apps: Background apps will not be able to access the microphone, camera and other sensors automatically to ensure greater security for users and prevent malicious apps from taking covert shots.
  • Restricted Non-Public API Access: Developers will need to migrate their apps or request new Android API developers from their team if they are not yet available.
  • Automatic compilation optimization.

Apart from what we've seen so far with the developer preview, software detectors have uncovered a few other clues that point to possible new in the next Android version, including call recording and improved IoT support.

Will we be able to record calls?

The next version of Android could officially unlock a previously hidden function and change it to be compatible with applicable law across the various markets Google operates in. According to Neowin's analysis, recording of current telephone calls with Android P is to be officially possible. Up to now, there have only been implementations from individual vendors such as Samsung, OnePlus or Xiaomi using Android's hidden APIs.

However, the new interface is implemented in such a way that both callers can hear a 1.4 kHz high beep every 15 minutes when the recording is running. This would be compatible with existing legislation in some countries.

Android could hide some features when inserting some SIM cards

Network carriers can already install Android apps when a SIM card is inserted. Android identifies the provider of the SIM card and it can recommend you to download a list of apps via wizard. Google also cooperates with providers in the development of Android. The next version might take this relationship one step further.

A new, particularly contentious feature is the concealment of the signal strength. Mishaal Rahman of XDA developers claims that Android P will allow providers to hide the bar chart for signal strength in the status bar at the top of the screen when inserting the SIM card. Rahman can't think of a good reason why anyone would want to do that, and neither can we.

Just because the conventional diagram is hidden, the state of the signal quality is not completely hidden. You can still access the measurement data via apps. Still, an unnecessary detour through the Play Store has never been a good idea.

AndroidPIT Huawei Mate 10 2523
Android P should clamp down on camera abuse. / © AndroidPIT

Better integration of Android Things with Chromecast

Android Things, previously known as Brillo, is Google's upcoming Android-based solution for embedded systems. Intended as an OS for the Internet of Things, it's designed to be compatible with relatively lightweight systems (as low as 32MB of RAM). The OS is still in its early stages so don't expect to see many Android Things devices commercially available this year, but Google is clearly working on tuning up the OS in the upcoming months. One such tweak is Chromecast integration, set to be rolled out with the release of Android Things based on Android P (9.0).

Our colleagues at XDA discovered a new volume control API on the Chromium Gerrit that enables the user to synchronize the volume level between Android Things and Chromecast devices. Although a small change, it's a clear indication that Google is working to better integrate Android Things with Chromecast.

Since Android Things ultimately aims to integrate Android with every device in your household, we can expect to see more tweaks and changes aimed to integrate Android Things into the wider Google ecosystem as time goes on.

Preliminary conclusion

Judging from the current state of affairs, Android P will be a smooth update that tidies up old features and refines existing ones. Android P doesn't seem to make a quantum leap like Android Oreo with Project Treble or Android Nougat with faster updates.

The increased security from background apps is reassuring, but it is also not exactly a milestone in Android history. But maybe the biggest feature still lurks undetected in a repository and is waiting to be revealed.

What do you think Android P will be called?
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What do you hope to see from Android P? Have you tried the preview?

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12 comments

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  • fstomaz 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    Will Google manage to make all devices update at once, just like apple?


  • Sorin 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    Android P - Pralines ! ...because I like Pralines.
    Or may be Pancake, Panna cota, Parfait, Peppermint, Pyramid (just this is not a cake name!), Penguin (it's Linux though), but I think Pizza would be better (Pizza with everything) or even Pi, the famous Pi number. :)


  • Expected Features of Android P
    As per the information received from reliable sources connected closely to Google, following are some of the expected features of Android P:

    -Prevent Background Apps from Accessing Camera

    -No Mic Access to Background Apps

    -No More Built-in Dark Mode

    -Android P Will Support Night Mode

    -Get Notified for Call Recording


  • Android P - Payasam
    Indian sweet !


  • Dean L. 3 months ago Link to comment

    I’m hoping that they may have been able to get some battery life improvements to just tweak a little more usage out of our phones.


  • Mark G. 8 months ago Link to comment

    I don't think it should be one or the other, it shouldn't be a issue for Google to continue to develop the OS and make improvements, whilst pushing the manufacturers to update their devices, sure some older phones will struggle with newer versions but it's a small amount.

    I very much like to have the latest version & it's one of the few negative things about Android (which is a manufacturer issue but Google could do more to facilitate quicker updates).

    I understand that some amount of testing is required by the manufacturers before releasing updates, they don't want to release updates if it brings more problems. It is also a cost issue due to the amount of testing for various devices.

    Though these issues are understandable they shouldn't be a barrier to a seamless update system.

    Peace 🖖


  • Dane 9 months ago Link to comment

    They're working on making it easier to update. Can't stagnate or in a few years it would be obsolete. They should definitely update their own phones as long as possible though or why should others?


  • KnIghT 9 months ago Link to comment

    I want to buy an Android AI...it sounds cool enough.....an "AI" yushhh....


  • Greg1100 9 months ago Link to comment

    Google should just keep to one os and update it as things change, like MS Win 10 does.
    And force phone makers to update very quickly, instead of years down the line, often never.


    • KnIghT 9 months ago Link to comment

      Android is the OS....the name that follows is just an easier way to represent the version numbers..So it could be said that google 'is' just updating their OS frequently.


    • if android becomes anything like windows 10 regarding updates, i am reverting to flip phones. and an IT professional, windows updates has ruined whole weeks of my life. it's an unregulated mess that takes advantage of the huge market share.


  • It seems like to force manufacturers to update their devices