After initially unveiling Android P earlier this year, Google provided more details about the upcoming version of Android at the opening keynote of its developer conference. There are plenty of new features in Android P, but more importantly, Google has also added tools to the OS to help you spend less time on your smartphone.
In typical Google style, the company is also playing catch up Apple here and has
copied taken inspiration from some of the features that we first saw debut on the iPhone X last year. Let’s have a look at some of the features which Android P brings to the table.
New System Navigation Gestures
The new system navigation gestures in Android P is going to have a major impact on how you use your smartphone. Google says that the new gestures are aimed at making it simpler and faster to browse around the OS and also aid one-hand use. While it might seem that Google is simply copying Apple here with its gestures, but that is not the case. The company’s approach is vastly different from that of Apple.
On the home screen, the navigation bar is partly and one can swipe up from the home button to bring up the Overview screen. This screen gives a preview of all your running apps, and it even displays a list of your frequently used apps at the bottom. Replacing the Recent Apps view, the Overview screen been redesigned with a horizontal layout for easier browsing. And even better, you can copy paste content from an app right from its Overview card.
To quickly scroll through your open apps, you can drag the home button to the left or right. Another swipe up from the home screen will bring up the app drawer thereby providing you with quick access to your installed apps.
Google has once again tweaked the design of the Quick Settings panel, the Settings menu, and certain other parts of the UI. With Oreo, the company had sucked the colors out of its UI and with Android P, it seems to be bringing them back to the mix thereby giving the whole OS a more lively feel.
Google is also making extensive use of machine learning in Android P to improve the overall user experience. It is doing this by making your smartphone learn your usage pattern and then show relevant tasks to you and optimizing the OS to improve battery life. Google is calling this feature Adaptive Battery as the OS adapts to your usage to extend the battery life of your phone. What’s even more impressive is that it predicts how long your phone’s battery will last depending on your usage.
Predicting your Move
With App Actions, Google tries to predict your next move and show you the relevant option. So when you connect your earphones to your smartphone running Android P, it will automatically show an action to resume playing your favorite Spotify playlist. Similarly, the app drawer will now not only show your most frequently used apps but also your frequent actions like calling your mom or messaging your friends.
Slices are similar to App Actions except they are slices of actions which show up when you search for something. So, searching for Uber or Lyft will bring up a slice of action that will allow you to directly book a cab for home or office.
There’s also a new Adaptive Battery feature which depending on your usage pattern, prioritizes those apps that you will use depending on the time of the day to improve the battery life of your device.
What’s even better is that Google is offering developers its MLKit framework that will allow them to implement some of these machine learning prowess in their apps.
While Google is making Android P easier to use, it also wants users to spend less time on their smartphone. This is why it is introducing Dashboard and a slew of other features with the OS aimed at cutting the clutter from your smartphone life.
Dashboard will act as a centralized location to show the amount of time you spend on your smartphone, your frequently used apps, the time you spend on them, the amount of time you have unlocked your phone, and more. Developers can add support for the Dashboard in their apps to show even more granular information. So, for example, the YouTube app can show how much time you have spent watching videos not just on your smartphone but also on the web.
Then there’s App Timer. As its name indicates, you can set the daily usage limit of an app. When you are close to that limit, you will be reminded of it. And once that limit is crossed, the app’s icon will be greyed out to remind you of this.
Google has also improved its Do Not Disturb mode to silence not just incoming calls and notifications, but also visual interruptions that pop up on your screen. Even better, you will be able to quickly enable Do Not Disturb on your Android P running device by turning it face down on the table.
Lastly, there’s Wind Down that will turn on Night Light, Do Not Disturb, and change the screen to grayscale right before your bedtime. This will ensure that you do not end up spending hours on your smartphone before dozing off to sleep.
To reduce clutter, Android P will make use of machine learning to keep a tap on the notifications you care about. If you keep swiping away certain notifications without taking action on them, Android P will show a prompt asking if you’d like to disable notifications from that app completely.
These are some of the major improvements that Google is introducing with Android P. Apart from them, there are hundreds of other changes as well including improved security and performance, support for displays with a notch, Accessibility improvements, and more. As for its release, the final build of Android P is scheduled to drop in Q3 2018 which is when we’d know what the ‘P’ stands for as well. In the meantime, Google will release a few more beta builds of the OS with bug fixes and other improvements.
My personal favorite new feature in Android P is Adaptive Battery and App Actions. Google is making extremely smart use of deep linking to surface frequently used in-app actions in the app drawer to speed up your day-to-day smartphone usage.
Apart from Android P, Google also announced a bunch of improvements to Google Assistant which simply show just how far ahead of the competition Google’s virtual assistant is.
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