Google just revealed nearly everything you want to know about the upcoming Android P release...except for its name. Will it be Pancake? Popsicle? Profiterole? We won't know until it's closer to release later this year.
What we do know about Android P is that Google is building it around three core pillars:
It's been four years since Google introduced us to Material Design, so it's about time Android got a bit of a makeover. The new look for Android P isn't a drastic change, and is more of a continuation of what Material Design started, simplifying things with a more minimalist look, which includes the use of even more circular icons and a new dock at the bottom to make it things tidier and easier to use.
Google has also revamped many UI elements such as the notification and quick setting panels, which now includes a list of vertically scrolling icons, a redesigned settings menu, and a new vertically-oriented volume slider featuring mute and vibrate toggles and separate controls for ringer and media volume.
Android P will be the smartest version of Android to date. According to Dave Burke, Google's VP of Engineering for Android, Android P will be able to "predict the next action you want to take." It uses AI to do this in a new feature called App Actions. App Actions learns from your habits and offers you actions based on that. So, for example, if you plug in your headphones, and you'll see an action on your screen that lets you press play on music you were listening to earlier.
Actions will eventually appear as you're interacting with the launcher, Google's Play Store and Assistant. It'll also appear as part of smart text selection and Google search.
Android P will also be able to predict when you need certain apps. A new feature called "Slices" will show a small section of an app's interface, when you might need it. For example, if you look up Uber or Grab in Google search, a slice of the Uber app will appear on the screen, giving you the option to request a ride.
According to Burke, Slices will eventually show up in a variety of places on your Android phone, but they'll first appear in search. The goal is to "enable a dynamic two-way experience where the app's UI can intelligently show up in context."
Finally, Android P will also focus on improving your digital wellbeing. Android P will feature a new dashboard that will show you how much time you've been using your phone, right down to specific apps and what you are using them for. And if you notice you're spending too much time in a certain app, like Clash Royale, you can add an app timer to limit how long you can use it.
Android P also features a new “wind down” mode, which will slowly transition your device’s screen from color to grayscale, which Google says is much less stimulating and should help you fall asleep more easily. There’s also a new “Shush” mode that turns on a do-not-disturb mode when you set your device upside down on a flat surface.
Other updates and under the hood changes
Under the hood, Android P is also getting support for phones with notched displays and some new security updates that will prevent apps in the background from accessing your device’s microphone and camera. There are also new restrictions prevent apps from tracking where your data is going.
Google is also introducing a new adaptive battery feature that can automatically adjust processor speeds for your current workload, and reduce app wakeups by up to 30 percent.
Other small tweaks and changes include a new zoom lens for fine-tuned text selection, support for inline photos and smart replies, a new quick settings toggle for turning alarms on and off, and more.
The Android P Beta is available today for Google Pixel devices, as well as smartphones from many other Android manufacturers, including Sony, Oppo, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Vivo.