Last week Google released the first developer preview of the next major OS update to Android, not much is know about its real name or final release day except it’ll most likely be around September again.
Last year we got Android Oreo and this year we’re on the letter P, Peppermint? Pecan Pie? Pop Tarts? Pudding? Anyway, what we do know is some of the first set of features included in this build.
First off the bat is the new look for certain parts of the UI, more rounded corners and more colour make this a very iOS like update. That’s not a bad thing because iOS is very popular and liked so going this route was always going to happen.
Android Oreo and Android P
Along with the new round look the settings menu has more colour similar to settings on Samsung Galaxy devices and iPhones, a new alarm toggle has also been added to quick settings.
The look is clean and refreshing after a few years of material design and a very light UI, the clock has also been moved to the left of the screen perhaps in preparation of the Pixel 3 notch!
The volume slider has been moved to the side of the screen and looks much better and accessible now, it also has a nice quick toggle for ring or vibrate and another toggle for bluetooth devices.
The home screen also has a very iOS like dock at the bottom but it actually doesn’t look too bad maybe if Google remove the search bar it’ll look even nicer.
Notifications have a slight upgrade on an already fantastic design, you now have inline photos and smart replies which make it even easier to reply without even having to open the app. This keeps notifications on Android the best around and Apple could learn a lot from Google on this front.
Next is Mark up on screenshots, instead of having to go into the photos app to edit a screenshot you can do it direct from the home screen.
It’s a nice feature seen on iOS and Samsung devices recently and I’m glad Google added it to Android, it allows you to crop and write over the image and share directly to save even more time.
Last major visual touch in Android P is the new zoom feature on selecting text, it’s a lot easier and smoother trying to tap the right letter in a text on-screen and just looks smarter.
Under the hood
Finally there are some under the hood refinements such as…
- HDR VP9 and HEIF formats supported: more efficient formats for storing video and images are natively supported by Android P.
- Multi-camera API, display-based flash, and other camera API additions/changes: can be used for things like portrait mode parallax/depth detection and AR.
- Measure distance to Wi-Fi access points: new location system for more precise indoor positioning.
- Apps can no longer access mic or camera in the background: not sure what apps could do this before but for the privacy-conscious, you’re safe.
- Display cutouts are supported (i.e., notches): Looks like we can expect more phones in the style of the iPhone X, and Android will have software support for them.
Android P Dev Preview 1 is a nice start to this update and with a whole summer ahead and 4 more dev previews to come, I expect a few more features to be added.
If you’re a developer you can download the update to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and 2 XL but be warned it is a beta and may have bugs, public betas are due in May.
Google I/O is in May and it’s for developers to learn the latest and greatest Android features, I think we’ll be seeing some big features announced here along with some new Wear OS features.
Overall a good start and the move towards a rounded UI is great for bezel less screens and even notches.
It almost feels like some of these features were added with the Pixel 3 in mind…