Android P (for Pie) is Google’s most ambitious and innovative update till today.
Back in May, I caught Android Pie’s unveiling at the annual developer conference broadcast, thanks to my Spectrum Triple Play. Soon after, Android P dropped beta versions for developers, to test how well it performs. To give it it’s full name, Android 9 Pie is the formal release after the fourth beta version. And it had the whole world excited up until now. Thank God all the speculation about what P stood for is over. I have read everything from “pumpkin” to “peanut butter” and in between.
Let’s have a look at what to expect.
Android 9 Pie: A review
If you’re lucky enough to own a Google Pixel, you have probably already updated your phone. For the rest of us Android user’s, we’re still not sure when our Xiamois and Sonys will get the update. Android P is the most significant update from Google since Android Oreo, released in August 2017. Here are just a few of the quirks you can expect from the new OS:
- Adaptive Battery
- App Functionality
- Gesture-based Navigation
- Digital Well-being
Read on for more details on each feature.
A huge problem with smartphones is battery life. With apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger constantly running in the background, the battery drain is a real issue. However, Android P aims to make battery problems a thing of the past. Enter “Adaptive Battery”! Use the power of AI to optimize your battery usage. What it does is quite interesting. An onboard AI “learns” your usage habits and identifies your battery consumption patterns. It will prioritize your favorite apps, and restrict battery used by apps you use less frequently. Obviously, since the AI has to learn your habits, your battery use doesn’t get optimized right away. It will take a few weeks. For people concerned about an AI gathering data on them, fear not! The AI doesn’t save information on the cloud, and all learning happens on your phone.
One feature that will jump out at Android P users is how you can interact with apps. The new OS not only shows you apps that you search for but also additional functions and information. Usually, you’d need to open the app for this. But with Android P, you get shown actions right in the search tab along with the app. This means you can interact with an app right from the search results. For example, if you search for a location, the time-zone and weather show up. The new update will show Google images of the place as well in the same results. Let’s take another example. Try searching for the word “data”. Previously you’d get all web information on “data” as well as files on your phone. Android P will show you the mobile data settings tab in the results as well as all that.
This is the most obvious change in the new OS that users will notice. I know I had a hard time getting used to it. What am I talking about? The navigation icons we are so used to at the bottom of the screen are no longer there. Instead, there is a single icon at the screen’s base, right in the center. This is Android shifting to a gesture-based navigation approach, much like Apple. A long press of the digital button will open Google Assistant. Swiping up brings you to your last opened app. You can scroll through all your open apps here. Swiping up will open the app drawer. Tapping on the drawer opens the home screen. This sounds more confusing than it really is. The new approach is actually quite intuitive and quirky. However, if you’re not impressed by it, you can always change back to the old navigation settings you prefer.
Although this part of the update is still a beta version, it’s still a feature worth mentioning. Google announced it some time ago and is bringing it to life in the new OS. Digital well-being is the company’s attempt to limit the time you spend on your phone unproductively. The OS lets you see a dashboard of your phone habits. You can see everything from how long you were on your phone today to what apps took up the most time. You can even see how many times you’ve unlocked your phone in a day. The OS also goes a step further by letting you set timers on apps. It even lets you set when your phone should go into Do-Not-Disturb so you can concentrate on other things.
There’s a digital conspiracy theory that has worried people for some time. Namely, that Facebook and other companies make apps that quietly listen in on your conversations. So if you were talking about ISPs around your phone, you might start seeing Spectrum customer service ads on it. While this theory lacks conclusive evidence, Android Pie will be a relief for people who value privacy. Once an app goes to background status on the new OS, the update will restrict app access. Specifically to the mic, camera and other sensors. Are you wary of those Orwellian apps that ask for invasive permissions? Android P will make sure they can’t snoop on your from the background.