Google has finally announced the name of the next version of its popular mobile operating system Android. The latest version, known as Android P till now, has been revealed to be Android 9 Pie. The stable version of the operating system is now rolling out for Google Pixel devices across the world, which includes the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL. Other phones are also expected to start rolling out the new software in the coming weeks and months.
Android 9 Pie promises big improvements, both in the feature set as well as in the functionality and security it brings to Android devices. While the changes are visible clearly on Google Pixel phones, we’ll likely be able to utilize all of these features even on phones by other manufacturers. We’ve detailed some of the key new features for you here.
WATCH: How to install Android P Beta on select smartphones today
While the ‘artificial intelligence’ term tends to be thrown around a lot, Google is using it for presumably useful things. Android Pie will use AI to understand usage and prioritize battery for apps that you use more. Adaptive brightness predicts how you like the screen brightness settings according to the time and location, apart from using the ambient light sensor.
App actions predict what you might do next and gives you relevant options to choose from, and slices brings a part of any app’s UI to the Google Search zone. All of these put Google’s superior machine learning to better use on the new version of Android.
A new focus on simplicity
One of Android’s problems has been its complex nature, and it’s the reason people tend to go with its biggest competitor iOS – it’s just simpler. Android 9 Pie is working at making things simpler, at least on phones running stock Android. The three-button navigation system has been replaced by a single button, and a focus on gestures that are designed to be intuitive and easy to get used to.
Smartphone addiction is a growing problem, and Google is taking steps to help its users remain healthy while using its smartphones. A key new feature helps users limit the amount of time they spend on chosen apps, with a new dashboard that gives more insights into the way users use apps, including the time spent. You can also set a timer, which will disable the app for the day once you’ve crossed the time limit.
Do not disturb mode also gets better, by now blocking out visual interruptions apart from calls and texts. You can also use the new Wind Down Mode, which will turn on do not disturb and turn the screen grey to remind you that it’s time to sleep.
The AI functions on your phone might be a bit unsettling, given that your phone is gathering too much data about how you use it. Google says that all of this machine learning is happening on your device and is not using the cloud, which might serve to settle some nerves on privacy concerns regarding Android Pie.
Apart from this, apps in the background now have access to sensitive hardware restricted, even if they’ve been granted permissions for supposedly innocent purposes. This will apply to the microphone, camera and various sensors, which can’t be used by an app when it’s idle. Additionally, access to call logs now require explicit permission, rather than being categorized in the general ‘phone’ permissions, Wi-Fi scans now require similar permission and the HTTPS protocol is now preferred to the less-secure HTTP connection.