Android P, the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, is almost here. The search giant has released the first developer preview of Android P that shows what it plans to bring to its mobile operating system when it formally debuts later this year.
The developer preview shows an interesting direction from Google and will have wider implications for its OEM partners. The key focus seems to be around design, security, user interface and camera API with the release of Android P. Here is a look at few changes coming to your Android phone later this year:
Native Support for Notch
The most radical change coming with the new version of Android is the native support for notch. If Mobile World Congress 2018 was any indicator then it is clear that ‘notch is here to stay’ and Android OEMs are going to embrace it whether you like it or not. Google just wants to stay few steps ahead of them and support notch right out of the box.
If you install the developer preview on first or second generation Pixel phones then you will see a notch sitting right in the middle of the top portion of the display. The native support for notch means Android will shrink or truncate notifications automatically and ensure that your notifications are not overlayed with the notch. However, notch seems to be an optional thing and Android OEMs will have the option to enable or disable from developer options.
The developer option reveals that notch comes in different forms like a narrow display cutout, tall display cutout or a wide display cutout. With Android P beta, developers will be able to simulate notch similar to that of iPhone X, which is wider or a smaller one like Asus ZenFone 5 series. Most importantly, developers will be able to repackage their codes to support the notch when the operating system becomes available later this year.
Improved messaging notifications
With Android P, Google is improving visibility and function in notifications. With the new MessagingStyle notification style, messaging apps can highlight things like who is messaging and different ways to reply to them. Android P users will be able to see conversations, attach photos and stickers and even see smart replies.
Google recently released Smart Replies app that makes it easier to respond to messages and the feature is being natively supported by Android P. Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Allo and email services like Gmail will be able to suggest smart replies.
With Android P, users can access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, users will be capture images with seamless zoom, bokeh and stereo vision not possible with just a single camera.
Other improvements in camera include new Session parameters that helps to reduce delays during initial capture. With Surface sharing, camera clients will be able to handle various use-cases without the need to stop and start camera streaming. The operating system also brings APIs for display-based flash support and access to OIS timestamps for app-level image stabilization and special effects.
Material Design 2.0
Android P screenshots shared by Google suggest that the company might be planning to bring minor design changes to the operating system. The first developer preview does not offer much details about the design change but things like updated settings menu with color icons for each setting and rounded design similar to Google’s Search interface.
The design change won’t be as drastic as switch from KitKat to Lollipop but it can be dubbed as polishing the existing interface.
Other system-level improvements
With Android P, Google is further improving the way privacy is ensured on its mobile operating system. Android P will block access to microphones, camera and other sensors to app that are inactive. This will bring an end to all rumors that certain app record your videos even when they are inactive.
It also ensures that no app can gain access to these functions by creating a root access. Other changes include faster Android Runtime (ART) and Google claims ART “now uses profile information for on-device rewriting of DEX files, with reductions up to 11 percent across a range of popular apps.”
Android P also brings support for IEEE 802.11mc, also known as WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). WiFi RTT on Android will allow an app to calculate your position with accuracy of 1 to 2 meters and will serve in areas like indoors where GPS tends to be less reliable. There is, of course, more power savings option with Android P continuing to refine its Doze, App Standby and Background Limits to improve battery life. In its blog post, Google details a lot of improvements that work in the background and enhances the user experience like support for Kotlin programming language and new fingerprint API.
Google is taking an interesting direction with the next release of Android but important question is how soon will its OEM partners adapt to the new version once it becomes publicly available. Google is promising more features in future preview releases and major features should be showcased at Google I/O 2018.