Android P: Developer Preview
There’s a new version of Android out. Well, sort of. Google released the developer preview for Android P. An early look at the next version of Android.
Now, it’s very early on in the process still. We don’t know what P stands for. There’s a lot of new features that, presumably, Google hasn’t shown off yet but if you want an early look at Google’s OS, this is it.
Just to be clear, this is a very early developer preview. If you’re not a developer, and even if you are, if you don’t have a spare test device around you probably shouldn’t go installing this on your main device but if you got a test device lying around, then you can give it a go and here’s some of the new stuff we’ve noticed.
So one of the biggest features coming to Android P is support for a Notch.
Just like on the iPhone X and the whole bunch of other clones that we saw, the Essential phone, Android is adding native support for notches so P is gonna have better support for notches overall.
You can see it actually truncates notifications after a few, with a little dot so you can see you have more and if you’re running the developer preview you can actually simulate the notch on your device, which doesn’t usually have that cutout so that you can start developing your apps appropriately for it.
You’ll also be able to simulate different shapes and size of notches using the P beta so you’ll be able to design for a whole hosts of things, whether it’s a wide and flat one like the iPhone X or taller, thinner one like you saw in the Essential phone. No matter what shape and size your notch look like P should be able to handle it.
Messages & Smart Replies
Google’s also updating how Messaging works in Android P.
You’ll be able to see the last few messages in a conversation directly from the notifications so you can remember what you were talking about and you’ll be able to respond directly in line in the notification.
Google’s also adding support for smart replies like the ones that are featured on Allo or Gmail directly from the notification shade so a couple of responses will pop up, you’ll be able to tap on and go directly from the notification as well as stickers and images directly in line.
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Rotation Lock To Landscape
Android P will also be able to identify if your phone is trying to play wide-screen video content and automatically play it in wide-screen even if rotation lock is on, which is something that I’ve, at least, been waiting for for years.
Colorful Settings Menu
Lastly, we’re starting to see hints of what could be a new overall design for Android P. There were rumors a couple weeks back that Google was planning on overhauling the design and while there’s not too much to see here yet there are some bits and pieces.
The setting menu’s been updated, it’s now more colorful, different color icons for each setting thing and there’s an overall theme of more rounded design going around.
The notification bubbles have rounded edges, the dock has rounded edges, and there seems to be some new font stuff too. It’s a very early preview so there’s no way to know if this is final, if this will be indicative of larger changes to the OS or just a couple tweaks, but, if you’ve been holding out for a new version of Android that looks completely different there’s at least some hope for you.
Blocked Acces to Microphone, Camera & Other Sensors
Google’s blocking access to the microphone, camera, and other sensors to apps that are inactive, which should finally put to rest, once and for all, all of the conspiracies out there that Facebook is secretly listening to your conversation in order to serve you ads.
Other Features of Android P
There’s support for some new video and image codecs too like the HEIF format that Apple started using in iOS 11 and Mac OS High Sierra. There’s some indoor positioning stuff which uses multiple wi-fi hot spots to better locate your phone indoors and some auto-fill stuff that works better with password managers.
These are all great features but there’s also the unfortunate reality that the Android phone you have in your pocket right now probably won’t ever get Android P.
As of February 2018, only 1.1% of all Android devices have been updated to Android Oreo and unless you’re the phone has the word “Pixel” in the name the odds of it getting Android P when it comes out, presumably sometime next fall, feels kind of slim. Maybe things will be different this year but I would not get your hopes up just yet. Don’t expect a whole lot.
We don’t even know it’s called, although my money’s on Peppermint, for what it’s worth.