Android 9 P: Google I/O 2018 New Features
The Google I/O 2018 conference has concluded and hands down, the biggest unveiling was Android P. The new iteration of the largest mobile OS in the world, Android 9 P will be made available to all Android smartphones later in the year but, Google gave us a glimpse of what’s in store for Android users around the globe.
The new Android Developer Preview version is now out for a lot of smartphones other than just the Google Pixel devices. Owners of Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH1 can enroll for the Android Beta program here.
With Android P, Google is doing a lot to address the global conversation about distractions caused by smartphones. Android P will have a lot of features built around this theme, that Google is calling “Digital Well Being.” However, Google has claimed that this was not a contingency plan and that the company has been working on curbing this growing issue for years now.
Wind Down is one of the features as part of Google’s efforts to reduce the use-time of smartphones. It is essentially an automatic Do Not Disturb mode that switches on Night Light when it gets dark. If a user has set their bedtime, the smartphone will turn all the colours on the screen to grayscale, once the clock hits the specified time. This should make using the phone a lot more boring, in turn making the user use their smartphone a lot less.
Another feature called Shush was unveiled at the conference as well. It is a new gesture that lets users turn their smartphone screen-down and automatically enable the “Do Not Disturb” mode. As is with the Do Not Disturb mode, users can still choose certain contacts to continue to get messages and notifications from.
There is no longer the circular home button and the square multitasking button is gone as well. What started out with the iPhone X has now been adopted by Google as well (sort of). With Android P, Google is changing the way users interact with the OS. The home button is replaced by this little pill sort of button that has a few functions. One little swipe up will open all the recent apps. What is interesting here is that the apps are live, which means that if you’re in WhatsApp and want to copy a phone number from the call log, you don’t have to open the specific app. By swiping up and opening the recent apps window, you can simply navigate to the Phone app and copy a number from the window itself, without opening the particular app. This feature will come in handy for serious multi-taskers. When on the home screen, a second swipe up will open the apps tray which will have all your installed apps laid out. You can also slide the pill button in the recent apps window to navigate through different apps which looks very cool and simple to use.
The back button makes a return when you’re within an app and goes away once you’re no longer in an app, simple as. This use of gestures is very different from iOS’s. There is still a navigation bar at the bottom which means you’re still losing a bit of screen real estate. However, this change will be difficult for Android users than it was for iOS users. iOS has traditionally had a few gestures within the UI, while Android, so far, has solely relied on three buttons to navigate from anywhere within the UI.
More changes are expected to be added to Android P before its final release later this year. The new changes are definitely eye-catching and we will be investigating the new Beta build in detail to find out all that is new with Android P. Google appears to have a lot of answers for questions raised against the growing overuse of smartphones. The only mystery that remains unanswered after the Google I/O 2018 conference is what does the “P” stand for? Maybe Google Assistant can tell us.