Every year, major companies like Apple and Google push out initial betas of the successive iterations of their flagship OSes. Although, this time of the year is reserved for Google. Usually, Google tends to make available its latest version’s betas to the developers around March, and this time’s no different.
Google released the Android P Developer Preview for Developers having the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL just yesterday. Although, this time Google has decided to just make some backend changes and keeping the UI changes to a minimal. Developers have been given a huge importance in this update.
Google VP of engineering Dave Burke is calling this “an early baseline build for developers only,” so it is highly recommended to not mess up your daily drivers with this build. Anyways, the only method to install this build is by flashing it, which is something that not every Android user is aware of. Even the smallest mistake can lead to a bricked device or data loss. Beware!
Additionally, we don’t know what the ‘P’ in the Android P constitutes, which is per usual every year. There is a feature that allows a developer to specifically experiment with notches on the top, just like on the iPhone X, as many Android phones are copying the notch. And is the feature that is supposed to raise some eyebrows.
The drop-down notification panel and notifications have been enhanced as well. The notifications from messaging apps will now show previous messages from the chat thread along with the most recent message. But, the best part about the notification center is that every aspect now has rounded corners. Although, not like the ones on an iPhone. Apart from that, you’ll also have the option to auto-reply to conversations right from the notification panel.
Additionally, here’s a full list of new features:
“Android P restricts access to the mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle.” If an app is in the background and not active, they won’t be able to access your microphone. This is a huge bummer for Facebook-is-listening-to-you conspiracy theorists.
Built-in support for more video and image codecs, including HDR VP9 Profile 2 and HEIF (heic), with the latter bringing Android more in line with how iOS does things. Google also promises more information “later this year” on “enhancing and refactoring the media APIs to make them easier to develop and integrate with.”
A multi-camera API so an Android app can individually request the data from more than one camera sensor at once. So for phones that have two cameras on the back, there will be a standard way for apps to more granularly control them.
Support for Wi-Fi RTT (Round-Trip-Time), which allows apps to get indoor positioning data down to a meter or two. It works by measuring the distance to various Wi-Fi access points.
Better Autofill, which should make it easier for password managers to enter your password for you so you aren’t constantly doing a switch-apps-and-copy-and-switch-apps-and-paste dance.
Improved performance for ART and apps written in Kotlin.
Changes to the bits that control power efficiency in Android, including Doze, Standby, and Background Limits. The Job Scheduler also is getting smarter about understanding the device’s network state and batching apps network requests together. Apps that want to fetch data in the background will need to be tested against all of that.
Google is also warning developers that Android P is going to start throwing up warning boxes at users when they install apps that “targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2.” Basically, if you’re not using a recent SDK for your app, Google will make you feel bad by making your users distrust your app a little. It’s also going to expect that apps submitted to the Google Play store target Android Oreo in November and, in 2019, that they support 64-bit hardware.
Google is also going to start “a gradual process to restrict access to selected non-SDK interfaces.” That’s code for “use the public APIs that we have created for Android or maybe someday your app won’t work” (not an actual quote). The company is taking this one slowly and is encouraging developers to reach out if their app isn’t covered.
Now, let’s address the issue that users are probably gonna face. As per the usual business of Google, Android P won’t see the light of the day on many smartphones for a long time, until people with adequate knowledge will ultimately resort to XDA Developers to find an Android P ROM that compensates for the original release.
This is where Apple wins the game. You don’t have to wait longer than the newer versions of their devices to get the latest of updates. You are covered with instant updates even if you have a four-year-old device in your hands, and some money in your pockets to pay for WiFi connectivity.