Google has just released the Android P Developer Preview. Here’s everything we know – and think we know – about the upcoming Android 9.0 operating system, including when Android P is coming out.
With the Android P Developer Preview now available, we have a much better idea of what to expect. We explain when and what we expect to see from Android 9.0, which may or may not be called Pistachio Ice Cream.
When is Android 9.0 coming out?
A consumer preview of Android 9.0 will most likely be announced during Google I/O 2018, which we expect to take place in mid-May, potentially 16-18 May 2018. As before with Oreo, the developer preview was announced earlier in March.
A few public betas will follow, and we expect to see the final consumer release in August 2018.
How to get the Android P Developer Preview
Released in early March, the Android P Developer Preview is available only to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. You can download the Android P system image and flash it to your device, or run Android P in an emulator.
If you do decide to flash the Developer Preview, to revert to your current OS you’ll need to flash a factory image
We aren’t providing step-by-step instructions because the Developer Preview is not intended for normal users. A consumer preview will be available soon, likely at Google I/O in May. We’d strongly recommend waiting until then to try the latest features.
Android P Features and APIs
1. Indoor Positioning with Wi-Fi RTT
Google wants to make turn-by-turn directions while you are inside just as good as Maps has become when you are outside, and Android P is going to start making that happen with a little help from WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). This feature in 802.11mc will make it possible for apps to know how far you are from the WiFi access point you are connected to, and developers will be able to use that information to give you a more accurate location indoors.
If that sounds like something you’re probably not going to be able to use on your existing phone, there’s a good chance you are right. This will likely be a feature you will benefit from in your next phone, rather than the one you have in your hand right now. Most likely a phone with the Pixel branding on it somewhere.
2. Notifications improvement
Google is making it possible for developers to move even more of the conversation from your messenger of choice into a notification. Image attachments and stickers are appearing in the notification now, replacing that dreaded “person has sent an attachment” message you get now. This dramatically improves at-a-glance messaging, but also means sometimes a single message in your notification drop-down can occupy a lot of physical real estate.
This new notification style will also give developers the option to add quick replies, similar to the system currently seen in Google Allo and the reply bot in Google’s Reply app. It’s not clear yet how much control developers will have over these replies, or if the system will simply tie into the Smart Reply system Google is currently using elsewhere, but either way more robust notifications are on the horizon.
3. Multi-camera support and camera updates
Several Android phones have multiple cameras on the front or back these days, but very few of them are able to work simultaneously. Google is adding an API for developers to explore a world where multiple cameras being used at the same time is possible.
This could mean anything, from depth-sensing magic using multiple cameras to an Apple-style live Portrait Mode or even commercial phones using a standard camera and a thermal camera at the same time to overlay the two images.
Additionally, Google is adding support for apps to use image stabilization and display-based flash just like the primary camera app on your phone. Bottom line is third-party cameras are going to keep getting better.
4. Tripling down on privacy
There are a lot of security and privacy things happening in the background for Android P. The biggest by far is a new restriction system for sensors, cameras, and microphones when an app is marked as idle. All of these systems will stop reporting to the app as soon as it is idle, and any apps looking information from those sources will get nothing in return. Google is going so far as to recommend removing any language requesting background access because those features will no longer function.
Google is also enabling encryption for backups with a client-side secret and per-network randomization of MAC addresses, but these features won’t be fully available until later versions of the Android P preview.
Finally, individual apps are going to have better access to the fingerprint system in Android P, including a better UI across apps so users know that fingerprint authentication comes from the same trusted source.
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