P is for preview with Google’s latest Android developer release

Android handset lovers, rejoice. Good ol' master Google has just let loose the developer preview of Android P, the next version of the operating system. Developers can get cracking right away as there are system images available, though only for Pixel devices for the time being. The release has no name yet, but we're betting on Pizza or maybe even Pepsi, or its equivalent PoorCoke. Meanwhile, let's take a look at the user-facing highlights in this release.

The headlining feature is probably an again-revamped notifications panel. Applications can now add images to notifications, and the system should also identify group conversations as well as the people in it. Users can also save replies as drafts or use system-suggested replies.

GPS location in phones already works pretty much flawlessly, but Android P takes things a little further with support for Wi-Fi RTT (known as the IEEE 802.11mc standard). That feature means that the phone and apps can know your indoors location by reaching out to nearby Wi-FI access points (APs). The pinpointing can be accurate down to a radius of one to two meters if there are three or more APs in range. Google says this enables features like asking a virtual assistant to "turn on this light," or have the handset display special offers for specific products inside a supermarket. The Android team notes that the APs don't keep location data—the process is all done in the phone.

Surprising absolutely no-one that's not living under a rock, Android P adds API-level support for the latest regrettable fad in the phone world, screen notches. Apps will be aware of the existance of a notch and its shape and alter their behavior accordingly. Developers can simulate a notch on the SDK, too.

Multi-camera setups are also a common feature on high-end handsets, and Android P has system-level support for handling and mixing the output of several snappers together. On the image topic, there's now API support for HDR VP9 video and HEIF images. The latter in particular is rather interesting as it can enable massive space savings when storing pictures.

Nobody likes data-hogging apps, and Android P has a few nifty features to curb excessive data usage. Applications can now declare how much network data they're expecting to consume and how often they could be prefetching data. In turn, Android P's scheduling services can prioritize network requests appropriately according to timing, size, and network conditions like being on an unmetered connection or a busy one.

Besides the big topics outlined above, Android P also offers touch-ups to accessibility functionality and power efficiency. Apps should start a little faster and take up less RAM, thanks to improvements to Android's runtime handler ART. Security-minded folks will also appreciate a unified system-level fingerprint dialog and improved private key handling.

Android upgrades to existing handsets have always been a sore spot, and our expectation is that about zero of the handsets recently announced at MWC will have it. However, starting September 2018, all applications in the Play Store will be required to target API Level 26, aka Android 8.0 Oreo. Along with Project Treble, this move might go some way toward easing upgrade pains for OEMs.

Android P should be out in Q3 2018, according to Google's preview schedule. The company will talk at length about the upcoming release at its I/O 2018 conference.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    Google has P and Microsoft has S.

    I swear, there’s a conspiracy going on.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Surprising absolutely no-one that's not living under a rock, Android P adds API-level support for the latest regrettable fad in the phone world, screen notches.[/quote<] Turns out i've been living under a rock then. What are screen notches?

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      [url<]http://s.newsweek.com/sites/www.newsweek.com/files/styles/lg/public/2017/11/06/apple-iphone-x-notch-samsung-ad.JPG[/url<]

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 2 years ago

    When I saw that the Nexus 5X (and 6) had been excluded, I sighed that sigh of resignation. Yeah, yeah, I get it. Don’t mean I have to like it that they’re deliberate obsoleting hardware just because they can.

    Phone is very capable. Too bad they’d rather I go out and buy a $600+ Pixel phone that is in no way a replacement for the Nexus value phones they once had.

    And the Motorola’s that Project Fi keeps trying to con me into purchasing aren’t either.

    Bring back Nexus, Google. Pixels suck.

      • DancinJack
      • 2 years ago

      Pixels don’t suck. You just don’t want to pay that price. Don’t conflate the two.

    • Peter.Parker
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<] The release has no name yet, but we're betting on Pizza or maybe even Pepsi...[/quote<] not sure about Pizza... it's popular, but it's not a sweet candy, and Pepsi is a liquid (I mean, Honeycomb was preferred to Honey). Maybe these are better alternatives Payday Pez Peanut Butter Pecan Pie Push-Pop

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      Never heard of a push-pop, but Popsicle seems like the obvious choice.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        HOW HAVE YOU NEVER HEARD OF A PUSH-POP THEY WERE A STAPLE OF THE [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_Pop<]NINETEEN EIGHTIES[/url<] edit: url tag can't be all caps.

          • UberGerbil
          • 2 years ago

          According to that wikipedia entry, they came out in 1986, when I was already in college and past my candy-eating years. But even at that you’d think I’d have seen an ad or something. When I looked at the picture I literally said to myself “I have never seen those before.”

    • kvndoom
    • 2 years ago

    Peppermint or Payday. Not sure which one, but I’m quite confident it will be one of those.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 2 years ago

      With Android 9 Google will be encouraging manufacturers to p-p-p-pick up a penguin.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<] Security-minded folks will also appreciate a unified system-level fingerprint dialog and improved private key handling.[/quote<] Why it wasn't implemented like this from the start, I have no idea.

      • willmore
      • 2 years ago

      Because it wasn’t a feature that Google first implemented. One of the OEMs did and they did it as a ‘surprise’ feature without the involvement of the other OEMs or Google, and therefore did it in the stupidist way possible. Since then, Google has had to wrangle all of them into line and standardize things. This is one of the few reasons that the death of the Nexus line has been good for Android. It’s made it more likely that the Google flagship phones will push a feature first and, hence, have a decent API made for it that everyone else can follow.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        Samsung did, and they still have separate permissions for those older handsets. When Google implemented it they used their own APIs.

    • DancinJack
    • 2 years ago

    I’ll have to read the support docs, API updates, and library updates but I really hope they made some more updates to the BT stack. Google REALLY needs to work on cultivating a wireless audio ecosystem now that they’ve gone user hostile and removed headphone jacks from their phones. I’m not just talking about the BT stack either. They made the completely awful Pixel Buds for what? I honestly don’t know. Partner with someone and make some real headphones, Google.

    All in all though I’m pretty excited for P. I have seen this running on a phone and there are some good visual updates I think Android has needed for a long time, along with some nifty new transitions to make the interface feel smoother that have been sorely needed.

    • sweatshopking
    • 2 years ago

    Still rocking my 950xl. Had a new galaxy that i sold (for a profit, luckily) that i just couldn’t get comfortable with. Going to be with windows phone until i pick up an Andromeda device after it fails and fire sales.

      • dodozoid
      • 2 years ago

      What is Andromeda?

        • sweatshopking
        • 2 years ago

        The next attempt by MS at mobile. Rumored to be a dual screen setup running windows on arm.

          • dodozoid
          • 2 years ago

          That sounds like interesting device. I was somewhat disapointed when I leaned that Win10 on arm doesent have a telephony stack. It would make so much sense as a phone os w/ continuum support for viable desktop replacement. If Win10 on arms catches up, we might one day indeed carry what used to be full blown desktop in our pockets every day.

            • sweatshopking
            • 2 years ago

            Sounds like that’s the idea.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      >after it fails and fire sales.

      That’s about how I feel about Micorosofts mobile executional powers nowadays too lol. I’d love to see a strong third horse in the race so I don’t /hope/ it fails, there’s just been a great deal of bungling their mobile story over the last few years so they have a lot to prove.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    Now that Google don’t make affordable Nexus phones, the number of people who get to experience this is drastically reduced.

      • tsk
      • 2 years ago

      Yes but Nokia joined Android one, meaning you can experience this on a sub-300$ phone.

        • Spunjji
        • 2 years ago

        Sort-of, but not the preview releases.

        Back when I had my Nexus 5 (RIP) I was beta-testing Google’s new OSes for them. Now I don’t have a single device that even runs Oreo (Samsung S7, Moto G5).

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    Pixel C, I’d say we’ll remember you, but I’m only reminded of you when support or production ends.

    Two years for Googles own tablet getting support, that’s not great. I know it was just that much on phones too, but people keep tablets for a long time. Blame Qualcomm if you want but Google should have the clout to fight this.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 2 years ago

      The thing about blaming Qualcomm that chaffs me is that Google apparently just realized it was a problem last year. Eight (almost nine) years after Android launched for the public, there have finally been changes in [url=https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/09/android-users-rejoice-linux-kernel-lts-releases-are-now-good-for-6-years/<]Linux kernel LTS policy[/url<]. Only then does it not matter if Qualcomm doesn't update drivers since those devices can just stay on their current kernel.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    Pixel devices are about the only Android devices that Google supports these days, so I wouldn’t expect the preview to be made available for anything else. The Nexus party is over. Those devices got their 2 years of OS updates and now they’re no good anymore and a year of security updates is the most they can hope for before they’re summarily executed. Pixel C is going to the old folks’ home, too. It came out in 2015 so it’s had its two years. No P-soup for you!

    /s

    Edit: these previews are absolutely not any good for daily drivers and should not be installed with those expectations. So who’s going to install this software? Do [s<]people[/s<] developers just have the latest devices sitting in a drawer waiting for preview installs?

      • tsk
      • 2 years ago

      Developer preview, it’s for developers to install.

        • DancinJack
        • 2 years ago

        Also this. The images are mostly for devs to put on phones to test their new apps, but also they have to have a full build for Android Studio emulator images too. All dem new APIs.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 2 years ago

          Android Studio images make sense, of course. I guess most Android devs spend more on test hardware than my group does. 😆

            • DancinJack
            • 2 years ago

            Yes, I’d imagine dev shops that develop full native Android apps generally have the latest and greatest devices from Google to be able to test stuff on. 700-900 bucks a year is nothing to be able to get a jump on the new versions.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 2 years ago

            Yeah, that’s probably true. Especially if you’re making money by direct sales and ads. The only way we make money is when people subscribe to the SaaS solution, of which the mobile experience is a small part.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        No shit lol

        To fix the last sentence:

        Do [s<]people[/s<] developers just have the latest devices sitting in a drawer waiting for preview installs? Cos I sure as heck don't.

      • DancinJack
      • 2 years ago

      Say what? Google devices get three years of security updates IIRC. It may be two, but it’s definitely not just one.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        oh, it might be more, but either way those devices are done with OS updates.

          • DancinJack
          • 2 years ago

          Indeed. Luckily, you can usually find a near AOSP ROM on XDA to flash for a while even after Google’s updates have stopped.

            • Spunjji
            • 2 years ago

            Then comes the fun of finding out which particular dated daily build actually has most of the features you want working and the fewest bugs…

            Not to mention that using a build from XDA for development purposes is probably going to cause more problems than it would solve!

            • DancinJack
            • 2 years ago

            Not if you buy a phone that isn’t some chinese knock off. Every phone I have had has had great support from XDA with fully working ROMs from very early on.

            I didn’t mean to use them for dev. Just to keep getting updates on your phone after the two or three years have gone by.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 2 years ago

      The thing with Nexus and Pixel is that it’s really easy to flash any image from their public developer website

      [url<]https://developers.google.com/android/images[/url<] So even if you only have 1 pixel in your device inventory, it's pretty easy for a QA tester to flash the preview, do a test pass, and roll back to the latest stable public version or any previous version of their choosing. You don't leave it in a drawer waiting for a preview, you have it in constant use on a stable public release, and flash dev previews as they come to be proactive. At my previous place of employment, I would flash each developer preview as they came out and pass that device around through each project on the floor to make sure things were ready for new OS launches.

      • MrDweezil
      • 2 years ago

      Developer here. Our test phone pool includes some Pixels we could use to test the latest OS updates, but even if we didn’t the updated emulator images are good enough.

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 2 years ago

      Companies usually have spare phones laying around as test devices. I don’t expect the average home dev will have spare.

    • Laykun
    • 2 years ago

    Come on Samsung, I don’t even have Oreo on my note 8 yet and the preview of the next os is already out 🙁

      • DancinJack
      • 2 years ago

      Well, you bought a Samsung device. What did you expect?

      • dodozoid
      • 2 years ago

      Seconded.
      Samsung should realy get their shit together.
      I mean it’s really getting embarrassing.
      I knew what I was buying into, though no one else had stilus inside reasonably sized device and the screen is just amazing. But Samsungs inability to write good system (meaning NOT writing one it the first place) or even keep their crappy system up to date is astounding.

        • Peldor
        • 2 years ago

        With Oreo at a colossal 1.1% of Android devices as of the last report (Feb. 5), basically nobody has their **** together. But by this time next year, almost 25% of the user base will have Oreo! Of course, only ~1% will have Android P by then.

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