Android P brings AI-powered convenience and a simplified interface

Today at Google I/O 2018, the company revealed the latest version of Android. There's no fancy dessert-based name for it yet, so Google is simply calling it Android P. Like the rest of Google's announcements today, the new version of Android has a heavy emphasis on making use of deep learning—both in Google's datacenters and in your phone.

Probably the most exciting new feature coming in Android P is one that Google calls Adaptive Battery. Essentially, along with its sibling Deepmind (in Google's parent company Alphabet), the company used deep learning to formulate an algorithm that will enable Android devices to more accurately assign tasks to the slower or faster cores inside their SoCs. Along similar lines, Google says Adaptive Brightness will take into account your tendencies when adjusting brightness to more reliably set it at a level you prefer throughout the day and across different environments.

App Actions can pop up over other apps.

App Actions is an automatic feature that once again makes use of AI to accurately predict your next action. The company gives the example of a user plugging in headphones and being greeted by a prompt to resume a Spotify playlist. The company says that actions will show up "throughout Android" and are easy for developers to implement. Slices is a similar idea in principle, but instead of presenting a simple action, the Slices API allows an app to bring up a part of itself inside another app. For example, when searching for Lyft, you might see a Slice that shows you the price and travel time for trips you commonly make. You could then tap the Slice to quickly order the ride without having to open the Lyft app separately.

Along with integrating AI- and deep learning-powered features, Google says it put a "special emphasis on simplicity" in Android P. The task switcher button is gone, replaced with a new Overview feature that you access by swiping up from the home button. The company says that you can now select text and perform actions like copying and pasting directly in Overview mode. Android P also includes a new way to take screenshots and revises the Quick Settings drawer, volume controls, and notification management.

Google talked a fair bit at I/O about "digital wellbeing," or in other words, curtailing the influence of your phone on moments of your life when it can become a nuisance. As pertains to Android P, that translates to a few new features: Dashboard, App Timer, and Wind Down. The Dashboard feature will allow you to see detailed metrics about your app usage, screen unlocks, and number of notifications. The App Timer feature lets you limit your usage of any particular app, and the Wind Down feature will switch on Night Light, put the screen in grayscale mode, and set the phone to Do Not Disturb at your chosen bedtime. Android P can also enable Do Not Disturb anytime you set the phone face-down.

As usual with new Android releases, it may be a bit before you get the latest version. However, there's an Android P Beta available today to users of the Google Pixel phones, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. The rest of us will have to wait until our manufacturer or carrier get the update out to handsets.

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