Each year we see a new version of Android launched with a varying number of tweaks to it, for many people they will never see a working version of this OS until they buy a new phone the following year. Last years Oreo update has still not been pushed too many flagship devices for various reasons, with carriers being particularly bad at updating. The final versions of Android P will likely land on the latest Pixel phone first, but with the popularity of Android One, we should see it roll out to phones like the Nokia, Xiaomi, and Moto quite quickly.
Anyway, at the Google I/O yesterday we say some of the latest features to land on Android.
Poor battery is the bane of mine, and many others lives. Google knows this and is trying to improve things. The new adaptive battery feature is a new application wakeup management framework that is aimed at improving idle battery life through limiting application wakeups. The mechanism creates application standby “buckets” in which it groups applications based on usage history of the given user. Often used applications will be put in the highest priority buckets which aren’t limited in terms of background usage. Lower tiers of buckets further limit the rate at which applications are allowed to wake up through jobs, alarms or network activity. Google states that this new mechanism allows for up to 30% less CPU application wakeups which will translate directly into better idle battery life.
Another attempt to improve battery life, this works on top of the normal automatic brightness Android uses. This system will track when you alter the brightness and learning your behaviours then apply AI to adjust the screen automatically based on your preferences.
Android actions are like advanced app shortcuts, so rather than loading up the main screen on the app, you could launch a specific page or event. For example, you could automatically start a bike ride in Strava
Implementations of actions can be for example be brought up in various places such as the results of a search; the action takes into account the search parameter and will be able to show a relevant activity for the action’s application.
Slices provide app-specific data outside of the app itself. This is to allow you to see valuable information from an app without being in it.
Slices can be used in a similar way actions were in the previous search example, only this time around they provide a variety of options regarding delivering content to the user. So for example when you search for Lyft in Google, it can show relevant data from the app such as the closes driver or cost approximation of specific destinations
Google has implemented a new way to navigate open apps and multi-task. Many people are comparing it to Apple, though it is not dissimilar to WebOS
DND and App Timers
Google wants to help reduce our digital anxiety, and the new Android P has some useful features to do this. The DND mode will now enable automatically when you put the phone face down, only allowing whitelisted contacts through.
Then there is an app timer which will prompt the user a warning once he exceeds the application time over a day and will grey out the app to discourage further usage.
Wind down is a functionality that allows setting a “bedtime” after which the phone will switch to black & white mode which reduces visual stimulus in the evening and is meant to help with sleep.
Other features that we already knew about included:
- Indoor Positioning with WiFi RTT – RTT enables devices to measure the time between a smartphone sending a data-packet and ACK to the access point and back. Using 3 or more APs Google can triangulate your position.
- Notches – Android will now have built-in features to handle notches.
- Notification Styles and Quick Settings – general tweaks to the notification areas, but also applications will be able to show a greater level of feature-rich content