Android P Release Date, First Impressions And News - Techies Updates

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Android P Release Date, First Impressions And News

Android P Developer Preview 2 is expected to launch today

Google's Android P update is one step closer to launching now that Google IO 2018 is underway and the keynote should give us more clues about its features.

We're expected Android P Developer Preview 2 to launch, as Google's official release date timeline calls for an early May timetable for the next beta software update.

The first version of its operating system upgrade is now available for developers as well as those curious enough to check out some unfinished software.

It builds on 2017's Android Oreo update by focusing on overhauling the visual design than how it works. Of course, Google is bound to still make countless more changes and improvements in the coming months.

Looking to download Android P for yourself? You'll need one of four phones currently supported: the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2 or Google Pixel 2 XL. More devices will support the software shortly after its final release, like the Google Pixel 3, but if you want beta access, going Google is the only option.

We'll add new information to this article as we hear it, including what the Android P name could stand for, but while we wait for more official info, we’ve also come up with a list of things we want from Android P – because as good as Android Oreo is there’s always room for more improvement.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next version of Android
  • When is it out? Probably August 2018
  • How much will it cost? It will be a free update
  • Android P release date

Google brought out the first developer preview of Android P in early March 2018, and we expect to see Developer Preview 2 at the Google IO keynote.

The cadence of beta updates will pick up, according to Google's vague release date timeline, with the final version of the software due to launch in August 2018, one year after Android Oreo landed.

Of course, it will be available first for the Google phones listed above, but it will also likely make its retail debut in the Google Pixel 3 nearing the year's end.

Android P news

As we get closer to the release of Android P, some new features are starting to pop up. Recently, a feature cropped up that will let Android P remember the preferred volume that you use in your Bluetooth devices.

This small, but important feature will make certain that your music or podcasts are played neither too loud or quietly.

Android P first impressions

After the trial and error that always comes with the delicate process of flashing a smartphone, we finally have Android P loaded onto a Google Pixel XL. It didn't take long for us to notice a few small, but appreciable tweaks to the visuals from the initial setup screen.

The text is sharper, there's generally more color in the menus, transition animations have been touched up, and some stuff has been moved around. It looks and feels fresh, even in this very early software build.

Looking for the time? It's now on the top left corner of the screen. App notification icons pile next to it, which could get dicey if A.) you use a lot of apps, or B.) your next Android phone has a notch (Google has planned ahead for this, thankfully.) 

The Pixel Launcher now has a rounded-off edge, matching the look of notification windows that you see when you wake up your phone. This is obviously a minor touch, but it plays into the overall look that Google is going for with P. 

You'll have to squint to notice this welcome improvement

Ambient Display has been overhauled, at least compared to what came before it on Pixel XL and what currently exists on the latest Pixel 2 XL Oreo software. The date and day of the week no longer display underneath the time, but it still displays app notification icons. 

The biggest change here is that down at the screen's bottom, it displays the battery percentage so that you don't have to wake it to know whether you need to plug in or not. We look forward to Google making more updates to Ambient Display as the dev preview continues.

Buried in the display settings, the preview allows developers, and by extension, us and anyone else who installs the preview, to simulate a notch on their phones. Offering three different notch options, Google lets developers test their apps using a hypothetical notch before more devices with the feature release, which will inevitably happen. I'm sure some people will leave this feature on for fun, but it looks pretty silly on the Pixel XL's humongous bezels. Plus, seeing app notifications hiding because there's no more space? Not so much fun at all, really.

We're still digging around Android P and will be installing new updates as they come, so stay tuned.

What we want to see

Android is in quite a polished state by this point, but there are always improvements that can be made, such as the following things.

1. Wider, faster availability

Android has long had a fragmentation problem, with many devices stuck on very old versions and even those which will ultimately get the latest release often taking many months to do so.

With Android P we’d like to see Google push to get the update on more devices, faster. This is largely in the hands of manufacturers, but Google might be able to do something to help.

In fact, Google is already working on this somewhat with Project Treble, a feature which should mean it’s less work for manufacturers to update their devices.

It remains to be seen how much difference that will make, but we’re sure there’s more that could be done in any case.

2. Movable search bar and date widgets

One of the things we typically praise about stock Android is that it’s free of bloat, but that can also mean it’s light on features, such as the ability to move the search bar and date widget.

They are currently glued to the bottom and top of the home screen respectively in the stock version of Android Oreo.

Most people will probably be happy with that, but we’d like the ability to move them anywhere on the screen with Android P, like you can with most widgets.

3. More customization

On a related not, we’d love to see more customization potential in general with Android P.

Some third-party launchers let you customize gestures, screen transitions and the like, but for the most part what you see is what you get with Android Oreo.

There’s nothing stopping you switching the stock launcher for a third-party one to gain those options, but then you lose the Oreo look and feel, so for Android P we want more customization built-in.

4. Make the Pixel Launcher available on all devices

Pixel Launcher is a slick take on Android that we want to see on more devices

While your device may get Android Oreo, it probably won’t get it as Google intended unless it’s a Pixel phone, so we’d like to see the Pixel Launcher made available for third-party handsets too, so users can choose between Google’s take on Android and that of their device’s manufacturer.

The Pixel Launcher is actually available on Google Play, but only for Google’s own devices, so with Android P we’d like to see its availability and compatibility widened.

5. Feature parity

Even once you get a new version of Android on your device, you won’t necessarily get all the features straight away.

For example, Google Assistant took a while to arrive on many devices even once they had Android Nougat, and Google Lens doesn’t come as part of the core Android Oreo update.

With Android P we’d like to see any and all features, especially big ones like those above, be made available for all devices running the software and to come as part of the core Android P update.

6. Picture-in-picture for every app

Picture-in-picture is handy, but only works with a few apps

Picture-in-picture is one of the big new features of Android Oreo, but it’s actually quite limited, with many apps not supporting it.

That may well change over time, but if it’s not fixed as part of Oreo we want to see it available for most or all video apps as part of Android P.

7. A focus on tablets

While Android is great on phones, there’s a sense that less focus has been put on the tablet experience in recent years, and that’s all the more noticeable now that Apple has launched the tablet-focused iOS 11.

Google could learn from this, and we’d like to see it add the likes of system-wide drag-and-drop and more native tablet apps with Android P. Bringing Google Assistant to tablets wouldn’t hurt either.

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