Android P: Everything you need to know about Google’s next Android update

Google announced Android P during its I/O 2018 Developer Conference keynote on May 8, 2018. Here’s everything we know about the next flavour of Android, including all the most exciting new Android P features, compatible Android P devices devices and instructions on how to download the Android P beta today.


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Android P name – what will it be called? 

Big G is referring to Android P as Pistachio Ice Cream, according to recent reports. That isn’t a bad moniker, but it’s nothing more than an internal codename the firm is using – our money’s on either Pancake, Parfait, Pavlova, Peanut Brittle, Pecan Pie, Peppermint or Popsicle or Pop-Tart for the final name.

Or Panna Cotta, Peanut Butter, Peda, Pez, Pie, Pineapple, Pumpkin Pie, Popover Praline, Pandoro or Poached Pear.

The (sweet, sweet) possibilities are endless.

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Android P features – what’s new in Android P? 

Android P, as we saw in the Developer Preview, bundles a slew of much-requested new features. Highlights include more refined notifications, indoor positioning for Google Maps – thanks to support for a new Wi-Fi protocol known as Wi-Fi RTT – and an editor that lets you doodle on screenshots as soon as they’re taken.

A look at Android P’s refreshed notifications

The most notable addition, however, is support for devices that feature a notch at the top of the screen. The notch is often used to house vital components such as the front-facing camera. The functionality is rumoured to be a first step towards introducing support for devices with foldable screens (think: Galaxy X).

“Android P offers support for the latest edge-to-edge screens with a cut-out for the camera and speaker,” explains Google in an article announcing the Preview on the Android Developer Blog. “The new DisplayCutout class lets you find out the location and shape of the non-functional areas where content shouldn’t be displayed.”

Android P comes with various options for developers to simulate the notch

The firm then went on to add that the first Developer Preview also introduced a Multi-Camera API, which grants developers access to camera setups with more than one sensor. The idea here is to provide developers with the tools they need to create applications that grant users greater control over their pictures.

You can now access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras on devices running Android P. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features that aren’t possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision.

The final build of Android P will include a number of other features, some of which are baked into the Android P Beta (more on that in a bit). They can be filtered into three categories, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Digital Wellbeing, Intelligence and Simplicity. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new:

  • Adaptive Applications, Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness – Android P uses AI to optimise core system features, throttling applications that drain power when you’re not using them, altering the brightness when it sees fit, and surfacing applications when it thinks you’ll need to use them.
  • App Actions and Slices – Android P introduces two ambitious UI changes: Actions and Slices. The former is analogous to Actions on Google Assistant, while the latter is a subset that can surface core features from an application when conducting a device-wide search (demonstrated below).

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  • Digital Wellbeing – There’s a Dashboard application baked into Android P that lets you monitor your usage and set restrictions. You can, for example, tell it to restrict access to Netflix after using it for two hours. Or even to strip colour from your handset after a specific time to encourage you to put it down.
  • Do Not Disturb (DND) – Do Not Disturb is far more aggressive in Android P. When enabled, notifications will now disappear altogether. The only way an alert will come through is if triggered by a starred contact, and even then it’s restricted to a phone call – no text messages.

  • Navigation – Google has done away with the standard on-screen navigation buttons in Android P, in favour of a lone Home button that relies on multitasking to navigate. Sliding the Home button to the right lets you cycle through recent applications. Here’s the low-down:
    • Tap – Skip to Home screen
    • Long press – Launch Google Assistant
    • Half swipe up – Launch Overview
    • Full swipe up – Go to App Drawer
    • Slide to the right – Scroll through Recent Apps
    • Back button (only appears inside applications – Jump back
  • Overview – There’s a new Overview screen baked into Android P that’s essentially a multitasking hub. There’s a Search bar at the top and a row of predictive applications at the bottom, generated using the aforementioned Adaptive Applications algorithm.

Android P should also be a lot more secure than previous builds of Android, and that’s because Google will force manufacturers to distribute the latest Security Maintenance Releases (SMRs), an update consisting of patches designed to mitigate against new-found vulnerabilities, to their handsets every month.

“We’ve also worked on building security patching into our OEM agreements,” said Vice President of Android Security David Kleidermacher during a presentation at Google I/O on May 10. “Now this will really lead to a massive increase in the number of devices and users receiving regular security patches.”

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Android P release date – when will it be released? 

That’s a good question. The first Developer Preview of Android P went live last month and the Android P Beta, which is available to the general public, launched after Google’s I/O 2018 Keynote on May 8. There’s no official word as yet on when the final release will debut, although some analysts believe it will arrive in August.

Android P devices – how to download Android P today 

The Android P Beta is available to download right now on the Essential Phone PH-1, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 2 XL, Nokia 7 Plus, OnePlus 6, Oppo R15 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ2, Vivo X2 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S.

Here’s a preliminary list of smartphones confirmed to receive the final Android P – also known as Android 9.0 – update. Alternatively, scroll down for step-by-step Android P install instructions.

Essential

  • Essential Phone PH-1

Google

  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel

Huawei

  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Huawei P20
  • Huawei P10
  • Huawei Mate 10
  • Huawei Mate 9

LG

  • LG G7
  • LG G6
  • LG V30S ThinQ
  • LV V30
  • LG V20

Motorola

Every Motorola smartphone released in 2017 and 2018 will receive the Android P update.

OnePlus

  • OnePlus 6
  • OnePlus 5T
  • OnePlus 5

Samsung

  • Galaxy S9 Plus
  • Galaxy S9
  • Galaxy S8 Plus
  • Galaxy S8
  • Galaxy Note 8

The easiest way to install and stay updated with the latest version of Android P is to enrol in the Android Beta Program. This is currently available for the range of Pixel devices, but further devices will be joining the list soon.

Just follow these simple steps to download Android P today on compatible devices.

  1. First you’ll need to follow this link – Join the Android Beta Program –  and sign in with the Google account you run on your phone.
  2. Scroll down and find the device you own and tap the ‘Opt-in’ button.
  3. Give it a few minutes and a prompt should appear in the notification panel. Tap this and it will begin to download and install.

How to downgrade from Android P to Android Oreo

Once you’ve installed Android P on your device, it is possible to roll everything back if you’re not finding the software stable enough. Although simple, you’ll have to completely wipe the device – so remember to back up.

  1. From the Android Beta Portal page, there should now be an ‘Opt-out’ option that has replaced the ‘Opt-in’
  2. Click this and another OTA download should appear, rolling you back to the latest version of Android Oreo.

A full release of Android P should arrive later in the year, hopefully with a tasty name.

What feature are you hoping to see baked into Android P? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter @TrustedReviews.