After months of speculation, Android P is finally here. Well, to be clear, the first developer preview of Google’s newest mobile operating system is now available to download, not the stable release.
So what you can you expect from the latest version of Android? On this page we’ll run through all the standout new features in the developers’ build and, because it’s still in its earliest stages of testing, what you can expect to see when the OS eventually reaches your phone.
If you want to be among the first to get your hands on Android P, you can sign up to be an Android beta tester. But, as Google warns, these builds are liable to breaking, so you should only install it if you know what you’re doing, and never on your day-to-day phone.
Android P: The notch is confirmed
As first predicted by Bloomberg, Google has now confirmed that Android P will support an iPhone X-style “notch” or display cutout.We saw a number of new Android phones, including the Asus ZenFone 5Z, at MWC featuring cut outs, so at this stage it seems Google is catering to these third-party manufacturers rather than necessarily planning an iPhone-X style notch for its own Pixel devices. Personally, I’d also like to think that Google is better than copying an Apple feature that’s more about style than function.
Android P: Better notifications
Elsewhere, Android P features new, improved messaging notifications. More specifically, you’ll be able to see images you’ve been sent and previous messages in a conversation directly from the notification draw, and you can also send photos and stickers without needing to open an app.
Among other refinements, replies you send from the notification drawer will also be saved as drafts in the appropriate app should you inadvertently close the notification. Like everything on this page, any of these refinements could be lost or change in due course, as successive developer versions of Android P are released.
Android P: Dual camera support
Because so many phones now feature dual cameras, Android P also comes with dual camera support baked in. A new API lets apps “access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras”, explains the Android developers blog.
“On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision,” explains the blog. “We’re looking forward to seeing your new and exciting creations as Android P devices supporting multiple cameras reach the market in the year ahead.”
Android P: Security, privacy and performance improvements
Along with a host of other back-end refinements, which you can read about on the Android Developers Blog, Google has announced that Android P will strengthen Android’s foundations, “continuing our long-term investment to make Android the best platform for developers”. With this in mind, there are boosts to security, privacy, performance and power efficiency. In particular, “Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all…sensors from apps that are idle,” to ensure better privacy, explains Google.
Android P: Release date
As we thought, the developer version of Android P has been released in March, so we still expect to see the full stable version appear some time in August. Although Google has promised to tackle fragmentation, where different manufacturers roll out updates at different times, when you get Android P will still largely depend on which device you have. Unfortunately this means only Pixel users are likely to see Android P the day it’s released by Google.
Android P: Still no news on a name
Google is slowly making its way down the dessert-themed alphabet, and the name of the next sweet, tasty Android OS, known until now as Android P, may have already leaked. According to a report from Android Open Source Project, Android P might be called Android Pi, according to the Android Open Source Project. However, there’s still no official confirmation of the name and the last time we were confident about an Android name, when “Key Lime Pie” was “leaked” internally, it ended up being called KitKat. Still, this doesn’t mean the company won’t opt for something pie-related, seeing as Google has never used the word pie in an Android OS name in the past.