10 May 2018
At the ongoing Google I/O 2018, Google took the platform to announce what is new for Android which we will be seeing once the next version Android P becomes public. As we have seen with Google in recent years, the focus remains on the incorporation of artificial intelligence to help get things done smarty.
Google started talking about Android P by mentioning that the new Android is getting more adaptive to users. It revealed two new features called Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness. The first feature will simply limit battery usage for infrequently used apps during battery when the battery saver triggers in. It should help you get more from the remaining juice. As for the second feature, it will automatically adjust the display brightness depending on your preferences and surrounding.
Google is further making it easier for users to accomplish certain tasks with particular apps. It announced App Actions which are basically predictive suggestions which Android believes you are likely to do next. This is a UI-related feature and these actions will be visible in the app drawer and is an extension of predicting which app(s) you are likely to open next. Similarly, there are Slices which allow you to go even deeper in apps but without having to open them. You can simply search for a compatible app and within search results, you will see "Slices" helping you jump straight to that particular feature of that app.
For developers, Google launched ML Kit which is basically a set of cross-platform APIs to help devs integrate various machine learning-based functionalities within their apps. It can be used for adding capabilities like face detection, text recognition, image labeling, landmark detection, barcode scanning, and smart replies.
Android P will also bring some significant changes to the UI and improve the way users interact with apps and Android itself. The biggest change is the introduction of horizontal app switcher where you will get to see a full-screen preview of each app. There is even a new way of accessing the app switcher which is by swiping up on Home button. This gesture will work from everywhere regardless of the app you are using. And if you will swipe up one more time, it will give you access to the app drawer. As for moving between apps, you can either swipe left/right or simply use the scrubber at the bottom right corner. Lastly, Google has added Smart Text Selection to the recent apps (Overview) interface itself.
Other UI-related changes include a new volume control slider which is now vertically aligned on the right side instead of being horizontally aligned at the top. Google has now also set media volume as the default volume control which is a major change from earlier used ringer volume as default.
While most of these features are about helping you get things done smartly and easily on Android, Google announced a completely new feature aimed at helping users find a fine balance between their real-world life and technology. It unveiled a new feature called Dashboard which will basically show users insights about their smartphone usage. This includes data related to the number of times smartphone has been unlocked, the number of notifications received, the total amount of time spent on the phone, and time spent on particular apps. And if that's not enough, it also has App Timer to set a time limit for each app's usage so that you don't overuse any of the apps.
The third addition to this new start from Google is called Wind Down mode. It is aimed at ensuring that you get to bed as per your plan instead of continuing using the smartphone and eventually procrastinating the sleep. Once you have set the "wind down" time, Google will automatically trigger the Night Light mode (dark mode) making everything look greyscale. It will also trigger Do Not Disturb (DND) mode so that you can sleep in peace. Lastly, DND mode has been made better as it now stops visual interruptions like notification pop-ups too. It can now be triggered by simply turning your phone over on the table.
To wrap things up, Google officially announced the availability of Android P Beta where interested buyers can get the latest beta as an OTA update. While Android beta program has previously been limited to Pixel and Nexus devices, it has now been expanded to selected flagships from other OEMs. These include the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1.