Google has just finished its keynote at Google I/O and we have a ton of new things to cover. We are especially excited about the new Android P Developer Preview 2 which brings a number of new features and UI changes to the most popular mobile operating system in the world. We have already covered many Android P features in one of our previous articles which was published when the Android P Developer Preview 1 was launched, so we are not going to cover them here. However, even after excluding those features, there’s a lot that we need to get through, so let’s just get started. Here are all the features that Google introduced with the Android P Developer Preview 2:
All the Android P Features
With the Developer Preview 2 of Android P, Google is focusing mainly on three areas which the company is calling as Intelligence, Simplicity, and Digital Wellbeing. In this article, we are going to cover all these sections along with UI changes and other hidden features that we found while testing the Android P.
Intelligent Features in Android P
1. Adaptive Battery
With the Developer Preview 2 of Android P, Google is using AI to extend the battery life that you get on your smartphone. Dubbed as the Adaptive Battery, the new initiative uses DeepMind technology to prioritize battery power only for the apps and services you use the most while shutting power access to the apps that you don’t use on a regular basis. This means that the less important apps will no longer hog all the juice, thereby allowing you to squeeze the most out of your smartphone’s battery.
2. Adaptive Brightness
Another area where Google is using AI to enhance user experience is the display. With the AI, your smartphone will not only take into the ambient lighting into account but also your preferences as to how you like to set the brightness slider given your surroundings. Once your smartphone learns your pattern, it will automatically change the brightness of your smartphone’s display to match your preferences.
3. App Actions
Another new feature that Google is introducing with the new Android P Developer Preview 2 is called App Actions. App Actions will take advantage of AI to figure out your next actions based on your previous usage pattern and give you smart suggestions based on it. For example, once you connect your headphones to your smartphone, Google will know which playlist you like the most and will suggest that you play it. The best part about App Actions is that it is integrated everywhere inside Android P including in places like the Launcher, Smart Text Selection, the Play Store, the Google Search app, and the Assistant.
App Slices are probably one of my most favorite features of Android P. Just like the App Actions, Slices help you get things done faster and more efficiently. However, the benefit of Slices is that it can give you even deeper look into your favorite apps. For example, when you search for Lyft on your smartphone, the Slices will directly give you the option to book a cab for your saved locations like Home or Work and will even show you the prices, right there in the search field itself.
5. Faster Notification Management System
Google already brought a ton of improvements to the Android notifications management system with Developer Preview 1 of Android P. Now, the company is taking it to the next level by integrating AI into it. For example, if the AI sees that you tend to swipe away notifications from certain apps without interacting with it, it will give you an option to mute notifications from that app right inside the app notification itself.
Google also wants to simplify how users interact with Android and to do that it has integrated a ton of new gestures in the Developer Preview 2 of Android P. You can enable the gesture mode by going to Settings -> System -> Gestures -> Swipe up on Home button and enable it. Once you do that you will see that your normal navigation buttons have been replaced a Pill icon.
To navigate your interface using the Pill icon you get gestures. Tapping on the Pill icon will take you home, swiping up will enable multitasking view, a longer swipe up will open the app drawer, swiping right on the home button will help you switch between recent apps, and a quick swipe to right will switch to the most recent app. In places where you need to go back (for example, inside an app), you will be provided with the back button at the left of the Pill icon.
Digital Wellbeing Features
The last facet of the Android P Developer Preview 2 is something which focuses on the digital wellbeing of users. Google is trying to do that by first giving users an overview of their smartphone usage and then allowing them to restrict their smartphone usage by giving them a number of user control features.
1. Android Dashboard
The Android Dashboard that is coming with the Developer Preview 2 of Android P will allow users to get a greater understanding of how they use their smartphone. The Android Dashboard shows you how you’re spending time on your device including time spent on apps, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received. The dashboard also breaks down user data on per app basis allowing you to understand which apps take most of your attention. Knowing your usage pattern is the first step in solving the smartphone addiction which we are facing today.
2. App Timer
The second step is to do something about it and the App Timer helps you in that. The feature basically lets users set time limits on apps, and nudges them when they are close to their limit. It will also gray out the app icons after the time limit expires to remind users of their goal. I wish that Google also included a lockdown function for users who don’t have the self-control to stop using an app by just looking at the gray icon, however, this is a step in the right direction.
3. New Do Not Disturb Mode
To stop users from constantly checking their smartphone and allowing them to be present more in the moment, Google introduced a ton of features inside the Do Not Disturb mode. The new Do Not Disturb mode silences not just the phone calls and notifications, but also all the visual interruptions that pop up on your screen. Which means that no matter the type of notification you are getting, your smartphone will neither ring and vibrate nor will light up to give you any visual cue.
4. Shush Mode
To make it easier for users to enable the new Do Not Disturb mode, Google has introduced a new gesture. Just turn your phone over on the table and it will automatically enter the Do Not Disturb mode so you can focus on being present. That is a crazy simple gesture to enable the new Do Not Disturb mode and probably one of the best features of the Android P.
5. Wind Down
Another new feature that Google introduced for Digital Wellbeing of users is the Wind Down mode which is a time-based command given to your smartphone. You can set it by simply asking your Google Assistant. Once the Wind Down command is triggered at your set time, your smartphone will switch on Night Light, turn on Do Not Disturb, and fade the screen to grayscale to help you remember that it’s time to get some sleep.
6. Starred Contacts
All these Digital Wellbeing features are good, however, sometimes there are people who might need to contact you in case of emergencies. Thankfully, Google understands that and allows you to enable starred contacts which will allow your priority contacts to bypass the Do Not Disturb mode and contact you. You can also set it up for repeat callers which means that if a person is repeatedly calling you, his/her call will get through. This is a very important feature as it allows users to enable Do Not Disturb mode without the fear of losing contact with important people in their lives.
Android P UI Changes
Other than the above mentioned three categories, Google also introduced a ton of other changes which we are going to cover in this and the next sections. This section is devoted to covering the UI changes that are coming with the new Android P Developer Preview 2:
1. Return of the Paginated Quick Settings Panel
If you read our article about the Android P Developer Preview 1 features, you will know that Google removed the paginated quick settings panel and made it a scrolling list. However, with the Developer Preview 2 of Android P, Google has returned the paginated quick settings panel.
2. New Volume Menu
Google also made some aesthetic changes to the Volume Menu which it introduced with the Developer Preview 1 of Android P. The newer menu looks cleaner as it has now gotten a slimmer profile and takes up less space on the display. There’s also a new action which allows you to easily enable either the mute or the vibrate profile without even having to unlock your phone.
To enable this action, first, go to Settings > Sound > Shortcut to prevent ringing and select whether you want to enable vibrate or mute mode. Once you have done that, hitting the power and volume up key will enable it regardless of which screen you are on. The feature even works when your smartphone is locked which is great.
3. New Homescreen Rotation Toggle
One of the niftiest features introduced with the Developer Preview 1 of Android P was the rotation toggle which allowed users to change their phone’s orientation by hitting a button which appears when they rotate their phone. Now, that feature has been given extra powers. Previously, the feature only worked if a user rotated the smartphone while inside an app, however, now it works even on the home screen.
4. New Long Press Home Screen Menu
The Developer Preview 2 of Android P is also bringing a new long press home screen menu which looks similar to the power and volume menu. Now when a user long presses on the home screen, it will show a popup menu instead of the home screen fading back, which used to happen in the earlier versions. That said, the actions which a user can perform remain the same.
5. New Lock Screen Look
With the Developer Preview 2 of Android P, even the Android’s lock screen is getting some love form Google. Previously, if a user unlocked their smartphone using the PIN, password, or pattern lock, the lock screen didn’t show anything other than the required fields. Now, the smartphone also shows the lock screen clock on the unlock screen.
6. New Calling UI
The Developer Preview 2 of Android P is also bringing changes to the calling UI. Now the call receiving widget at the top looks more blocky with more pronounced Answer and Decline buttons. Also, when you accept a call, hitting the volume button brings the option to change call volume along with the default media volume which is a really nice touch.
Other than bringing updates to the Android OS as a whole, Google is also bringing various app-specific changes which we are going to discuss in this section:
1. Google Maps
Google introduced a ton of new features for the Google Maps which will be rolled out in the coming months. The features include “Augmented Reality Directions” which will match the view from your camera to the saved Street View imagery and help you figure out where you want to go, “Suggested Places” which uses the power of machine learning to automatically match you with new places and venues around town, “Group Planning” which will lets you create shareable short links making it easier to coordinate plans with friends, and “For You” tab which will offer a customized view of trending places in areas near you or the ones you choose to view.
2. Google Assistant
Other Google app which is getting a major overhaul is the Google Assistant. With the new update, the Google Assistant is not only getting 6 new voices along with a promise of 7th voice featuring none other than John Legend but it is also bringing new features including “Continued Conversation” which forgoes the need of calling Hey Google again and again, “Multiple Actions” which allows users to ask complex queries involving multiple questions, “Pretty Please” which is designed to teach kids to be kind and respectful, “Custom Routines” that allows users to do multiple things with a single command, and “New Experiences” which focuses on providing better visual cues for your queries.
There is one more feature called Google Duplex which was probably the biggest surprise of the whole Google I/O. The feature will empower your Google Assistant to make calls on your behalf in the background and make certain bookings and reservations. Mr. Sundar Pichai showed a demo at the keynote and it was nothing sort of mind-boggling. That said, the feature is far from being ready for primetime and will take a few years before it is perfected.
3. Google Photos
Google Photos is already my favorite photos management app and with the new update Google is making it even better. The new update will bring features like “Suggested Actions” which will automatically give you the options to quickly choose a setting, action, or edit for the image and “Smart Edits” which will suggest necessary edits to stylize and adjust your images along various parameters including brightness, color temperature, and file types.
4. Google Lens
The last app which is getting a major update is the Google Lens. My favorite new feature of Google Lens is the “Smart Text Selection” which allows users to extract and copy text from physical objects using just your smartphone’s camera. Other features include “Style Match” which lets you point your smartphone’s camera at any object and find other objects that resemble it and “Real-Time Results” which allows you to point your camera at anything and get more information about it in real-time.
Android P Features: Which One is Your Favorite?
I am not using any hyperbole when I say that I was blown away by the Google I/O. There are just so many features to be excited about that I don’t know where to start. If you like what you read here and your device supports the Android P Developer Preview 2, install it and let us know your favorite Android P features by commenting below.