An­droid P

Google’s first pre­view of An­droid P brings sup­port for notched dis­plays and in­door lo­ca­tion ser­vices, writes MICHAEL SI­MON

Android Advisor - - Con­tents -

The first de­vel­oper pre­view of An­droid P has ar­rived, and with it Google is ready to show off the next phase of its mo­bile vi­sion. And notches are all the rage. As pre­vi­ously ru­moured, it will in­tro­duce dis­play cutout sup­port for An­droid apps,

let­ting de­vel­op­ers “take full ad­van­tage of the lat­est de­vice screens with full-screen con­tent”. And it’s not just the sta­tus bar and home screen that will get the sup­port. Google is ex­pand­ing sup­port for notched dis­plays into all ar­eas of An­droid P, in­clud­ing APIs so de­vel­op­ers can get cre­ative with their apps.

Ac­cord­ing to Google, “Cutout sup­port works seam­lessly for apps, with the sys­tem man­ag­ing sta­tus bar height to sep­a­rate your con­tent from the cutout. If you have crit­i­cal, im­mer­sive con­tent, you can also use new APIs to check the cutout shape and re­quest full-screen lay­out around it.”

Notch sup­port

Get ready for notches. While the first phone with a notch was tech­ni­cally Andy Ru­bin’s Es­sen­tial Phone, Ap­ple main­streamed the look with its bezel-less iPhone X. After we saw a flurry of notched phones re­leased and ru­moured dur­ing MWC this year, how­ever, it’s clear that it will be­come a trend in 2018 and be­yond. And with An­droid P, Google wants to en­sure users are get­ting the best pos­si­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

With sup­port baked deep into the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, phone mak­ers and app de­vel­op­ers will ac­tu­ally use the full screen to their ad­van­tage, cre­at­ing con­tent that fits cor­rectly and us­ing the notch to add cre­ative con­trols and data. So maybe we won’t hate them so much.

Mov­ing pic­tures ahead

Along with notch sup­port, Google is also ready­ing An­droid for the next gen­er­a­tion of pho­tos and videos. Ver­sion P brings sup­port for HDR VP9 Pro­file 2, so

app de­vel­op­ers will be able to de­liver HDR-en­abled movies from YouTube, Google Play, and other sources on HDR-ca­pa­ble de­vices. Sev­eral pre­mium An­droid phones are al­ready ca­pa­ble of re­ceiv­ing HDR10 and Dolby Vi­sion con­tent, in­clud­ing the Sam­sung Galaxy S9, LG V30, and Pixel 2, and An­droid P will only ac­cel­er­ate the avail­abil­ity of con­tent.

Google is also adding High Ef­fi­ciency Image For­mat (HEIF) image for­mat en­cod­ing into An­droid P. De­vel­op­ers will be able to take ad­van­tage of the com­pres­sion and stor­age ben­e­fits of HEIF by of­fer­ing the pop­u­lar for­mat as an op­tion in their apps.

Ad­di­tion­ally, An­droid P will em­brace dual-cam­era sys­tems, let­ting third-party cam­era apps “ac­cess streams si­mul­ta­ne­ously from two or more phys­i­cal cam­eras on de­vices run­ning An­droid P”. That means

de­vel­op­ers will be able to do more with the se­cond lens on dual-cam­era de­vices, let­ting them get cre­ative with por­traits, black-and-white, wide-an­gle shots, and any­thing else the sec­ondary cam­era pro­vides.

No­ti­fi­ca­tions, map­ping, and more

It wouldn’t be a new ver­sion of An­droid with­out changes to the no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, and Google has “put a pri­or­ity on im­prov­ing vis­i­bil­ity and func­tion in no­ti­fi­ca­tions” in An­droid P. Mes­sag­ing alerts should be­come more dy­namic, high­light­ing who is send­ing a mes­sage and how to re­ply, as well as dis­play­ing full con­ver­sa­tions, and let­ting you at­tach pho­tos and stick­ers, all with­out open­ing the app.

An­droid P will also bring sup­port for the IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi pro­to­col (or Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time), so apps will be able to bring lo­ca­tion ser­vices in­door where GPS might be spotty. With An­droid P, apps

will be able to cal­cu­late the de­vice po­si­tion with an ac­cu­racy of 1- to 2m, Google says. That kind of ac­cu­rate in­door po­si­tion­ing will help apps with in­door map­ping and lo­ca­tion-based in­for­ma­tion.

Among the other changes in An­droid P will be ex­panded avail­abil­ity of Google’s neu­ral net­work, im­prove­ments to Aut­ofill, and sup­port for the Open Mo­bile API for se­cure smart-card pay­ments. There will also be im­prove­ments to se­cu­rity, app com­pat­i­bil­ity, and pri­vacy, as well as the usual speed and power ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments.

How to get the De­vel­oper Pre­view

The An­droid P De­vel­oper Pre­view is avail­able only to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. You can down­load the An­droid P sys­tem image ( fave.co/2pHDYFN) and flash it to your de­vice, or run An­droid P in an em­u­la­tor ( fave.co/2I5ne28).

If you do de­cide to flash the De­vel­oper Pre­view, to re­vert to your cur­rent op­er­at­ing sys­tem you’ll need to flash a fac­tory image.

We aren’t pro­vid­ing step-by-step in­struc­tions be­cause the De­vel­oper Pre­view is not in­tended for nor­mal users. A con­sumer pre­view will be avail­able soon, likely at Google I/O in May. We’d strongly rec­om­mend wait­ing un­til then to try the lat­est fea­tures.

Google is build­ing sup­port for notched screens in An­droid P, which will solve prob­lems like this on the Es­sen­tial Phone

In­door map­ping (left) and richer replies to mes­sages in­side no­ti­fi­ca­tions are among the changes in An­droid P

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