Ev­ery­thing you need to know about An­droid Pie

Android Advisor - - Contents - MICHAEL SI­MON looks at Google’s lat­est mo­bile OS

It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talk­ing about back-to-school or the end of sum­mer – it’s time for a new flavour of An­droid. And this year the tasty con­fec­tion is... Pie. That’s right, the ninth ver­sion of An­droid has an of­fi­cial name and that means it’s ready to in­stall on the pre­cious few phones lucky enough to sup­port it on day one.

This year, how­ever, the wait for An­droid Pie might not be so ex­cru­ci­at­ing. Thanks to Pro­ject Tre­ble,

sev­eral phones al­ready have beta ver­sions of An­droid 9 in the wild, so it could be weeks, not months, be­fore it starts show­ing up on more phones. But no mat­ter how long it takes, it’ll be worth the wait. Pie in­tro­duces enough new fea­tures to make any Oreo user jeal­ous, so even if it hasn’t landed on your phone yet, you’ll want to learn all about what’s in store for the ninth ma­jor ver­sion of An­droid.

How to get An­droid 9 Pie Can I get An­droid Pie on my phone?

Of­fi­cially, the crop of hand­sets that were able to in­stall An­droid Pie on day one is smaller than ever now that the Nexus phones have dropped off the list:

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

How­ever, thanks to An­droid One and Pro­ject Tre­ble in Oreo, more phones than ever are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the eas­ier up­grade path. Many man­u­fac­tur­ers have al­ready pushed out An­droid Pie be­tas, so if you have one of these phones, you should be next in line to get a piece of Pie:

• Essential Phone • Nokia 7 Plus • OnePlus 6 • Oppo R15 Pro • Sony Xpe­ria XZ2

• Vivo X21 • Vivo X21UD • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

If I have a Pixel, how do I get Pie?

Easy. Once it’s avail­able for your de­vice (which could be to­day or to­mor­row, de­pend­ing on your car­rier and model), you’ll get a notification telling you that the An­droid 9 up­date is avail­able. Tap it, press the in­stall but­ton, and restart when prompted to give it a whirl.

If you don’t want to wait for the easy over-the-air de­liv­ery, you can also down­load the fac­tory im­age to your PC and in­stall it on your phone man­u­ally. It’s a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult and re­quires a work­ing knowl­edge of the com­mand line on your Mac or PC, but it’s the only way to be sure that you’ll be among the first to have it on your phone.

If I have one of those other phones, how can I get An­droid Pie?

If you have an Essential Phone, you can get it right now. Just head over to Sys­tem up­date in the Sys­tem set­tings and tap Check for up­date. The An­droid 9 up­date will ap­pear and you can down­load and in­stall it.

For the other phones on the list, you can ei­ther wait un­til the man­u­fac­turer pushes the of­fi­cial ver­sion to the pub­lic, or you can down­load the ap­pro­pri­ate beta sys­tem im­ages onto your PC and man­u­ally flash An­droid P onto your phone. It’s not for the faint of heart and you’ll be writ­ing over important sys­tem files, so you should def­i­nitely make sure you have a backup of your phone’s important data first. But if you choose that process, you’ll be well ac­quainted with An­droid Pie by the time the of­fi­cial pub­lic ver­sion ar­rives.

I al­ready signed up for the pub­lic beta. Do I need to re­move it to in­stall the new ver­sion?

No. You’ll get a notification when the new ver­sion is avail­able and you can in­stall it right over the lat­est beta build. Plus, you’ll still get ac­cess to all fu­ture An­droid Pie be­tas. How­ever, if you want to start from scratch, you can al­ways per­form a fac­tory re­store by go­ing to Set­tings > Sys­tem > Ad­vanced > Re­set Op­tions >Erase all data (fac­tory re­set). Then you’ll be sure to get the best pos­si­ble per­for­mance out of An­droid Pie.

An­droid 9 Pie fea­tures Dis­play cutout sup­port

In case you haven’t picked up an An­droid phone in the past few months, there’s a new trend: camera

notches. And with the up­com­ing Pixel 3 ru­moured to in­clude one too, Google did the log­i­cal thing and added dis­play cutout sup­port in An­droid Pie. You won’t no­tice too much of a change in non­notch phones, but apps and videos on phones such as the LG G7 and OnePlus 6 will be sure to dis­play cor­rectly once you in­stall An­droid Pie.

One notch-re­lated change that will af­fect all phones in Pie is the sta­tus bar. Be­cause the mid­dle of the top of the screen is re­served for a camera, a few things have been tweaked to accommodate the loss of space.

For one, the time has been shifted to the far left of the screen, leav­ing the bat­tery icon and per­cent­age (if you opt to dis­play it) at the far right. Also, you can

only see four sta­tus bar icons at a time, so you’ll prob­a­bly be spend­ing more time in the notification shade. Ba­si­cally it doesn’t mat­ter if you have a notch on your phone or not – An­droid Pie thinks all phones have one.

New Over­view screen to dis­play re­cent apps

While most peo­ple might not no­tice the sta­tus bar tweaks to accommodate the camera cutout, there’s one in­ter­face change ev­ery­one will rec­og­nize: the new Over­view screen.

Prior ver­sions of An­droid fea­tured a ver­ti­cally ori­ented screen, mean­ing you had to swipe down

to se­lect a pre­vi­ous app and you couldn’t re­ally see what was go­ing on in most of the screens. With the new sys­tem, app screens are ar­ranged hor­i­zon­tally, so you swipe left and right now to nav­i­gate through them. And there’s no over­lap­ping, so you can see the whole screen. There are other changes too: Below the re­cent app screens, you’ll find a search bar and a set of sug­gested apps, so the mul­ti­task­ing screen is more use­ful than ever, even with­out the big­gest change in An­droid P.

Ges­ture nav­i­ga­tion

While the new Re­cent Apps screen is vis­i­ble to all users, it’s mainly de­signed to take ad­van­tage of An­droid’s new op­tional ges­ture-based nav­i­ga­tion. Head over to the Sys­tem set­tings, tap on the Ges­tures tab and you’ll find a new tog­gle: Swipe up on home but­ton. Turn it on and the nav bar will change from the tra­di­tional Back, Home, and Re­cents trio to just two icons: a small ar­row and a pill-shaped home but­ton.

That’s where new ges­ture-based nav­i­ga­tion in An­droid takes over, let­ting you jump be­tween screens, quickly close apps, and in­ter­act with them in fun new ways. Granted, it’s sure to have its de­trac­tors, but we def­i­nitely rec­om­mend giv­ing it a try.

No­ti­fi­ca­tions

Each new ver­sion of An­droid tends to brings some changes to the notification sys­tem, and Google has once again tweaked its sys­tem for the new ver­sion of An­droid. It’s pretty great. Among the small but use­ful changes to no­ti­fi­ca­tions are:

When you re­ply to a mes­sage or email di­rectly from an alert you’ll get three sug­gested responses to choose from in ad­di­tion to the usual typ­ing field. You can long press on an alert to stop fu­ture no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Tap on a notification for an app that’s run­ning in the back­ground (like Waze) and you’ll get an op­tion to shut it down. Tap on the screen­shot notification and you’ll get an op­tion to edit or share it with­out open­ing Pho­tos. Tap the ‘Man­age no­ti­fi­ca­tions’ but­ton at the bot­tom of the shade to go straight to the Notification Set­tings.

If you con­stantly dis­miss a cer­tain kind of notification, Pie will ask if you want to stop show­ing them. Below cer­tain no­ti­fi­ca­tions you’ll be able to tap a ‘Use­ful’ or ‘Not use­ful’ but­ton so the sys­tem can learn to de­liver only the alerts you want, even if ev­ery switch is turned on the No­ti­fi­ca­tions set­tings.

And one more cool notification-re­lated fea­ture: if you tap the Do Not Dis­turb icon in the Quick Set­tings menu, it’ll hide both cur­rent and fu­ture no­ti­fi­ca­tions for a com­pletely dis­trac­tion-free ex­pe­ri­ence.

Boosted Bat­tery

Among the ob­vi­ous vis­ual changes in An­droid Pie are some that you won’t no­tice at first. The big­gest is Adap­tive Bat­tery. It’s turned on by de­fault, but to find it, go to the Bat­tery tab in the Set­tings app and se­lect Adap­tive Bat­tery. In­side you’ll find a Use Adap­tive Bat­tery switch that will in­tel­li­gently ‘limit bat­tery for apps that you don’t use of­ten’.

Google de­scribes it like this: “To ex­tend bat­tery life, Adap­tive Bat­tery lim­its bat­tery for in­fre­quently used

apps. Your phone will learn how you use apps over time. No­ti­fi­ca­tions may be de­layed for these apps. That means your phone will ac­tu­ally be able to in­crease bat­tery life over time as the sys­tem shifts pri­or­ity to only the apps you use the most.” Once the sys­tem starts re­strict­ing apps, you’ll see them listed below.

Also help­ing bat­tery life is a more ro­bust set of back­ground re­stric­tions. We first saw this with Oreo, but Pie takes it a step fur­ther by alert­ing you to er­rant be­hav­iour and giv­ing you the op­tion you shut down the of­fend­ing app. It will also pro­vide you in­ter­val up­dates on how long your phone is ex­pected to last once the bat­tery reaches 25 per­cent. Fur­ther­more, An­droid Pie is also more ag­gres­sive when the bat­tery saver is turned on, help­ing squeeze a bit more juice out of a dy­ing bat­tery. And fi­nally, Adap­tive Bright­ness has been given a dose of ma­chine learn­ing to keep to closer to your per­sonal pref­er­ences and save bat­tery by not chang­ing so dra­mat­i­cally.

App Ac­tions

An­droid Pie’s big­gest im­prove­ment over Oreo is its abil­ity to help you get things done with less taps. And nowhere is that more ap­par­ent than with App Ac­tions. A com­pan­ion to the search-based App Slices (which are launch­ing later this fall, likely with the Pixel 3), App Ac­tions live in your app drawer, and of­fer ma­chine learn­ing-based shortcuts to com­mon tasks.

Un­der­neath your sug­gested apps in­side the app drawer you’ll see two ad­di­tional sug­ges­tions that lead di­rectly to a spe­cific part of an app, like a con­tact within Mes­sages or a place in­side Maps. Tap it and

you’ll in­stantly be whisked away to the ap­pro­pri­ate screen. There’s no way to turn it off, so there will al­ways be two op­tions in the app drawer, and like sug­gested apps, it’s up to the sys­tem to de­cide what goes there, so App Ac­tions aren’t al­ways use­ful.

Set­tings changes

Ev­ery An­droid re­lease brings changes to the Set­tings app, and Pie is no ex­cep­tion. For one, it’s eas­ier to iden­tify tabs at a glance. Where Oreo’s icons were to­tally de­void of colour, in An­droid Pie they’re each set against coloured cir­cles, mak­ing them eas­ier to spot. There are some small changes through­out some of the tabs as well, most no­tably to the Sys­tem set­tings. In Oreo there were sep­a­rate tabs for Backup, Re­set, and Sys­tem up­dates, but in Pie, those op­tions are all tucked away into a new Ad­vanced tab.

Wi-Fi Round-Trip Time (RTT)

This is one of those fea­ture you won’t get to en­joy just yet but there’s a lot of po­ten­tial for it. An­droid Pie brings sup­port for IEEE 802.11mc, bet­ter know as Wi-Fi Round-Trip Time. It’s ba­si­cally in­door GPS for your phone. Apps can use RTT to mea­sure the dis­tance be­tween nearby Wi-Fi ac­cess points (even if your phone isn’t ac­tu­ally con­nected to them) and use that data to, as Google de­scribes, “build new ex­pe­ri­ences like in-build­ing nav­i­ga­tion; fine-grained lo­ca­tion­based services such as dis­am­biguated voice con­trol (for ex­am­ple,’Turn on this light’); and lo­ca­tion-based in­for­ma­tion (for ex­am­ple, ‘Are there special of­fers for this prod­uct?’).”

Like any API, RTT is wholly de­pen­dent on de­vel­op­ers in­cor­po­rat­ing it into their apps and there aren’t any avail­able still launch. But once they start ar­riv­ing RTT is sure to be one of An­droid Pie’s best new fea­tures.

Dig­i­tal Well­be­ing

Back at its I/O con­fer­ence, Google an­nounced a new An­droid ini­tia­tive called Dig­i­tal Well­be­ing. De­signed to help you man­age how much time you’re spend­ing on your phone, the multi-pronged ef­fort of­fers a ro­bust set of tools for track­ing and man­ag­ing your app us­age. There are four com­po­nents: Dash­board (a screen that breaks down how much time you’ve spent on your de­vice), App Timer (which lets you set time lim­its for in­di­vid­ual apps), Do Not Dis­turb, and Wind Down (which turns on Night Light and Do Not Dis­turb and fades the screen to grayscale when it’s time to sleep).

But while Dig­i­tal Well­be­ing is part of An­droid Pie, it’s not quite ready for prime time yet. Google says it will of­fi­cially launch on Pixel phones this au­tumn and other de­vices “later this year”. For now, Pixel and Pixel 2 users run­ning An­droid 9 can sign up for a Dig­i­tal Well­be­ing beta pre­view at fave.co/2MCERgG.

An­droid 9 Pie: Tips and tricks Quickly mes­sage some­one who didn’t an­swer your call

An­droid Pie is filled with smart no­ti­fi­ca­tions and shortcuts to cut down our taps and swipes, but some are less ob­vi­ous than oth­ers. Here’s one you might

miss: when you call some­one that doesn’t an­swer the phone, an alert will show up at the bot­tom of the Phone app ask­ing if you want to send a mes­sage to the per­son you just called. Tap it and you’ll be taken to a new mes­sage screen with a few sug­gested responses as well as a field where you can type your own per­sonal mes­sage to the per­son you just called. Choose or type what you want, tap the paper air­plane icon, and your mes­sage will be sent with­out need­ing to open the Mes­sages app.

Re­set Adap­tive Bat­tery

An­droid Pie’s Adap­tive Bat­tery fea­ture uses ma­chine learn­ing to shut down un­used apps run­ning in the

back­ground and pre­serve bat­tery life. While you can turn Adap­tive Bat­tery off in the bat­tery set­tings, there’s no way to clear its his­tory, so if it picks up a bad habit, the only way to fix it is to wait for the sys­tem to learn the right be­hav­iour. But there is a nuclear op­tion.

Head over to the Set­tings app, then the Sys­tem tab, tap Ad­vanced, se­lect Re­set op­tions, and tap Erase all data. It’s ex­treme, but Google says it’s the only way to wipe out ev­ery­thing the Adap­tive Bat­tery sys­tem has learned. And since it learns so fast, it won’t take long for it to start en­forc­ing its bat­terysav­ing knowl­edge again.

Ro­tate your screen when ori­en­ta­tion lock is on

Ev­ery smart­phone uses its ac­celerom­e­ter to smartly change ori­en­ta­tion de­pend­ing on which way you’re hold­ing it, but as well all know, it’s sen­si­tive and prone to false switches, es­pe­cially when you’re ly­ing down. Google has de­vised a sim­ple way to fix it. It re­quires

turn­ing auto-ro­tate off. Say you’re us­ing Chrome and you want to flip your phone to see some­thing in land­scape mode. Turn your phone side­ways as usual and a small icon will ap­pear at the far right of your nav­i­ga­tion bar that looks just like the auto-ro­tate icon in Quick Set­tings. Tap it and you’ll tem­po­rar­ily lock your phone’s ori­en­ta­tion in land­scape mode. Flip your phone up­right again and the same icon will ap­pear, let­ting you change it back to por­trait ori­en­ta­tion.

Se­lect text or im­ages in Over­view

The new mul­ti­task­ing carousel in An­droid Pie isn’t just a snap­shot of your re­cent apps. It’s also a way to

quickly grab text or im­ages to share in an­other app. Un­for­tu­nate it’s ex­clu­sive to Pixel phones for now, but when you’re in the Over­view screen, you can long­press on one of the screens to ei­ther se­lect a pic­ture or bring up the han­dles for copy­ing text with­out need­ing to ac­tu­ally launch the app full screen. Then you can copy it to the clip­board and bring it over to any other app.

En­able De­vel­oper Op­tions

You don’t need to be an app maker to en­joy the perks of be­ing a de­vel­oper. In An­droid Pie (just like pre­vi­ous ver­sions of An­droid), there’s a hid­den De­vel­oper Op­tions tab that has some pretty cool ex­per­i­men­tal fea­tures. Here’s how to en­able it: open the Set­tings app and scroll down to Sys­tem. Se­lect About Phone and find Build num­ber at the bot­tom of

the screen. Start tap­ping it un­til you see a ‘You are now a de­vel­oper’ mes­sage ap­pear. Then you can go back a screen, open Ad­vanced, and you’ll see a new De­vel­oper Op­tions tab.

Con­nect five Blue­tooth au­dio de­vices at once

Prior ver­sions of An­droid limited Blue­tooth au­dio de­vice con­nec­tions to just one, but An­droid Pie raises that limit to five. That means you won’t have to switch be­tween paired de­vices any­more when you want to switch to a new one. You don’t ac­tu­ally need to en­able any­thing to take ad­van­tage of it – just try to con­nect more than one de­vice. But here’s a pro tip: if you want to change the num­ber of de­vices your phone can con­cur­rently con­nect to, you’ll first need to en­able De­vel­oper op­tions (see above). Then scroll down to the Max­i­mum con­nected Blue­tooth au­dio de­vices op­tion, and pick a lower num­ber.

Turn an App Ac­tion into a per­ma­nent short­cut

An­droid’s App Ac­tions can be sur­pris­ingly use­ful, but there’s no telling when they’ll turn up. So if there’s ever one you want to keep, sim­ple tap and hold on it and you’ll be able to drag it to your home screen to make a short­cut. That way you’ll al­ways be a tap away from the ac­tion, even when the sys­tem doesn’t think you need it any­more.

Turn on the dark theme

Ever since Oreo, An­droid on Pixel phones have had a pseudo dark theme. To en­able it, all you needed to do was pick a pre­dom­i­nantly dark wallpaper for your

home screen, which trig­gered a black back­ground for the app drawer and notification shade. Now you can en­joy it with any wallpaper. Just go to the Dis­play tab in Set­tings, tap Ad­vanced, and se­lect De­vice theme. Then you can choose Light or Dark, or let it change au­to­mat­i­cally based on your wallpaper.

Quickly put your phone on vi­brate

One of the small changes in An­droid Pie that makes a big dif­fer­ence is the vol­ume slider. In­stead of ap­pear­ing at the top of the screen, the vol­ume con­trols show up as a ver­ti­cal box next to the bot­toms on the right side of the screen. But the big change isn’t

the new ap­pear­ance, it’s the new de­fault func­tion­al­ity. Press­ing the vol­ume but­ton will now con­trol the me­dia vol­ume by de­fault rather than the ringer. So the days of ac­ci­den­tally turn­ing your phone on vi­brate are fi­nally be­hind us.

How­ever, for those times when you ac­tu­ally want to put your phone on vi­brate, there are a cou­ple of new ways to do it. The first is a but­ton right on top of the vol­ume slider. Tap it and you’ll in­stantly si­lence your phone. You can also tap the gear icon for more gran­u­lar con­trols over the sound on your phone. And last but not least is a new key short­cut. Hold down the power but­ton and vol­ume up un­til you feel a short vi­bra­tion. That will au­to­mat­i­cally turn on vi­bra­tion-

only mode. (Though the but­ton com­bi­na­tion only works one way. To turn vi­bra­tion mode off you’ll need to tap the icon at the top of the slider twice or visit the sound set­tings.)

Find the Pie Easter egg

Google al­ways hides a fun Easter egg in­side its ma­jor An­droid re­leases, bit you have to know where to look. Here’s how to find it in An­droid Pie.

Head over to the Set­tings app, se­lect Sys­tem, then About phone. Tap An­droid ver­sion and a pop-up win­dow will ap­pear show­ing things like the patch level and build num­ber. Tap the first line (An­droid ver­sion) a few times and you’ll be taken to a screen with a gi­ant P, sur­rounded by an an­i­mated and colour­ful se­ries of cir­cles. It’s not as cool as the Oreo oc­to­pus, but it’s still fun. And here’s an ex­tra tip: you can pinch the screen to re­size the cir­cles or change the colours by press­ing the back but­ton.

Google Pixel 2 XL own­ers are able to in­stall An­droid Pie

An­droid Pie brings sup­port for all kinds of notches

An­droid Pie’s new ges­ture-based nav­i­ga­tion is op­tional, but it’s worth a test-drive

An­droid Pie’s notification are even more use­ful than they were in Oreo

An­droid Pie’s Adap­tive Bat­tery uses ma­chine learn­ing to help your bat­tery last longer

An­droid Pie lets you ro­tate your screen man­u­ally why auto-ro­tate is turned off

You can se­lect text in­side the app carousel in An­droid Pie as long as you’re us­ing a Pixel phone

You can en­able De­vel­oper op­tions in An­droid even if you don’t know any­thing about mak­ing apps

An­droid Pie’s Easter egg is trippy and fun

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