Test driv­ing the An­droid P Devel­oper Preview

Sam­sung Gal­axy S9 and Google Pixel own­ers are among the few to see Oreo so far, but the first preview for Oreo-suc­ces­sor, An­droid P, has al­ready landed. Dar­ren Yates in­ves­ti­gates.

APC Australia - - Contents -

It may not yet have an of­fi­cial name, but the An­droid Devel­oper Preview Show has rolled back into town, with Google un­veil­ing the first preview of An­droid P, the fol­low-up to An­droid 8.x/Oreo re­leased last Au­gust. With Oreo pre­sent­ing so many ar­chi­tec­tural changes un­der the bon­net com­pared with its Nougat/7.0 pre­de­ces­sor, An­droid P looks set for more vis­i­ble mod­i­fi­ca­tions, from its new round­ed­corner de­sign to its heavy over­haul of no­ti­fi­ca­tions, sup­port for new cen­tre cutouts, even a new home for the clock. We dive into An­droid P Devel­oper Preview 1, round up the new big-ticket items and some of the less-well-known changes com­ing to the next ver­sion of An­droid.


GPS (global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem) can sort out your lo­ca­tion out­doors quite com­fort­ably, how­ever, walk through a large shop­ping cen­tre or cor­po­rate build­ing and you’re still on your own. An­droid P aims to fix this by in­cor­po­rat­ing 802.11mc, a Wi-Fi pro­to­col that’s been demon­strated by In­tel since at least 2015, fea­tur­ing what’s known as ‘Fine Time Mea­sure­ment’. An­droid P phones will be able to ping nearby Wi-Fi ac­cess points that sup­port this new ‘Wi-Fi Round Trip Time’ or RTT and re­ceive back data pack­ets fea­tur­ing time­stamps mea­sured in nanosec­onds. Have three or more of these ac­cess points and An­droid P will tri­an­gu­late your lo­ca­tion within a build­ing. You won’t need to con­nect to the ac­cess point to get these times­tamped pack­ets and the ping process is one-way only — your de­vice can ping the ac­cess point, but not the other way around. Google says it should be ac­cu­rate to ‘within 1 to 2 me­tres’. While in­door nav­i­ga­tion is one clear ap­pli­ca­tion, the big-G also sees a fu­ture for what it calls ‘dis­am­biguated voice con­trol’ — this com­bines smart-home tech with in­door lo­ca­tion, so that An­droid P knows ex­actly which light switch you’re talk­ing about when you say ‘turn off this light’.


When I first saw the notched dis­play on the Ap­ple X phone, I thought at the time ‘Yeah, nah’, but clearly, I won’t score a de­sign gig at Google any time soon, for it seems An­droid is set to roll out its own notched-dis­play sup­port.

The notch is a nec­es­sary evil at the mo­ment if you want a phone with front-fac­ing cam­era sen­sors plus a full frame­less ‘edge-to-edge’ dis­play. If you look at An­droid P via An­droid Em­u­la­tor, you’ll see un­der ‘Set­tings’ and ‘Dis­play’ there’s a ‘dis­play theme’ op­tion that gives you three dif­fer­ent cutout styles — ‘Nar­row dis­play cutout’, which ap­pears de­signed for a sin­gle cam­era sen­sor and has a depth of half the sta­tus bar height, ‘Tall dis­play cutout’, which uses the full sta­tus bar height, and ‘Wide dis­play cutout’, pro­vid­ing enough space for at least two selfie sen­sors. The idea is that app de­vel­op­ers can dial up the dif­fer­ent cutout op­tions and en­sure their apps will work when these cutouts ap­pear in real phones.


How­ever, to ac­com­mo­date these cutouts, it seems An­droid P has had to in­tro­duce an­other change and that’s mov­ing the clock from the far-right to the far-left of the sta­tus bar. For phones with notches, it’s prob­a­bly un­der­stand­able, since there’s less room for sys­tem no­ti­fi­ca­tion icons on that right-side if the clock re­mained there. Still, it’d be a nice tough if An­droid P even­tu­ally gave you the op­tion to choose which side you want the clock, in case you don’t end up with a notched phone.

An­droid P Devel­oper Preview 1 is now avail­able at devel­oper. an­droid.com

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