Android P: Everything you need to know
looks at Google’s latest mobile operating system
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 now.
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 very 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 non-notch 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.
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. Check out our in-depth look at gesture navigation to learn how it all works – go to fave.co/2LEcGZp.
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:
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