Android P release date and features: Android Pie is here, and here's when it's coming to your phone

Android Pie looks set to become the best version of Android yet, here's what you need to know

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Android 9 Pie is finally here, if you have a certain phone that is. As with all versions of Android, Google drops its latest mobile OS on its devices first while other manufacturers take their time to update their handsets with customised versions of Android Pie.

This time around Android has had quite the overhaul. Underneath Pie's thick crust lies a delicious set of new features all designed to improve the lives of Android users in meaningful ways. On the Android developer's blog, Google lists a whole array of quality-of-life updates for Android Pie, such as adaptive battery and AI-powered features that change how your phone looks and operates based on how a user interacts with the device.

Now Android Pie is out in the wild, Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL users should be able to download and run Pie with zero issues. Other handsets will recieve an update shortly.

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Android Pie: Everything you need to know

Android Pie release date: When will your phone update to Android P?

Android Pie is available now if you're using certain handsets. It's been a long time coming as the developer build of Pie went live in March, with a beta following in May after Google I/O.

Currently owners of any Google Pixel smartphones will have Android Pie updated onto their device, and other manufacturers are intending to push Pie to users from autumn.

It's not yet known exactly when Android Pie will filter down to other devices, but we already know that these devices currently run Android Pie:

It's believed that these devices will receive an Android Pie update sometime this year, although not every manufacturer has confirmed if that's the case.

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Android Pie name: How Google picked its sweet treat

Google has been slowly making its way down through the dessert-themed alphabet and, after Android Oreo, it was the turn of the letter "P". Google seems to have settled on Pie as it's choice of sweet treat, and we can't really argue otherwise – partly because we also can't think of any other "P"-based dessert that's as common as pie.

Questions have to be asked as to what Android 10 Q will be called, but perhaps Google may finally drop the dessert names as they shift focus away from Android and towards its new mysterious Project Fuchsia.

How to install Android 9 Pie

If you want to be among the first to get your hands on Android Pie, you can sign up to be an Android beta tester. You can also compare the new Android Pie features with those added in Android Oreo. However, before you download an early version of the software, Google has warned these builds are liable to breaking, so you should only install it if you know what you’re doing, and never on your day-to-day phone.

Android Pie features

Android Pie: The notch is confirmed

As first predicted by Bloomberg, Google confirmed Android P will support an iPhone X-style “notch” or display cutout.

We saw a number of new Android phones, including the Asus ZenFone 5Z, at MWC 2018 featuring cut outs. More recently, it was seen on the average Huawei P20 and the fantastic Huawei P20 Pro handsets. At this stage it seems Google is catering to these third-party manufacturers rather than necessarily planning an iPhone-X style notch for its own Pixel devices.

Personally, I’d also like to think that Google is better than copying an Apple feature that’s more about style than function.

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The shot appears to show a revamped navigation bar featuring a thinner, “pill-shaped” home button, similar to that seen on the iPhone X, with the recent apps option missing. This, accompanied by reports from a source familiar with the plans, suggests you'll be able to access multitasking features on Android P by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, a la iPhone X.

Android Pie: A new look

Google said at its I/O conference that with Android P it had "put a special emphasis on simplicity." As a result, Android P has a new system navigation and Google is extending gestures to enable navigation from your home screen. This has been particularly designed for larger phones that are harder to use one-handed. The redesigned Quick Settings option makes it easier to take and edit screenshots, brings simplified volume controls, and adds an easier way to manage notifications. 

Android P: iPhone X-style gestures and Smart Text in Overview

A screenshot from the most recent Android update, posted in the Android Developers Blog and discovered by 9to5Google, added further weight to the notch claims from last month, as well as the more recently confirmed new gestures. With Android P, you can swipe up to see a newly designed Overview, which gives an at-a-glance look at full-screen previews of your recently used apps. You will then be able to tap to go into one of them. Android P additionally brings Smart Text Selection (which recognises the meaning of the text you’re selecting and suggests relevant actions) to Overview, making it easier to move between apps, for example.

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Android Pie: Adaptive battery and brightness

With Android P, Google has partnered with its AI firm DeepMind to create a feature called Adaptive Battery. This uses machine learning to learn your behaviours and prioritise battery power only for the apps and services you use the most, "to help you squeeze the most out of your battery". This machine learning was also used to build Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness slider given your surroundings. A feature already available on iOS. 

Elsewhere, this machine learning will "help you better navigate your day", using context to give you smarter suggestions based on what you like to do the most, and automatically anticipating your next action. App Actions, for example, help you get to your next task more quickly by predicting what you want to do next. An example given by Google is when you connect your headphones. In Android P, the software will automatically open Spotify, for instance. Actions will appear throughout Android in places like the Launcher, Smart Text Selection, the Play Store, the Google Search app and the Assistant.

Android Pie: Better notifications

Elsewhere, Android P features new, improved messaging notifications. More specifically, you’ll be able to see images you’ve been sent and previous messages in a conversation directly from the notification draw, and you can also send photos and stickers without needing to open an app. Among other refinements, replies you send from the notification drawer will also be saved as drafts in the appropriate app should you inadvertently close the notification. Like everything on this page, any of these refinements could be lost or change in due course, as successive developer versions of Android P are released.

Android Piue: Wellbeing

"Technology should help you with your life, not distract you from it," said Google at I/O, so the company has made it easier to manage your tech habits (and possible addictions). A new Dashboard, for example, will show you how many times you've unlocked your phone, how much time you're spending in certain apps, how many notifications you've received and more.
An App Timer lets you set time limits on apps, and will nudge you when you’re close to your limit, while the new Do Not Disturb mode silences not just calls and notifications, but also any visual interruptions that pop up on your screen. In Android P, this mode is automatically enabled when you place your phone facedown on a table. 

Android Pie: Dual camera support

Because so many phones now feature dual cameras, Android P also comes with dual camera support baked in. A new API lets apps “access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras”, explains the Android developer's blog.

“On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision”, explains the blog. “We're looking forward to seeing your new and exciting creations as Android P devices supporting multiple cameras reach the market in the year ahead.”

Android Pie: Security, privacy and performance improvements

Along with a host of other back-end refinements, which you can read about on the Android Developers Blog, Google has announced that Android P will strengthen Android’s foundations, “continuing our long-term investment to make Android the best platform for developers”. With this in mind, there are boosts to security, privacy, performance and power efficiency. In particular, “Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all...sensors from apps that are idle,” to ensure better privacy, explains Google.

Android Pie: Dropping support for certain handsets

One of the standout revelations from recent developer releases was that Google is officially ending major OS support for its older models, namely the Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 6P and Pixel C tablet.

The 2015 products were only meant to be supported for two years, so this change comes as no surprise, but it will irk some loyal fans. As a result, Android 8.1 was the last supported major OS. Google will support security updates for these handsets until November 2018 and then you're on your own. 

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