Google has formally announced the next version of its mobile operating system, Android P, which you may expect to see on some handsets from after this year. Just a handful of new features have been introduced so far, but they include support for screens with notches, motivated by the iPhone X.
To start out with, Android P is going to be available as a developer preview, which means you will need to be registered with Google as a programmer (and also have one of a select number of approved telephones) to install this early version of the software.
The final release date of Android P has not yet been confirmed, but it ought to be at some stage in the next quarter of this calendar year, as was the situation with Android 8.0 Oreo (by which time we should have a full name also). As usual, it’s Google’s phones that will find the update first.
So what is new? Google will drip-feed new features to the general public over the coming months, but we know Android P includes aid for notches on bezel-free screens (like the Asus ZenFone 5). Since the identifying notch appeared on Apple’s flagship phone last September, home the front-facing camera and face recognition technologies, other mobile manufacturers are following the trend in their handsets — though not, notably, on the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Native notch service means programmers won’t have to fret too much about their apps switching to full-screen mode on devices with and without cutouts on top of the display — virtually everything ought to be dealt with automatically.
Messaging notifications are getting richer, with support for clever replies and image previews in the notifications themselves, while the allowing of a new technology called Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time (RTT) can make it simpler for mapping programs to log your location indoors by pinging local routers.
Android P can stream feeds from two cameras simultaneously — like the ones on the front and back of your phone, for instance — and the overall camera catch time was booted up. The OS are also better able to take care of background mike and camera access, reducing the chances of any of your programs surreptitiously spying on you.
There are plenty of other smaller developments, such as battery optimizations, improved image compression, and faster access to AI-specific features. These improvements are quite low-level, as befits a developer preview release — some significant changes that you’re going to detect will be announced in the not too distant future.
All eyes are on Google I/O, the annual programmer conference which this year starts on May 8. In case it follows heritage, Google will tell us much more about Android P and also what new features we could expect afterward.