Are you Ready to use the next Flavor of Android?
When is Android P coming out, and what new features will it include? We explain when and what we expect to see from Android 9.0, which may or may not be called Pistachio Ice Cream.
What will Android 9.0 be called?
Since the early days of Android updates have been named after sweet treats and in alphabetical order. So far we’ve seen:
- Android Donut (v1.6)
- Android Eclair (v2.0)
- Android Froyo (v2.2)
- Android Gingerbread (v2.3)
- Android Honeycomb (v3.0)
- Android Ice Cream Sandwich (v4.0)
- Android Jelly Bean (v4.1)
- Android KitKat (v4.4)
- Android Lollipop (v5.0)
- Android Marshmallow (v6.0)
- Android Nougat (v7.0)
- Android Oreo (v8.0)
In 2018 we should see Android ‘P’ launch as Android 9.0. The name won’t be announced until the summer, but that doesn’t stop us having a guess as to what it could be.
There are already rumours the name could be Android Pie, Android Pecan Pie or Android Pumpkin Pie, thanks to a reference to Android Pi within the Android Open Source Project. But that doesn’t sound very Google.
Google Developers have also begun dropping hints on Twitter, and the binary code pictured takes you to thewebsite where you’ll be able to use Street View to explore the reception area of a Google Developer’s building. There are various puzzles to solve, and locked away in a second room you’ll find a Pineapple Cake. Could we be looking at Android Pineapple?
— Google Developers (@googledevs) January 24, 2018
More recently sources are pointing to Android Pistachio Ice Cream, which is apparently what Google is calling the upcoming OS internally. It fits the usual sweet-treat requirement, and from previous OS names we know Google likes ice cream. But pistachio? What about all the nut-allergy sufferers?
When is Android 9.0 coming out?
Android 9.0 will most likely be announced during Google I/O 2018, which we expect to take place in mid-May, potentially 16-18 May 2018. It is possible we’ll see an earlier release in March, as we did in 2017 with Oreo.
At this point a Developer Preview will be released, which can be installed on recent Google Pixel devices but should really be left to those who now what they’re doing.
A few public betas will follow, and we expect to see the final consumer release in August 2018.
When will my phone get Android 9.0?
Although Android 9.0 will be released in August 2018, it won’t be immediately available to all Android devices. The update will first be available to Google Pixel devices, and then we’ll start to see new phones arriving with Android P out of the box at September’s IFA 2018 show.
Android updates are rolled out by phone manufacturers and network operators rather than Google itself, because any Android updates must first be tweaked to work with any customisations they have made.
Those with vanilla interfaces – such as Nokia, which has already confirmed Android P updates for all 2017 phones – will be among the first to roll out the update, then the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC will begin rolling out Android 9.0 in late 2018/early 2019.
OTA updates, when they do arrive, are expected to download and install faster and use less data thanks to Google’s Brotli compression algorithm.
There’s also no guarantee that your device will be updated to Android 9.0 (see how to update Android). Device fragmentation is still a problem for the OS, and at the last count (by Android Developers) on 5 February there were still devices running version 2.3.3 Gingerbread.
|4.0.3-4.0.4||Ice Cream Sandwich||0.4%|
What new features to expect in Android 9.0
There have been very few rumours so far as to what we can expect from Android P, though XDA suggests Google will remove access to unofficial APIs (those not part of the official SDK) – news that will upset some developers.
Other changes we can expect to see in the upcoming update, according to the enthusiast site, include support for Wi-Fi Direct Printing support and Bluetooth hearing aids, and better integration for Android Things.
The new OS will also prevent malicious apps running in the background from accessing your camera and mic in order to spy on you, according to AOSP. We’ll have to wait and see how this affects anti-theft apps, a consideration pointed out by Slashgear.
Google wants to make turn-by-turn directions while you are inside just as good as Maps has become when you are outside, and Android P is going to start making that happen with a little help from WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). This feature in 802.11mc will make it possible for apps to know how far you are from the WiFi access point you are connected to, and developers will be able to use that information to give you a more accurate location indoors.
Notifications continue to improve
Google is making it possible for developers to move even more of the conversation from your messenger of choice into a notification. Image attachments and stickers are appearing in the notification now, replacing that dreaded “person has sent an attachment” message you get now. This dramatically improves at-a-glance messaging, but also means sometimes a single message in your notification drop-down can occupy a lot of physical real estate.
This new notification style will also give developers the option to add quick replies, similar to the system currently seen in Google Allo and the reply bot in Google’s Reply app. It’s not clear yet how much control developers will have over these replies, or if the system will simply tie into the Smart Reply system Google is currently using elsewhere, but either way more robust notifications are on the horizon.
Several Android phones have multiple cameras on the front or back these days, but very few of them are able to work simultaneously. Google is adding an API for developers to explore a world where multiple cameras being used at the same time is possible.
This could mean anything, from depth-sensing magic using multiple cameras to an Apple-style live Portrait Mode or even commercial phones using a standard camera and a thermal camera at the same time to overlay the two images.
Additionally, Google is adding support for apps to use image stabilization and display-based flash just like the primary camera app on your phone. Bottom line is third-party cameras are going to keep getting better.
Android P supported phones
First things first, Android P will officially be supported on Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. The software can also be installed on Android Emulator. However, there isn’t a simple OTA programme that you can enter; developers will have to flash system images manually on their devices. Bad news for Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P users as Google is phasing out major updates – as the two year guarantee gets over – for these two phones and the Pixel C tablet.
One potential new feature is to do with smaller image file sizes. In iOS 11 Apple introduced HEIC files, which are also known as HEIF or High Efficiency Image Format. It’s the still image version of HEVC, which is the latest video codec. It makes for Jpeg images just 50 percent of their previous size, can store image edits and multiple photos in one file (think Live Photo and burst mode), and it supports transparency and 16-bit colour.
HEIC is not a proprietary image format developed by Apple itself, so there’s every possibility Google could opt for the same format. However, Google is also working with the Alliance for Open Media on its own version that is currently able to create images 15 percent smaller than HEIC. It would make sense to use the better version, of course, but for now the project is very much in its infancy. Whether it will be ready for Android 9.0 we simply don’t know.
According to Bloomberg, Android is also set to be adapted to support phones with a ‘notch’ design, as introduced by the iPhone X. The upcoming OS will also support foldable displays, such as that of the Galaxy X, and devices with multiple displays.
Increased call blocking is another possibility, according to XDA, where users will even be able to block private numbers, pay phones and numbers that either have no ID or aren’t in your contacts list.
Another interesting rumour from XDA is that Android P will allow you to use your phone as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. It will work in a similar way to the new Samsung DeX dock for the Galaxy S9.
Things we would like to see in the new OS include a faster rollout and less defragmentation among devices, improved Picture-in-Picture app support, and further enhancements on battery life and performance.