Android P has begun its developer preview, meaning that it’s now available for developers, or those curious enough to check out some unfinished software. We’re guessing that you fit one of those two groups, right?
Just like 2017’s surprise announcement of Android Oreo, Google unveiled this year’s big upgrade a few months ahead of Google IO 2018, where it will dive deep into what to expect from the final release of P – except its name. What will ‘P’ stand for? We have a few ideas…
Based on our hands-on experience, detailed below, Android P appears to focus more on overhauling the visual design of the operating system than how it works, though leave it up to Google to still make countless changes and improvements in the coming months.
Looking to download Android P for yourself? You’ll need one of four phones currently supported: the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2 or Google Pixel 2 XL. More devices will support the software shortly after its final release, like the Google Pixel 3, but if you want beta access, going Google is the only option.
We’ll add new information to this article as we hear it, but while we wait for more official info nuggets to drop, we’ve also come up with a list of things we want from Android P, because as good as Android Oreo is there’s always room for more improvement.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next version of Android
- When is it out? Probably August 2018
- How much will it cost? It will be a free update
Android P release date
Google brought out the first developer preview of Android P in early March 2018. We expect the cadence of beta updates to hit every few months until the final version lands in August 2018, a year after Android Oreo landed.
Of course, it will be available first for the Google phones listed above, but it will also likely make its retail debut in the Google Pixel 3 nearing the year’s end.
Android P news
As we get closer to the release of Android P, some new features are starting to pop up. Recently, a feature cropped up that will let Android P remember the preferred volume that you use in your Bluetooth devices.
This small, but important feature will make certain that your music or podcasts are played neither too loud or quietly.
Android P first impressions
After the trial and error that always comes with the delicate process of flashing a smartphone, we finally have Android P loaded onto a Google Pixel XL. It didn’t take long for us to notice a few small, but appreciable tweaks to the visuals from the initial setup screen.
Text is more sharp, there’s generally more color in the menus, transition animations have been touched up, and some stuff has been moved around. It looks and feels fresh, even in this very early software build.
Looking for the time? It’s now on the top left corner of the screen. App notification icons pile next to it, which could get dicey if
A.) you use a lot of apps, or
B.) your next Android phone has a notch (Google has planned ahead for this, thankfully.)
The Pixel Launcher now has a rounded-off edge, matching the look of notification windows that you see when you wake up your phone. This is obviously a minor touch, but it plays into the overall look that Google is going for with P.
Ambient Display has been overhauled, at least compared to what came before it on Pixel XL and what currently exists on the latest Pixel 2 XL Oreo software. The date and day of week no longer display underneath the time, but it still displays app notification icons.
The biggest change here is that down at the screen’s bottom, it displays the battery percentage, so that you don’t have to wake it to know whether you need to plug in or not. We look forward to Google making more updates to Ambient Display as the dev preview continues.
iPhone X-sized notch
Buried in the display settings, the preview allows developers, and by extension, us and anyone else who installs the preview, to simulate a notch on their phones. Offering three different notch options, Google lets developers test their apps using a hypothetical notch before more devices with the feature release, which will inevitably happen. I’m sure some people will leave this feature on for fun, but it looks pretty silly on the Pixel XL’s humongous bezels. Plus, seeing app notifications hiding because there’s no more space? Not so much fun at all, really.
We’re still digging around Android P and will be installing new updates as they come, so stay tuned.
What we want to see
Android is in quite a polished state by this point, but there are always improvements that can be made, such as the following things.