Google’s Android P Gets New Navigation Gestures, Digital Wellbeing, and Slices in First Public Beta
Google formally unveiled Android P today on stage at I/O 2018. While the company did seed everyone with a preview of the software earlier this year, nothing was really known about the beta and what it might feature. Now, we have a pretty good idea of what will be shipping when the update hits more devices later this year.
For starters, Android P is changing how you navigate your phone. Instead of having three buttons at the bottom of your phone like there have been for the past eight years, you’ll get a single pill-shaped icon that, when tapped, will take you home. To get to multitasking, you swipe up on your home screen which will display a horizontal interface you can scroll through to quickly access an app. You also get access to suggested apps and the Google search bar. One more swipe up will get you the app drawer.
From here, you’ll notice some new additions. Not only will you see suggested apps at the top, but you’ll also see suggested actions called App Actions. For instance, if you connect your headphones to your phone, Android P will recommend opening the most recently played album in Spotify. Or if you regularly email a contact at a certain time of day, the app drawer will recommend you do so at that time. These actions will not only pop up in the Pixel Launcher but also in Smart Text Selection, the Play Store, the Google Search app, and the Assistant.
Additionally, when viewing apps in the multitasking interface, you’ll be able to do things like select text from within them without opening the apps entirely. This should aid those who are constantly switching between apps multitask better.
There are also a bunch of other UI changes inside Android P. Things like a new screenshot editor, a redesigned Quick Settings pane, simplified volume controls, and new notification management tools are all present. Of course, over time, it’s possible more will be added to this list so stay tuned.
As a part of Google’s new initiative, Android P includes new tools for your digital wellbeing. Essentially, Google wants to help you control how much you use your smartphone and remain more present amongst others. A new Dashboard will show you how much you use your favorite apps; an App Timer will let you set time limits on how much you can use favorite apps every day; Do Not Disturb now blocks all visual interruptions, phone calls, and notifications; flipping yoru phone over on its face will activate Do Not Disturb; and Wind Down will switch on Night Light, Do Not Disturb, and a black-and-white overlay on your screen when it’s almost time to go to bed.
Technology should help you with your life, not distract you from it. So we’ve been working hard to add key capabilities right into Android to help you achieve your desired balance with technology. Our focus is on giving you a greater understanding of how you use your phone, as well as more controls.
Also found in the beta is a new featured called Slices. Essentially, Slices will allow you to access certain parts of supported apps without having to open the full app.
If you search for “Lyft” in Google Search, you can see an interactive Slice that gives you the price and time for a trip to work, and it’s interactive so you can quickly order the ride.
Finally, Google says they’ve partnered with DeepMind to bring Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness to Android P which will use artificial intelligence to adjust what services use the most battery power and how bright your display gets based on your lighting conditions and your preferences.
In Android P, we partnered with DeepMind to build Adaptive Battery, which prioritizes battery power only for the apps and services you use the most, to help you squeeze the most out of your battery. We also used machine learning to create Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness slider given your surroundings.
There’s still plenty of stuff in Android P we didn’t mention here. If you wanna discover it all, you can install the first public beta of the software on a supported Android device. Luckily, this year, it isn’t restricted to only Pixel devices. Rather, you’ll be able to install it on the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. You can enroll in the beta at android.com/beta.