Android P Beta Released. What’s New?

Last March, Google released Android P developer preview with new features such as indoor positioning with WiFi RTT, support for display notch, HDR VP9, HEIF image compression, a new API to access two or more camera simultaneously and so on.

Google I/O 2018 has just gotten started, and the company announced the release of Android P beta with yet more features,  and support for phones from more manufacturers.

Some of the most notable features include:

  • Adaptive Battery uses machine learning to prioritize access to system resources for a user’s most commonly run apps, and places each app in four “buckets” ranked from “active” to “rare”. Apps will change buckets over time, and apps not in the “active” bucket will have restrictions for jobs, alarms, network and high-priority Firebase Cloud Messages.
  • App Actions will also use machine learning to show actions for specific apps depending on context. For example highlighting “Taylor Swift” text will not only show  a contextual menu with Copy / Share / Select All as is currently the case, but potentially links to apps such as Spotify to listen to her music or a ticketing app to purchase tickets for a concert.
  • Slices will provide rich content to users in places like Google Search and Assistant. Slices are interactive with support for actions, toggles, sliders, scrolling content, and more. They will work for devices running Android 4.4 Kitkat or greater through the new Android Jetpack set of libraries and tools.
  • Smart reply in notifications is now possible in any app thanks to a new API soon accessible to developers in the Machine Learning Kit.
  • New system navigation that’s supposed to give  easier access to Home, Overview, and the Assistant from a single button on every screen, as well as simplify multitasking.

  • The Text Magnifier makes it  easier to text select, and control the cursor.
  • Background restrictions will allow users better control if the background apps by detecting the ones that drain the battery the most, and letting users restrict their background activities if they wish to do so.
  • Enhanced audio with Dynamics Processing allows developers to isolate specific frequencies and lower loud or increase soft sounds to enhance the acoustic quality of their application. See documentation for details.
  • Various security features & improvements including a biometric prompt for authentication, protected confirmation based on TEE (Trusted Execution Environment), and support for stronger protection for private keys for devices with StrongBox security chip.

Another interesting feature, maybe not directly related to Android P per se, but the way apps are distributed is Android App Bundle & Google Play Dynamic Delivery which will only download required resources on a given phone. So instead of download a large apk with all languages, architectures, and images, the app will be delivered smartly with just one language (e.g. English), the binary specific to the architecture of the phone (e.g. ARM64), and resources & images matching your phone’s screen resolution (e.g. hdpi).

Google developer previews and beta versions of Android only used to work on their own Nexus or Pixel phones, but for Android P beta, the company included phones from other manufacturers:

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
  • Nokia 7 Plus
  • Oppo R15 Pro
  • Vivo X21UD and X21
  • Essential PH1

Google’s Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, and Pixel XL are also supported, and you can download the beta images for the supported here.

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6 years ago

I’m glad to see they opened up the beta images. That goes a long way to address the ‘where’s the cheap nexus phones for developers’ issue. Thanks, google!

The rest of that stuff is a mix of “oh, plese no” and “most vendor ROMs already do something like that”. As long as some of that stuff can be turned off, I guess it’s no harm.

6 years ago

Yes, if they already have some phones tha adopted Treble with Nougat, then this could explain the nice (but still small) selection of phones with P-previews.

Kty Shy
6 years ago

Not what I’d call a super thrilling set of features, but it’s still pretty sweet. people are speculating what it will be in the end, but it’s pretty clear that nothing game-changing is happening with P.Still, it’s going to be pretty sweet.

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