Google at its I/O developers conference officially unveiled the Android P, the next major Android OS update. Though Android P has been available as Developer Preview for weeks, Google released to the public as Android P beta immediately after I/O 2018 Developer Conference Keynote. The Android P Public Beta program now offers a download of Android P to at least ten smartphones including Google Pixel, Google Pixel 2, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, OnePlus 6, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21UD and X21, and Essential PH-1.
Android P is Google’s biggest and most ambitious update to Android yet. The P brings tons of new features like Adaptive Battery, App Actions, Slices and Gesture Navigation and App Limit, among other things. However, not all of these features are available in the beta version of the Android P yet.
Among other features revealed in Android P, Google announced App Actions and Slices, aimed at improving suggestions and making it simpler for users to perform the next action without going through too many steps in between.
App Actions is a feature that will pop up suggested actions based on your usage history. Basically, an action is a specific task within the app that you commonly perform. They are essentially shortcuts meant to let you do more with fewer taps.
“Say you connect your headphones to your device, Android will surface an action to resume your favourite Spotify playlist,” Google explains in a blog post. Google says these Actions will appear based on usage and relevance.
App Actions will crop up throughout the Android user interface like the Launcher, Smart Text Selection, Play Store, Google Search and Assistant. Though actions debuted in the Android P beta, the feature isn’t fully developed until more apps make use of it. Google announced the feature would be available to developers next month as part of MLKit so they can make use of app actions.
Slices, on the other hand, is meant to get users to interact with the apps they have already installed. The slices take the suggesting part a step further by giving you a slice or a part of the app within another app when you need it the most. These interactive snippets show content from apps without opening the app itself.
For example, if type Uber in Google Search, you will see a small Uber preview of the price and time for a trip to your work or home below the normal Google search suggestions. You can then tap on a slice of the app to launch an action immediately without having to fire up the actual app.
These UI designs from third-party apps exist, for now, only within the search bar but Google expects to add these in overall Android P UI in the stable version of the OS. Also being a third party app feature, Google is providing developers with templates to make it easier to build a consistent user interface across Slice. So the feature is fully available in the Android P Beta.
Google’s new Dashboard that provides detailed information of time you’ve spent on your phone isn’t available for the Android P beta yet. The dashboard will break down per-app usage, notifications you’ve received, number of times you’ve unlocked your device. It aims to scare users with information about their addictive behaviour and alter it if needed.
All of these features will be available in the final version of the Android P which will release to Pixel phones most likely by Fall 2018. Other smartphone users will, however, have to wait until 2019 to get their hands on the Android P update.