Android Oreo is still slooooowly rolling out to devices, but Google is already hard at work on the next version of its smartphone operating system.Android Oreo is only available on 1 percent of Android phones.
The competition between Google and Apple is as fierce as it’s ever been, and as Apple reportedly focuses on stability in this year’s iOS 12 upgrade, Google looks like it's taking the opportunity to give its Android OS a major overhaul, if early reports about the Android P update pan out.
The Android P developer preview is now available to download on Google's Pixel devices, but as this is an early build packed with developer-centric tools, we caution against putting it on your own phone.
Here’s what you can expect when Android P rolls out to the public later this year.
Design: The Notch is Coming
Android P, nicknamed Android Pistachio Ice Cream internally, might look familiar to iPhone X users. Google will reportedly embrace an interface that incorporates the polarizing notch that contains the premium iPhone’s front-facing camera system in a display that is otherwise bezel-free. According to Bloomberg, the decision is intended to woo iPhone owners who prefer the look of Apple’s design.
One Android device, the Essential Phone, already features a type of notch on its display. It’s unclear whether other Android phone makers, such as Samsung, will incorporate that design language in their own flagships. Samsung mocked the iPhone X's design in a commercial.
Google Assistant: Better, Faster, Smarter
Android P is also expected to integrate more tightly with Google Assistant in an effort to dominate other digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. According to Bloomberg's report, Google will open up Assistant to third-party developers, much like Amazon has done with Alexa, so you can ask Google Assistant to perform tasks for you in non-Google apps.
Apple opened up Siri to third-party apps in iOS 10, but has limited the type of apps that can interact with its digital assistant.
Google is also rumored to be considering the addition of a Google Assistant search bar on its home screen.
P Is for Privacy
As Android currently stands, once you give an app the permission to access your cameras or microphones, it can use those tools whenever it pleases. But that's about to change. Android P will block apps running in the background from accessing the mic and camera.
Apps trying to use your cameras without you knowing will shut down and send an error, while those trying to record audio will capture blank sound until the app is opened.
No More Out-of-Date Apps
Google is cracking down on apps designed for previous generations of Android in the P developer build, The Verge noted. If an app doesn't use a recent SDK targeting Android 4.2 or later, users will see a pop-up alert when they try to install it. Google will also require new apps to target Android Oreo by November.
What's In a Name?
Google may be calling its next OS Pistachio Ice Cream internally, per the Bloomberg report. But that may not be the finally dessert-themed name it settles on for its next OS. Pistachio Ice Cream hardly rolls off the tongue, and Google typically opts for a different public-facing name once a software update is ready to launch.
Rumored candidates for the official name include Popsicle, Pineapple Cake and many variations on Pie. Google typically announces the final name long after its I/O developers conference — which starts May 8 this year — and right before the new OS arrives.
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