After months of beta testing, Google has officially taken the wrapper off the next version of Android. Dubbed as Android 9 Pie, a stable version of the latest Google OS is being released to Pixel devices as well as the Essential Phone featuring a refined UI, gesture navigation, AI features and enhanced security. Devices from other OEMs, which were initially under the Beta program, will also be seeded an update to the latest Android firmware before the fall of 2018.
The successor to last year’s Android Oreo has teeny tiny tweaks here and there to make your smartphone smarter through machine learning. The first of which benefits the users through ‘Adaptive Battery’ which employs AI to figure out which apps are being used the least so as to cut down on the background resources. This would in turn limit access to the battery for such apps, thus extending the battery life of your smartphone for when it’s really needed.
Similarly, Adaptive Brightness predicts how bright you need your phone to be at certain conditions and will thus apply it for you, according to your locations and what you’re doing with the device. Another AI-based feature is Slices (nice way to play with your Pie, Google!) which allows an app’s functionality to pop up on the Google app when searched for. If you searched for Uber, you’ll quickly be able to request a cab to your location.
App Actions will be able to predict which set of Quick Action you might want to use the most when in the App Launcher. In case you’re ready to drive to work, App Actions will suggest you open Maps to help navigate to your workplace or play a song from your Play Music playlist.
Android 9 Pie introduces the much-anticipated gesture navigation system which takes some inspiration from Apple’s iPhone X. Instead of a three-button layout at the bottom, there’s a basic Overview mode which can be triggered by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The main button at the bottom will be the key to interact through the whole new Android interface which is accompanied by a back button inside apps.
Overview mode brings several gesture-based functions including Smart text selection, better screenshots, enhanced volume controls, app-based rotation lock and a new Settings menu. The Notifications screen will now greet you with circular icons, smart reply options and expanded preview to view app messages.
Android 9 will also look to help you toward smartphone de-addiction by integrating a new Dashboard that analyses the amount of time you spend on an app and prevents overusing it after you’re past your daily limit. While a DND mode turns on grayscale on your phone, the Wind Down option switches on Night Light when going to bed.
Android 9 Pie can currently be downloaded on the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and the Essential Phone by heading over to the Settings screen manually.