At Google I/O 2018 in May, Google introduced the Android Beta program with Android P Developer Preview 2. Developers, manufacturers and enthusiasts have been actively testing the software ever since to eliminate bugs and issues. This week, Google released a platform upgrade of the next mobile OS overhaul in Android P Developer Preview 3 and the first update to the beta. Here’s everything to know.
As was the case a year ago with Android Oreo, Google will release a total of five developer previews earlier than usual for manufacturers and developers to prepare updates for their devices and apps ahead of the public roll out. The strategy behind this is to help those who skin their devices in rolling out the update soon after the public release. Despite Project Treble improvements, the goal of reducing fragmentation has not gone as planned according to distribution statistics. Android P will release publicly in August according to Google’s timeline, yet many Android flagships still run Nougat from the year before. We continue to see OEMs roll out Oreo week-to-week, but it’s still a work in progress. Many expect Google to hold a hardware event to unveil new Pixel phones including a possible mid-ranger along with the platform release, this fall. As for the next developer previews, Google plans to release preview 4 in July, and a final preview in early August. Right now, the company is on schedule.
Android P is a fairly large software update with a lot of features. We knew about a handful of them from March when the first preview released, and Google talked about the major visual changes at its developer conferences which we detailed here. Since the platform release is in beta, those with compatible hardware are able to sample the software and report feedback to Google for the next release. Many of the features are still unfinished and don’t work as they should, but progress has been made since the last beta. It’s still a ways from perfect, so don’t install it on your daily driver just yet. Future versions will be more stable.
In this release of the developer preview, Google has confirmed that Android P will occupy version 9.0 of the operating system. This jumps a whole number from last year’s Oreo release. Considering the update is larger compared to previous versions of the OS, I’m not surprised by it. However, we still don’t have any new Easter egg or dessert name that begins with P. Typically Google reveals this information in the fall.
With such a variety of Android devices and so many of them available with different manufacturer skins and carrier bloat, updates don’t always reach everyone. The system images for Google’s third Android P are live and linked near the bottom of the post but only for select devices. Nexus support has been cut off, leaving Pixel and Pixel 2 as eligible. Flashing will clear your device of its contents and the process is not recommended by Google nor us unless you’re familiar having done it before. Another option is to enroll in the Android P beta program here. The Android P beta program grants owners of some devices the ability to receive Android update previews over-the-air. Exiting the program ahead of the final release in reverting back to Oreo will result in data loss, but shall you remain on the program through the end, no data will be lost. Those enrolled continue to get security patches each month as normal.
For this year, Google changed up the Android beta program with advancements thanks to Project Treble. For the first time, Google branded devices aren’t the only ones eligible, as the Android beta program has opened to devices from other Android OEMs. Phone makers will provide the update for some high-end Android phones, and we’ve already seen this occur. Most of the companies in support of this are those who elect to use a lighter skin atop Android so less coding has to be done in preparing updates. Once Android P is official, these devices will be first to receive it, and more devices may be added as eligible for Android P previews as we move along. We don’t know if these devices will be updated with every Android P beta release and some require flashing. Google recommends reaching out to your OEM for release dates and information. If you don’t have a supported device, we cannot promise that you’ll ever receive the update.
New in Android P are a number of new features including UI tweaks, a fresh launcher, a new Markup feature for screenshots, a relocation of the clock, notch support, a refreshed notifications panel, a new settings menu, updated volume controls, indoor positioning with Wi-Fi RTT, enhancements for notifications and notification channels, and more. See this post that was wrote up in March that shows the full list of what’s new and how to use everything. Google also announced new features during the show including adaptive battery, adaptive brightness, app actions with slices, a new ML Kit, improved multitasking, auto-adjusting media volume, dashboard for well-being, enhanced Do Not Disturb, and a new Wind Down mode. In this particular preview, there are feature updates but aren’t any notable new features joining that we haven’t mentioned. However, included are the final APIs for developers as well as the official Android SDK (updating) and Google Play publishing for developers preparing their apps. Since this is not the final release, Google might still remove features from the software so don’t get too attached to any of them since there’s no telling if they’re permanent.
Follow the instructions at your own risk and let us know what dessert you think Android P will represent in the comments. As always, stay tuned to Droid Turf as we’re your source for extensive coverage of the Android ecosystem.
SOURCE [Android Developers]