Last month Google introduced the first Android Beta update with Android P Developer Preview 3. Developers, manufacturers and enthusiasts with compatible devices have been testing the software with hope that bugs and issues get patched. Earlier this week, Google released its next platform upgrade of the mobile OS overhaul with Android P Developer Preview 4 and the second update to the beta program. Here’s everything to know and all the information you need to get started.
Google has a total of five developer previews planned and earlier than usual so that manufacturers and developers can prepare updates for their devices and apps in time for the public roll out. This could contribute to older devices and those with an Android skin receiving updates sooner, which has always been a problem on Android. Despite some improvements with Project Treble, the goal of reducing fragmentation has not gone as planned. Android P will release publicly in late August according to Google’s timeline, yet many Android flagship smartphones still run Nougat from 2016. While OEMs made some progress with newer devices, some companies have been better than others with keeping devices up to date. Many presume Google will hold a hardware event to announced Pixel 3 phones and a possible mid-ranger to debut Android P this fall. We’re getting closer, but before we get there, the search giant will release one last preview, the fifth build of Android P coming in early August if things run according to schedule.
Android P is a larger software update than previous system upgrades containing lots of new features, new navigation, and design updates. We knew about quite a few changes from March when the first preview released, and Google talked more about the major visual changes at Google I/O 2018 which we detailed here. Only those with compatible hardware are able to use the software and report feedback to Google. Some features are unfinished and some bugs do still exist, but progress has been toward making the platform upgrade more stable. It’s not perfect by any means, so you might want to stay away from your daily driver if you heavily rely on it.
Preview 3 didn’t add much, but there are actually some new capabilities in Preview 4. We already know that Android P will occupy version 9.0 of the operating system, jumping a whole number from last year’s Oreo release. And now, there’s a manual theme switch for alternating between light and dark themes. While the themes are nothing new, Pixel device owners now have more control over their device theme. We saw it coming and now it’s a feature in Android P. Also included is everything needed for developers to conduct full-scale testing on their apps in preparation of the final software release. This entails the final system behaviors, optimizations, final APIs, and the stable version of the Android Support Library. Full information can be seen here. We still don’t have any dessert name that begins with P though, as Google typically waits and reveals this information in the fall once the public release takes place.
With such a variety of Android devices, updates don’t often reach everyone. The system images for Google’s fourth Android P build are now live and linked at the bottom of this post. Nexus support was cut off earlier this year, leaving Google’s Pixel and Pixel 2 as eligible. Flashing will clear your device of all its contents and is not recommended by Google nor us unless you know what you’re doing. Google has also brought back the option to enroll in the Android beta program here. The Android P beta program allows select device owners to receive the Android previews over-the-air. Shall one exit the program before the final release of Android P is administered, all data will be lost. Shall one remain on the program through the full release cycle, data loss isn’t an issue. Security patches continue to roll out monthly as normal.
As a reminder, the tech and research giant changed things up this year thanks to advancements with Project Treble. Unlike before, Android P previews are available for devices from Android OEMs other than Google. Phone makers are providing updates for some high-end Android phones, and we continue to see more devices gain support and retrieve updates. Most OEMs who elect to do this are those who use a lighter skin atop Android since less is needed to be done in preparing updates. Once Android P is officially released, these devices should be first in line for it. Some devices aren’t being updated with every Android P pre-release and others require flashing. If you’re not sure what to do, reach out to your OEM for assistance. Unfortunately, those of you with an unsupported device may not receive the update. We’ll know more once the update comes out publicly on Pixel, and hopefully be able to pass along good news.
As far as features go, Android P introduced a number of them 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 with all the major new features and how to use everything. Google also announced new features during its developer conference back in May 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 many feature updates but few new additions. Since this is not the final release, Google could still remove features so don’t get too attached to any 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]