It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting longer, new hardware is being released, and Google has revealed the next version of Android. As of the March 7th release of the developer preview, we’ve worked our way down Alphabet’s alphabet all the way to “P.” We still don’t know what P is going to end up standing for (Pineapple upside-down cake?), but by now we’ve got some idea for the changes present in this latest/upcoming version of Android.
To paraphrase David, “I turned around, and it was Christmas.” Thanks to all our tipsters— we ❤ you— our collective Android Police inboxes overfloweth in a deluge of developer discovery. We’ve spent quite a lot of our time playing with Android P to show you all its new features. In fact, I’m even using it full-time on my daily driver—not that I’d recommend you do that.
By all this, we mean to say that, while we might not have discovered every new feature, we’ve uncovered quite a few. So, for both your and our convenience, we’ve put everything we’ve found together into a list with (very) brief summaries. That way you can both catch up if you’ve fallen behind with our Android P Feature Spotlights, and track future Android P features separately.
Entirely new features
- Inline photos and smart replies: remember Reply? Now you have that built into Android. Developers can also add support for showing things like images and stickers in-line as well.
- Screenshot editing: now you can crop and draw on screenshots you capture. This has been a long time coming.
- Volume buttons control media volume by default: Android does a lot of things really well, but audio management probably isn’t one of those things. Your hardware volume keys control different things, without much of an indicator until you actually press one. Now by default, it’s set to change media volume, as opposed to the ringer (as in Android O and before).
- Simultaneous connection of up to 5 Bluetooth audio devices: the limit in 8.1 was two, one for calls and one for media. But, now you can allow up to five devices to be connected at one time. No simultaneous playback, though.
- Zoom lens for text selection: like iOS has had since forever, now when you select text, you can get a nice magnified view of the area above your finger.
- Temporary rotation lock: a bit difficult to explain, but now when you have rotation set to locked in portrait, a new icon appears on the nav bar that will quickly toggle to landscape, and vice-versa.
- Alarm quick settings toggle: there’s a new Alarm tile/toggle in quick settings. It shows the next alarm, gives you a shortcut to all currently set alarms and allows you to easily set new ones.
- App notification tracking: now if you get an annoying notification, you can easily track down which app it came from. That should help cut down on notification spam (if you have problems with that).
- Wired charging sounds: Google never fails to impress. They’ve managed to miniaturize the machine that goes ping into the Android P developer preview, triggering it every time you plug your phone into power. Ah, technology.
- Chrome-like ‘feature flags’: you know how Chrome has a bunch of extra options called “flags” for enabling testing features or tweaking things? Now Android has the same thing, called “feature flags.” Basically, all the unstable testing stuff with convenient toggles in one spot.
General visual changes
- Display cutouts are now supported (i.e., notches): The ZenFone wasn’t a fluke, looks like we can expect more phones in the style of the iPhone X, and now Android will have software support for them.
- Time is now on the left side of the status bar: probably in an effort to accommodate notches, Google has decided to move the status bar clock to the left.
- Pixel Launcher is now shaded, new mic icon, separate tab for Android for Work apps: Google’s constantly making little tweaks to the Pixel launcher. Android P brings a few small visual changes, like a new shaded background and mic icon for the search bar, plus a new app dichotomy in the form of two tabs, separating Android for Work apps from personal ones.
- New colors and tweaks in Settings: it’s bright, friendly, and colorful, à la old-school TouchWiz. You’ll probably dig it.
- Ambient Display now shows battery percentage, centers notifications: notifications are now centered in Ambient Display, and you can finally see battery level without turning on your phone.
- Night Light toggle shows active time: don’t know when you set Night Light to trigger? Now the toggle/tile in quick settings will say.
- Quick settings scrolls vertically: pagination is the devil, now all your quick settings toggles and tiles can live on one scrollable page.
- Volume slider repositioned to the side of the screen, Bluetooth devices listed: Like the power menu in Oreo, Google has now moved the volume sliders to be near the buttons that control them, and Bluetooth device volumes are conveniently accessed from the new interface.
- Dat Easter egg, tho: In nine states you can have a comfortable night in with the psychedelic new Android Easter egg.
- New cell selection animation: tiny tweak, but the radiating cell select animation now looks a bit different.
- Power menu screenshot button: this has been in many a custom ROM over the years, and it’s more convenient than the hardware key combo. Good to see it hit Android proper.
- Battery saver no longer makes things orange: it wasn’t the most attractive look, but it did catch your attention. The notification is still present, though (and probably enough of an indicator).
- Unlock pattern fades as you swipe: as you enter your pattern, the trail behind your finger will fade away.
- Hawt new transition animations: not the biggest changes, but the new animations for switching between apps and activities keep things fresh. (Also, I think they look good.)
- Text selection tweaks: Google seems to have decided that the various all-caps text elements in Android were a bit much. Now the text selection dialog isn’t constantly yelling and there is a convenient new “Web search” button.
- Force stop/app version now hidden: no functionality has been changed or removed here, but in Android P the “Force stop” button and has been sequestered into a menu button, and app version is now in an “advanced” section.
- Adaptive brightness is now animated: the brightness slider now moves in real time to reflect display brightness when set to Adaptive.
Modifications to existing features
- Quick settings toggles are no longer expandable: some items in quick settings, like the Wi-Fi shortcut, used to be able to expand into a simple selector for quick changes, like swapping networks. As of Android P DP1, that is no longer the case.
- Do not disturb is now one setting, not three: “Total silence,” “Alarms only, and “Priority only” are all gone, now there’s just one Do not disturb mode. At least you can configure it to individually match any of the others.
- Location accuracy is now all or nothing, no “battery saving” mode: “battery saving” mode is gone, Location is now purely binary: enabled or disabled.
- Battery saver has too many names now, configurable percentage trigger: Battery saver has three names now, including “Reduced power mode” and “Low Battery Mode.” You can also set it to trigger at any level between 5 and 70%.
- Notification-type vibration configuration: you can now individually change or disable vibration for calls, notifications, and touch.
- Simultaneous file transfer and charging, USB menu tweaks: USB-related stuff is now consolidated into a single menu, and you can also simultaneously enable file transfer and charging.
- Battery menu nerf: per-app metrics and the Android O-style battery graph are now relegated to a developer option.
- System UI Tuner is gone (for now?): maybe it’ll come back in the future, but the System UI Tuner and its various tweaks aren’t present in Android P.
- Tag Wi-Fi networks as metered from network details: this option was previously hidden away in the “data saver” section, having it on network details in settings is a bit more intuitive.
Under the hood/API/developer stuff
- HDR VP9 and HEIF formats now supported: more efficient formats for storing video and images are natively supported by Android P.
- Multi-camera API, display-based flash, and other camera API additions/changes: can be used for simple things like portrait mode parallax/depth detection, AR, and other cool stuff.
- Measure distance to Wi-Fi access points: new location system for more precise indoor positioning.
- New autofill APIs for password managers: password managers are so hot right now, and Android P will have even better support for them.
- ART improvements—apps start faster using less memory: ART was introduced in as a replacement for the old Dalvik in Android 5.0 Lollipop, and in Android P it’s now better than ever.
- Google <3’s Kotlin: at I/O, Google revealed support for Kotlin, and now apps for Android written in the language will be faster.
- More neural network/machine learning APIs: new hardware acceleration for neural network operations, and an expansion in API functionality.
- Bug reports can now be accessed in the Files app: now bug reports are saved after they’re collected, so if you don’t immediately send it, you can still access it via the Files app (you could still do this in Oreo, but you needed to enable the power button shortcut).
So far, these are all the new features we’ve found in Android P, but be sure to check back in if you’re following our feature spotlight coverage. And, as always, tips for undiscovered features are welcome.