Say hello to Android 9 Pie

Say hello to Android 9 Pie

The nickname for Android 9 is “Pie.” It’s not the most inspired of Android names, but it’ll do. What really matters at the end of the day are the new features in Pie — and there are plenty of those.

If you are a Pixel owner, you’ll be happy to hear that Pie will start rolling out as an over-the-air update today. The same goes for every other device that was enrolled in the Android Beta (that includes any Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and Essential devices that got the betas) and qualifying Android One devices. Everybody else, well, you know the drill. Wait until your manufacturer launches it for you… which should be the end of the year for some — and never for quite a few others.

Overall, Pie is a solid upgrade. The only real disappointment here is that Pie won’t launch with Android’s new digital wellness features by default. Instead, you’ll have to sign up for a beta and own a Pixel device. That’s because these new features won’t officially launch until the fall (Google’s hardware event, which traditionally happens in early October, seems like a good bet for the date).

Let’s talk about the features you’ll get when you update to Android 9 Pie, though. The most obvious sign that you have updated to the new version is the new system navigation bar, which replaces the standard three-icon navigation bar that has served Android users well for the last couple of iterations. The new navigation bar replaces the three icons (back, home, overview) that are virtually always on screen with a more adaptive system and a home button that now lets you swipe to switch between apps (instead of tapping on the overview button). You can also now swipe up on the home button and see full-screen previews of the apps you used recently, as well as the names of a few apps that Google thinks you’ll want to use. A second up-swipe and you get to the usual list of all of your installed apps.

In day-to-day use, I’m not yet 100 percent convinced that this new system is any better than the old one. Maybe I just don’t like change, but the whole swiping thing does not strike me as very efficient, and if you leave your finger on the home button for a split-second longer than Google expects, it’ll launch the Assistant instead of letting you swipe between apps. You get used to it, though, and you can get back to the old system if you want to.

Google’s suggestions for apps you’ll like and want to use when you swipe up feel like a nice tech demo but aren’t all that useful in day-to-day use. I’m sure Google uses some kind of machine learning to power these suggestions, but I’d rather use that area as an extended favorites bar where I can pin a few additional apps. It’s not that Android’s suggestions were necessarily wrong and that these weren’t apps I wanted to use, it’s mostly that the apps it suggested were already on my home screen anyway. I don’t think I ever started an app from there while using the last two betas.

But that’s enough grumbling, because it’s actually all of the little things that make Android 9 Pie better. There’s stuff like the adaptive battery management, which makes your battery last longer by learning which apps you use the most. And that’s great (though I’m not sure how much influence it has had on my daily battery life), but the new feature that actually made me smile was a new popup that tells you that you have maybe 20 percent of battery left and that this charge should last until 9:20pm. That’s actually useful.

Google also loves to talk about its Adaptive Brightness feature that also learns about how you like your screen brightness based on your surroundings, but what actually made a difference for me was that Google now blends out the whole settings drawer when you change the setting so that you can actually see what difference those changes make. It’s also nice to have the volume slider pop up right next to the volume buttons now.

Talking about sound: Your phone now plays a pleasant little sound when you plug in the charger. It’s the little things that matter, after all.

The other new machine learning-powered feature is the smart text selection tool that recognizes the meaning of the text you selected and then allows you to suggest relevant actions like opening Google Maps or bringing up the share dialog for an address. It’s nifty when it works, but here, too, what actually makes the real difference in daily usage is that the text selection magnifier shows you a larger, clearer picture of what you’re selecting (and it sits right on top of what you are selecting), which makes it far easier to pick the right text (and yes, iOS pretty much does the same thing).

And now we get to the part where I wish I could tell you all about the flagship Digital Wellness features in Pie (because pie and wellness go together like Gwyneth Paltrow and jade eggs), but we’ll have to wait a few days for that. Here’s what we know will be available: a dashboard for seeing where you spend time on your device; an app timer that lets you set limits on how long you can use Instagram, for example, and then grays out the icon of that app; and a Wind Down feature that switches on the night-light mode, turns on Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to grayscale before it’s bedtime.

The one wellness feature you can try now if you are on Pie already is the new Do Not Disturb tool that lets you turn off all visual interruptions. To try out everything else, you’ll have to sign up for the beta here.

Another feature that’s only launching in the fall is “slices” (like slices of pie…). I was looking forward to this one as it’ll allow developers to highlight parts of their apps (maybe to start playing a song or hail a car) in the Android Pie search bar when warranted. Maybe Google wasn’t ready yet — or maybe its partners just hadn’t built enough slices yet, but either way, we won’t see these pop up in Android Pie until later this year.

And that’s Android 9 Pie. It’s a nice update for sure, and while Google loves to talk about all of the machine learning and intelligence it’s baking into Android, at the end of the day, it’s the small quality of life changes that actually make the biggest difference.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Android P Beta 2 brings updated system images and 157 new emojis

Android P Beta 2 brings updated system images and 157 new emojis

A month after releasing the first beta version of Android P at I/O (and right in the middle of Apple’s own developers conference), Google has just released Beta 2 of its upcoming mobile operating system. The update is available to users enrolled in Google’s developer program, who have access to a Pixel device. Those who’ve already downloaded Beta 1 will get the new version automatically.

The latest build features new system images and tools designed to help developers create apps for the upcoming version of the mobile operating system. Adaptive Battery is on-board here, leveraging DeepMind to decide which apps should get the most system resources. App Actions helps developers make their apps more prominent in places like Search, the Google Assistant and the Google Launcher, while Slices provides a way to offer elements of an app without having to open it up. 

Also of note is the addition of 157 new emojis. The list includes two gender neutral emojis, offering additional options for the Family and Couple With Heart emojis, joining last year’s addition of a gender-neutral Adult emoji.

There’s a Red Hair and Superhero emoji, both of which are available in two genders and five skin tones, a bagel with cream cheese, a llama and a lobster. Sounds like a fun crew.

A handful of existing emojis have also gotten a facelift here, including Bacon, Turtle, Cricket and Salad, which drops the egg to go full-on vegan. Google notes that the new emojis may be further updated prior to Android P’s final release.

More information on the updates for devs can be found here. 

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Google I/O is nowhere near done. While the mainstream keynote just ended, the company is about to unveil the next big things when it comes to APIs, SDKs, frameworks and more.

The developer keynote starts at 12:45 PM Pacific Time (3:45 PM on the East Cost, 8:45 PM in London, 9:45 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page.

If you’re an Android developer, this is where you’ll get the juicy details about the next version of Android. You can expect new possibilities and developer tools for you and your company. We’ll have a team on the ground to cover the best bits right here on TechCrunch.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X.

“As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.”

While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017.

On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new multitasking view with your most recent apps. You can swipe left and right and select the app you’re looking for.

If you swipe up one more time, you get the app drawer with suggested apps at the very top. At any time, you can tap on the button to go back to the home screen. These gestures also work when you’re using an app. Android P adds a back button in the bottom left corner if you’re in an app.

But the most shameless inspiration is the left and right gestures. If you swipe left and right on the pill-shaped button, you can switch to the next app, exactly like on the iPhone X. You can scrub through multiple apps. As soon as you release your finger, you’ll jump to the selected app.

You can get Android P beta for a handful of devices starting today. End users will get the new version in the coming months.

It’s hard to blame Google with this one as the iPhone X gestures are incredibly elegant and efficient — and yes, it looks a lot like the Palm Pre. Using a phone that runs the current version of Android after using the iPhone X is much slower as it requires multiple taps to switch to the most recent app.

Apple moved the needle and it’s clear that all smartphones should work like the iPhone X. But Google still deserves to be called out.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Android P Beta is available today

Android P Beta is available today

There was plenty of talk about Android P at today’s big I/O kickoff — but when can you actually download the thing? Right now, as a matter of fact, if you’ve got one of a handful of compatible handsets. You can find the upgrade here, if you dare. 

The list includes the Pixel, naturally, but the company’s also partnering with a whole bunch of third-party developers, to allow a lot more users to try an early build of the mobile operating system. The list includes handsets from Nokia, Vivo, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Sony, Essential and Oppo. It’s a pretty broad spectrum of handsets, though there are some key absences here, including, notably, Samsung, HTC, LG and Huawei.

The new version of the operating system includes a number of visual upgrades, a change over the Oreo’s additions, which were largely in the backend. There are also some key new gesture based functions, putting Android more inline with recent updates to iOS for the iPhone X and the new Adaptive Battery feature, which gets more juice out of existing hardware by throttling power on under used apps.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Android P leverages DeepMind for new Adaptive Battery feature

Android P leverages DeepMind for new Adaptive Battery feature

No surprise here, Android P was the highlight of today’s Google I/O keynote. The new version of the company’s mobile operating system still doesn’t have a name (at least not as of this writing), but the company’s already highlighted a number of key new features, including, notable, Adaptive Battery.

Aimed at taking on basically everyone’s biggest complaints about their handset, the new feature is designed to make more efficient use of on-board hard. Google’s own DeepMind is doing much of the heavy lifting here, relying on user habits to determine what apps they use, when, and delegating power accordingly.

According to the company, the new feature is capable of “anticipating actions,” resulting in 30-percent fewer CPU wakeups. Google has promised more information on the feature in the upcoming developer keynote. Combined with larger on-board batteries and faster charging in recent handsets, the new tech could go a long ways toward changing the way users interact with their devices, shift the all night charge model to quick charging bursts — meaning, for better or worse, you can sleep with your handset nearby without having to worry about keeping it plugged in. 

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Watch Google I/O keynote live right here

Watch Google I/O keynote live right here
How did you find Microsoft Build yesterday? We don’t really have time for your answer because Google I/O is already here! Google is kicking off its annual developer conference today. As usual, there will be a consumer keynote with major new products in the morning, and a developer-centric keynote in the afternoon.
The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM on the East Cost, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. The developer keynote will be at 12:45 PM Pacific Time.
Rumor has it that Google is about to share more details about Android P, the next major release of its Android platform. But you can also expect some Google Assistant and Google Home news, some virtual reality news and maybe even some Wear OS news. We have a team on the ground ready to cover the event, so don’t forget to read TechCrunch to get our take on today’s news.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch