We Love Pie!
The new Android OS is now officially named Android Pie and is available on Google's own Pixel phones – the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. This means that the Nexus 5X or 6P is out of the running for the moment, unfortunately.
And for the first time ever, Google included non-Pixel or Nexus phones as part of its Android beta testing program.
• Nokia 7 Plus
• OnePlus 6
• Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
• Essential PH 1
• Sony Xperia XZ2
• OPPO R15 Pro
• Vivo X21
According to Google, "devices that participated in the Beta program from Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as all qualifying Android One devices, will receive this update by the end of this fall." Makers of 'eligible' devices running Android One will also be getting Pie by the autumn.
Unless mentioned above, Google's general ambition is to roll out Pie "this year" which is pretty vague, but some Android smartphone manufacturers have started to drop some clues.
Essential - Just a few minutes after Google announced that Android Pie will begin rolling out to its Pixel phones, Essential announced on Twitter that the Essential Phone was also getting its Pie update on Monday the 6th August. "We're proud to bring Android 9 Pie to Essential Phone the same day it's released! Check your phone now for the update." This is the first non-Pixel phone to get the Pie update so far.
HTC – HTC recently tweeted the following announcement – "We're pleased as pie to confirm updates to Android Pie for the HTC U12+, U11+, U11, and U11 life (Android One). Timeframes for roll-out will be announced in due course." Which suggests these models would be included in Googles Autumn deadline.
Huawei - While not involved in either the beta or the Android One series, Huawei has been reported to be offering Android Pie to select smartphone owners. A spokesperson for the company was quoted as saying that "in China it had already started offering Pie to some users, but that the number was very limited." The models said to be compatible with Android Pie in China at the moment are the P20 series and the Mate 10 Pro.
Honor - As a sub-brand of Huawei, Honor is already said to be working to bring Pie to its top-spec handsets. It's been reported that a spokesperson for the company confirmed it was currently adapting the Honor 10 and Honor View 10 for Android Pie and that they would be gradually introducing the new operating system to other handsets.
LG - With none of LG's phones using Android One, or selected for the beta, LG looks to be at the back of the queue for getting Pie to its users. We will have to wait and see whether the G7 ThinQ, G6, V30 will be issued the new OS by the end of the year.
Nokia - Nokia's 7 Plus was one of the lucky handsets chosen for the beta, so full versions for that, and hopefully for the company's other phones, will be following in a few months.
OnePlus - The OnePlus6 was involved in Google's Android P beta, and will shortly get the final version. It has been reported that the OnePlus5/5T would be next to receive the update, followed by the OnePlus3/3T which will skip over the previous version of Android, 8.1, in order to do this.
Samsung - Samsung were not on the beta and there is no news about when its top end models such as the Galaxy S9 or Note 9 will receive Android Pie. Samsung are still working to add the previous version, Oreo, onto existing mid and low-end models which is estimated to go on until March 2019, indicating that users of models such as the Galaxy J7, On5 and On7, C7 and Tab A may be behind with their operating system for some time.
Sony - The Xperia XZ2 was one of the models Google used for beta testing so we can expect the finalised Pie to be on the XZ2 in Autumn, and hopefully the rest of the Xperia range below it coming shortly after.
All the news and reviews indicate that the new Android operating system isn't filled with a ton of flashy new features, but instead is focusing on performance and reliability. There are a lot of minor tweaks in this version of Android that aim to make your digital life easier.
USER INTERFACE NAVIGATION - In 2011 with the release of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google introduced Android's iconic three-button navigation system – Back, Home, and Recents. Now 7 years on Android's three navigation icons at the bottom of the phone have been replaced by one digital button in the centre of the homescreen and a more gesture-based system. This will make it easier for manufacturers to create bezel-less devices.
Android Pie is the first time Google's heavily relying on gestures for navigating the user interface, and in their current form, they work as follows:
• Tap the Home button/pill to go home - a long-press will get you Google Assistant
• Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (like a quick flick) to access the recent apps page - a quick swipe up from the bottom of your screen and you can easily scroll through all of the apps that you've recently used. To open up one of these apps simply tap it.
• A long swipe up from the bottom to the top of the screen opens the app drawer – and you can do that same swipe while in an open app. So, while the new swiping action may take some time to get used to, you no longer have to go to your home screen just to access all your other apps.
• The Back button only appears in certain apps/menus when it's needed
This combination of taps and swipes will take a bit of getting used to, and phones that are updated to Pie will still use the three-button nav by default which the user can choose to change this to the new gesture navigation, but going forward, phones like the Pixel 3 will have gestures turned on by default with no way to revert back to the old 3 button style.
USING INDOOR MAPS - Android Pie adds support for the IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol. "What is that?" I hear you say. Well, if location sharing is activated, Android Pie can measure distances to certain Wi-Fi points and using data from three points can triangulate your location to within one metre.
So, this means that indoor mapping on mobile phones has now become a very possible possibility, and if this is the case there'll be no more getting lost in giant supermarkets, expansive shopping centres, museums, uni/college campuses.
A NEW WAY TO SCREENSHOT - Holding both the power button and volume button on Android phones has always been a fiddly way to take screenshots. Or that stupid swipe across the screen that hardly ever works and more often does nothing but mess with what you're looking at! Google has thankfully made it a lot easier, so all that needs to be done now is hold only the power button for a couple of seconds and it will give you three options: power off, restart and screenshot! A tap on the last of these options will save whatever is on screen to your device.
DIGITAL WELLNESS - At this year's I/O conference, Google talked a lot about helping people with their "digital wellbeing" and they put a lot of features into Android Pie to help their users do just that.
A new Android Dashboard shows you how long you are spending on your phone each day, how you're using your phone, which apps you're using the most, how many times you've turned on the screen, how many notifications you've received from each app and how much time you've spent on each app. You'll also find a feature called App Timers where you can set yourself limits that'll stop you from using a certain app after you've spent your set amount of time on it.
There is also a wind-down mode which sets a schedule for going to bed. Colour fades from your screen as it turns to greyscale and your do-not-disturb activates to stop notifications.
Big tech companies are starting to consider the Time Well Spent movement– the idea we're all using our devices too much and need to have better tools available to control ourselves. While Google is the first to develop these features in their latest version of operating system, others will be following suit. It's been reported that Apple's iOS 12 will have something very similar when it launches later this year, whilst Facebook and Instagram already launched app-level time limit tools on August 1.
AI ADAPTIVITY - Android Pie has adaptive battery and brightness modes. Using Google's AI machine learning it collects data on the times you use certain apps and when you change the brightness on the device.
It starts to learn patterns of behaviour and the Adaptive Brightness will automatically adjust your display's brightness level based on your environment and usage, whilst the Adaptive Battery will examine how you use your phone and restrict the CPU usage on apps it knows you don't use often. Google states that the Adaptive Battery element can lower CPU usage by as much as 30%, and with the AI machine learning it'll get better at doing this for you the more you use your phone.
APP SHORTCUTS - With Android Pie, Google has introduced App Actions and Slices. These are based on prediction with a pinch of AI learning to.
Prediction examples - connect a set of headphones to your phone and the playlist you last listened to will appear. Ask your Google assistant about booking a car and the Lyft app (for example – other apps may be available!) would open on your phone and display the Slice of the app that asks you to enter the details about your ride.Machine Learning examples – if you watch the same YouTube channel every morning on your commute, you may start to see an App Shortcut in your app drawer for searching that channel on YouTube during the morning.
157 NEW EMOJI - We love an emoji and have a whole load of updated and new ones to play with in this update.
Some of our favourites are the drunk emoji (I think this officially named "woozy face"), the llama, red haired, grey haired and bald-headed people emojis, a water pistol in place of a gun now, cupcake and the loo roll. Check out all of the new emoji here!
BIOMETRICS - Fingerprint sensors and face recognition unlock systems make it easy to securely access private information on our phones, and in Android Pie, Google have added a brand-new standard for this called "BiometricPrompt API."
The BiometricPrompt API depends on strong biometric features returning a value that says you are a match before it acts as successful. This means it will be more difficult to fool a face scanner with a photo, for example. By having a way for every android app developer to tap into a set of known strong biometric authentication techniques, they won't have to build their own or depend on weaker and less secure methods. This isn't something you'll notice in day-to-day use, but it's an important background change and helps users to trust that an app or service is properly built to keep their identity and login safe.
All in all, the release of Android Pie OS has been waited for in the mobile and tech community with much excitement and anticipation, and it has not disappointed!