As it has for the last couple years, Google is releasing a developer preview of the next version of Android in March. Before you ask, no, we don’t know the name beyond “Android P.” , As Android P developer preview is mostly focused on the changes that will affect developers. In fact, Google VP of engineering Dave Burke is calling this “an early baseline build for developers only,” so definitely do not go flashing your main phone with this and assume it will be usable day to day.
The feature in Android P developer preview that will probably garner the most discussion is built-in support for a notch cutting into the display at the top of the screen. (Google’s term for it is “display cutout support.”) Those notches were unavoidable on new Android phones at Mobile World Congress last month, so that support is going to be important at least until companies stop blithely copying Apple’s iPhone X. In the meantime, developers will be able to test how their full-screen apps will work with notches with the new tools Google is releasing today.
Here are a few of the notable changes for developers:
- User Interface changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
- New UI for settings/quick settings
- New notification style for messages
- New transition/notification expansion animations
- Updated Pixel Launcher with voice search icon and more prominent dock
- Battery saver no longer shows orange warning
- Always on display shows battery info and centers notifications
- New Easter Egg.
- About phone screen now shows additional info in a popup window.
- Quality of Life changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
- Built-in screenshot editor.
- Screenshot button in power menu
- Text selection zoom (like iOS)
- Battery saver can now be scheduled.
- Do Not Disturb has been simplified down to a single mode
- Volume buttons now control media volume by default
- Adaptive Brightness is now much more useful as it actually changes the base brightness level
- Hotspot can be turned off automatically if no devices are connected
- Rotation can be locked to landscape mode
- Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP support
- Individual Wi-Fi networks can now be set to metered/unmetered
- Private DNS (DNS-over-TLS)
- Vibration controls in Accessibility Settings
- Accessibility option to disable all animations
- SysTrace tool is now built-in
- Recently posted notifications are now shown in notification settings
Material Design 2?
Although it doesn’t have a name yet (we strongly believe it will be called Material Design 2), Android’s user interface has received a fresh coat of paint. The most notable areas where Android P has made changes are to the quick settings tiles (now vertically paginated rather than horizontally) and to the settings pages, but there are also more minor changes to the status bar that we should take note of.
As you can see in the screenshots above, the icons in settings all have distinct colors now. In comparison, the settings icons in Android Oreo were a dull, muted gray color. The quick settings toggles, meanwhile, are all now rounded and are blue when enabled. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the ability to expand quick settings tiles within the notification shade.
The all-new notification panel
This one may be a bit controversial. As you can see in the screenshots above, notifications have a new style. Full conversations can now be shown as can stickers and images. Smart replies are also there, similar to what the Reply app offers.
When you long-press on a notification, the buttons now show “stop notifications” or “keep showing.” A quick way to decide if you want notifications from an app without diving into settings.
New Transition Animations
This one is big, and almost immediately noticeable. There are new animations for transitioning between activities, and new animations for opening an activity from the notifications. We’ve captured them on video so you can see what they look like.
A very subtle change in the Pixel Launcher (which has already been ported to other devices) is that the search bar now has a microphone icon so you can start a voice search. The background is now also more prominent, so it’s clearer where the dock begins and the rest of the launcher ends.
Screenshot in Power Menu
No longer will you have to fumble around with key combinations to take a screenshot. It’s right there in the power menu!