Android P release date, Features and what to expect
Dainty is known about the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, but we’re already hearing rumors that Google has started working on Android P, and that it’s being made fresh to support phones with notches, as well as devices that will sport more than one display or a flexible one, like the rumored Samsung Galaxy X/S9.
Last year’s Android Oreo may not have been the most visually different upgrade compared to 2016’s Nougat, but even so, the additions of picture-in-picture, Google’s Autofill API, adaptive app icons, etc. make it the most mature and well-polished version of the software to-date. Android P (9.0) will most likely be announced during Google I/O 2018, which we expect to take place in mid-May, potentially 16-18 May 2018. It is possible we’ll see an earlier release in March, as we did in 2017 with Oreo. At this point a Developer Preview will be released, which can be installed on recent Google Pixel devices but should really be left to those who know what they’re doing. A few public betas will follow, and we expect to see the final consumer release in August 2018.
Those with vanilla interfaces – such as Nokia, which has already confirmed Android P updates for all 2017 phones – will be among the first to roll out the update, then the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC will begin rolling out Android 9.0 in late 2018/early 2019. Android has long had a fragmentation problem, with many devices stuck on very old versions and even those which will ultimately get the latest release often taking many months to do so.With Android P we’d like to see Google push to get the update on more devices, faster. In fact, Google is already working on this somewhat with Project Treble, a feature which should mean it’s less work for manufacturers to update their devices. One of the things we typically praise about stock Android is that it’s free of bloat, but that can also mean it’s light on features, such as the ability to move the search bar and date widget. They are currently glued to the bottom and top of the home screen respectively in the stock version of Android Oreo.
Most people will probably be happy with that, but we’d like the ability to move them anywhere on the screen with Android P, like you can with most widgets. Some third-party launchers let you customize gestures, screen transitions and the like, but for the most part what you see is what you get with Android Oreo. There’s nothing stopping you switching the stock launcher for a third-party one to gain those options, but then you lose the Oreo look and feel, so for Android P we want more customization built-in.The Pixel Launcher is actually available on Google Play, but only for Google’s own devices, so with Android P we’d like to see its availability and compatibility widened. Once you get a new version of Android on your device, you won’t necessarily get all the features straight away. For example, Google Assistant took a while to arrive on many devices even once they had Android Nougat, and Google Lens doesn’t come as part of the core Android Oreo update.
Picture-in-picture is one of the big new features of Android Oreo, but it’s actually quite limited, with many apps not supporting it. That may well change over time, but if it’s not fixed as part of Oreo we want to see it available for most or all video apps as part of Android P. While Android is great on phones, there’s a sense that less focus has been put on the tablet experience in recent years, and that’s all the more noticeable now that Apple has launched the tablet-focused iOS 11.Google could learn from this, and we’d like to see it add the likes of system-wide drag-and-drop and more native tablet apps with Android P. Bringing Google Assistant to tablets wouldn’t hurt either.