Google on Monday announced Android 9.0 will be called “Pie” and start rolling out for all Pixel devices starting today. The news isn’t surprising, as Pixel phones are always the first phones to get the update, but in a bit of a surprise, another major Android phone is getting the update today as well: the Essential Phone.
The much maligned Essential Phone has endured constant troubles since it was announced last summer but it scored a big victory in becoming the first non-Pixel Android smartphone to get the update. Essential announced the news through its Twitter account, letting users know they can download the update now.
Essential Phone owners can go into the settings and check for the update and begin downloading Android 9.0 Pie right away.
Among the features Android Pie offers include new gesture controls, App Actions, Adaptive Battery and a refocus on mindfulness. The update will arrive to most Android devices later this year, but for now, it is only reserved for Pixel Phones and the Essential Phone.
After introducing Android P in March, Google on Tuesday revealed even more features destined for the upcoming update. One of the new features will be gesture-based navigation, similar to what Apple introduced last year with the iPhone X.
A big emphasis for Google this year is on wellbeing. In Android P, Google is overhauling the experience in an attempt to combat the growing issue of smartphone addiction.
“Technology should help you with your life, not distract you from it,” Google said. “So we’ve been working hard to add key capabilities right into Android to help you achieve your desired balance with technology.”
There will be a new Dashboard feature that will give you an overview of how much time you’ve spent on your device, with a complete breakdown of what you’ve been doing. You’ll see how many times you’ve unlocked your device, how many notifications you’ve received, and how much time you’ve spent using a particular app.
Google is also introducing a feature called Wind Down, which will essentially make your phone unappealing to the point where you’ll want to put it down.
“Wind Down will switch on Night Light when it gets dark, and it will turn on Do Not Disturb and fade the screen to grayscale at your chosen bedtime to help you remember to get to sleep at the time you want,” Google said.
Android P will also include an Adaptive Battery feature that will prioritize battery power only for apps and services you use most. So, if you use WhatsApp often, your device will prioritize that app so you can continue to communicate as your battery is dying.
App Actions is another new feature that will use machine-learning to predict your next move. Here’s the example Google uses:
Say you connect your headphones to your device, Android will surface an action to resume your favorite Spotify playlist. Actions show up throughout Android in places like the Launcher, Smart Text Selection, the Play Store, the Google Search app and the Assistant.
Building on App Actions, Android P will feature Slices, “giving you an even deeper look into your favorite apps.” In the Google Search app, if you search for Lyft, you’ll see an interactive Slice that provides interactive shortcuts, like a trip to your home or work.
I’m not entirely sure why you’d perform a Google search for Lyft when your endgame was to request a Lyft ride, but I digress.
Google is releasing a beta of Android P today, with support for devices like the Pixel, Essential Phone, and Xperia XZ2.
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