Google’s I/O 2018 has kicked off with artificial intelligence as its main theme, affecting everything from its flagship Android P software to Google Maps. The company still hasn’t announced the name of the latest iteration of its OS, but it did go into great detail about the changes to expect.
One big surprise is availability, since Google is not rolling out the Android P beta to just the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. Thanks to last year’s Project Treble initiative, the build can also be accessed by people who own the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1.
As for what they’ll find, some of the tweaks such as support for iPhone X-like notch designs have already been disclosed in the Android P developer preview. The public beta focuses on the consumer side of things, promising a smarter phone with machine learning at its core. It’s basically a bunch of subtle changes adding up to a bigger shift.
For instance, Android P boasts of an Adaptive Battery tool which uses AI to funnel energy to apps and services which are being utilized the most. There’s also Adaptive Brightness to automatically adjust the light based on a person’s surroundings.
App Actions can now predict what a user does next, such as restarting a Spotify playlist on plugging in headphones. Diving even deeper, Slices can bring up part of the app itself. Searching for Lyft in Google Search triggers results which feature the price and times for going to work or home. Tapping on them opens up the Lyft app to complete the transaction.
We’re not sure how useful this could be, since it would be faster to just open Lyft instead of doing a Google search for Lyft. Moving on, Android P now comes with iPhone X-esque navigation gestures. The virtual home button has transformed into a pill shape and a swipe up opens the revamped Overview multitasking window, now with support for Smart Text Selection.
A second swipe up opens Android P’s app drawer. This might confuse some folks at first, since the two required separate actions before. People can also pull the home button horizontally to scroll through their recently used apps.
Google is trying to help individuals fight smartphone addiction by telling them exactly how addicted they are. The first weapon in this battle is Dashboard, a simple tool telling people how long they’ve spent glued to one app, the amount of notifications they’ve received, and how many unlocks they’ve performed.
The second weapon is App Timer, letting users set a time limit on applications. It’ll nudge them when it’s almost over and then gray out the icon. The third weapon is Wind Down. It grays out the entire screen when it’s time for bed, switches on Night Light when it’s dark, and switches on Do Not Disturb.
Do Not Disturb has gotten even more extreme now. Other than quieting calls and notifications, it’ll also silence visual interruptions. Turning a phone on a surface automatically activates the mode, so people will have to be careful not to accidentally trigger it.
As for security-related updates, Android P now comes with enhancements like encrypted backups, Protected Confirmations, and DNS over TLS. You can sign up for the beta version of the software here.