Google has ended this year’s guessing game with the most generic answer possible: Android 9.0 is going to be called Android Pie, and it’s being released for Google’s Pixel devices today. Over-the-air updates will begin rolling out to Google’s Pixel devices in the next few hours, while anyone with a different Android phone will have to wait until sometime in the fall for their smartphone manufacturer to get their act together. The only exception is Essential, which is saying that the Android Pie update will be available for the Essential PH-1 today.
In Android’s long dessert-themed history, I’m not sure that there’s been a name as generic as “pie.” I’m not exactly sad that Google passed up another branding opportunity — after Android Kit-Kat and Android Oreo, we didn’t really need Android Pop-Tart — but would it have been that hard to have Android Pumpkin Pie?
Android P was first released as a beta version all the way back in March, so there shouldn’t be any surprises left as far as new features go. Anyone who has used an iPhone X is going to be pleasantly surprised, as Android Pie integrates a bunch of swipe features into Android’s UI. Swiping up from below brings up the app selection menu and swiping from the bottom to the right takes you to a multitasking screen where you can switch between whatever apps you might have open. It looks a whole lot like what Apple has implemented on the button-free iPhone X home screen, and will no doubt draw a plenty of comparisons. With the switch to all-screen phones without any physical buttons virtually complete, the gesture navigation support does make sense.
As you’d expect from Google, Android Pie also leans heavily on Google’s AI platform to try and make the smartphone experience better. A feature called App Actions is an AI-powered predictive feature that attempts to predict what you’re about to use your phone for. It crunches a bunch of data based on your past actions and then makes it easier to repeat those actions later. Things like resuming music when you plug in headphones or popping up an call shortcut for a contact you often contact.
Although Android Pie is released and available for Google Pixel devices today, there’s still a few features that are going to wait until the general roll-out in the fall to be available. They include Slices (I guess that was a big hint at the Pie moniker), which shows a short relevant “slice” of an app’s information when the system deems it necessary, as well as Google’s new digital wellbeing apps.