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The 5 biggest feature changes from the Android P developer preview

Published Mar 7th, 2018 5:26PM EST
Android P developer preview changes features
Image: Google

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Earlier today, Google released the first developer preview of its upcoming software release, Android P. The first developer preview is always a little rough around the edges and devoid of many of the finishing touches, but there’s still a bunch of new stuff for us to feast our eyes on.

The biggest change from a design perspective, and the one feature everyone is talking about so far, is a full-body embrace of the notch. Android P will manage the status bar to match the height of the notch cutout, and it also contains features for developers to control how the notch is displaying content. But the notch changes aren’t all that’s different, so we’ve rounded up the five most significant feature changes for you.

Better notifications

Notifications have a more minimal look in Android P, with a design that matches the rest of the update’s aesthetic. The notification cards have newly rounded corners and a simple line separating each individual notification. The notifications themselves have also got new layouts and features, like showing contact images and profile pictures into the notification.

Smart replies are also natively integrated into the notifications on messaging apps. If you’ve used Google’s Reply app, or the smart replies feature for Gmail, the AI recommendations for replies should be familiar.

New settings pulldown

Android and iOS (on the iPhone X, at least) both support a settings quick-pulldown menu, where you can change basic settings with a single tap on an icon. Android’s implementation has always been a little messy, and the process has received a facelift. The minimized quick settings menu, which you see above notifications when you swipe down, has the same rounded corners as the new notifications, as well as icons that dynamically change based on the action.

Indoor positioning

Google Maps is the best navigation app you can get for your phone, and with Android P, Google is trying to tackle the difficult business of navigating yourself indoors. Android devices will be able to use a new Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11mc, also known as Wi-Fi RTT. It measures the time taken for a Wi-Fi signal to reach the device to calculate the device’s distance from an access point. Once you know the distance from a handful of access points and you know the location of the access point, it’s relatively easy to triangulate the client device’s location.

Google claims that the result is typically accurate to within one or two meters, and it says there’s no security concern, since your device doesn’t need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to use RTT. Google says that the indoor location API will allow for indoor navigation, but also more context-aware smart commands, like “turn off this light.”

Notch simulator

As mentioned, Android P’s headline feature is support for the “display cutout,” which is a fancy Google way of saying “notch” without reminding anyone of the iPhone X. Android P will easily allow developers to simulate a full-screen experience around the notch, or embrace the “ears” wholeheartedly and move content around it. With the developer preview, Google has made it possible to simulate all the different flavors of notch to see how the app deals with different kinds of cutout. Expect many “how to make your Android device into a cheap iPhone X” articles coming soon.

Screenshot editor

Android P has a built-in screenshot editor called “Markup,” which lets you crop and doodle on screenshots, much like you can in iOS 11. 9to5Google spotted the feature, which is similar to something Google rolled out in the Google app last month. The app has basic controls for image editing, including cropping, rotating, and a bunch of colors to make doodles.

The real differentiator is the fact that you can get to Markup directly from a screenshot notification. Just tap “Edit” on the bottom of the notification, and you get to Markup, where you can make and save any changes. It should streamline the process of screenshotting something and then sending it or sharing on social media, which is the whole idea.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.

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