Android P Developer Preview: What you need to know

Let the name guessing begin



The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android P, is finally here, but don’t get too excited just yet. This is only a developer preview.

A developer what? This means it’s an early build meant for app developers and not consumers. This is important in finding bugs and creating optimized software before the final version begins rolling out.

But while this release is targeted toward software specialists, there’s a bunch of info regular users like us can learn from this early peak into Android P. Here are some things you must know:

Android P has no official name yet

Android Pie? Android Peanut? Nope, sorry — there’s no dessert tagged to Android P at the moment. That’s something we’ll learn between July and August 2018, a year after Android Oreo became official.

What’s more or less certain is this will be the ninth version of Android, and that it feels too early to release considering how few users actually have Oreo on their devices.

Most improvements are on the back end for now

This being a developer preview, a lot of the tweaks are currently happening from behind the curtains (or user interface in this case). Watch and see how geared this early build is for app makers:

But that doesn’t mean we won’t see any visual changes to Android P in the coming months. Based on the back-end improvements we’ve seen so far, some design cues and menus will have to shift, especially since…

It’ll have support for phones with a notch

The biggest — and possibly most disappointing — trend in smartphones is the inclusion of a notch or cutout at the top of a borderless display. However, smartphone manufacturers argue that it’s necessary in pursuing an all-screen front while maintaining key hardware like the earpiece and selfie camera.

Whatever the case, we have to accept the notch as more and more brands adopt it into their designs. Likewise, Android P will begin building its interface around the dead space. Notice how the clock is now positioned to the left in the above image; this will supposedly even out the icons in case a notch rests in between.

Quick settings and notifications are getting revamped

Notch or not, the quick settings and notifications on top will look a lot different. These previews from Google are the clearest looks we have so far of the design revamps:

You’ll notice the circular borders around the quick setting icons and the rounded edges of the notification shade. Each notification also includes more visuals, such as user icons and full-blown images from messages. There are even integrated smart replies for quick responses straight from the pull-down menu.

Android P won’t support the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C

Sadly, the last batch of Nexus smartphones and Google’s former flagship tablet aren’t getting a dose of this year’s Android flavor. Having been launched in 2015, they’ve reached the end of their software lifespan, but that doesn’t mean independent hackers won’t find a way to get Android P into these classic gadgets.

As anticipated, 2016’s Pixel and Pixel XL will be on the receiving end, along with last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Although nothing is certain yet with the current crop of Android One phones, all recent releases should get Android P by the end of the year.

We’ll learn more at Google I/O

The next major build will arrive in May during Google I/O, which is the company’s conference for announcing software-based updates. It’s this version that’ll officially be called a beta build, and will be available to the public for download. This is how it played out last year:


Google rolls out Dark mode to G Suite apps on Android

A feature meant for Android Q



Image credit: Google

With Android Q‘s release already on the horizon, Google has started making changes to its core apps to support it. One of its anticipated features is the system-wide Dark Theme. Thankfully, even Google’s first-party apps will have their own Dark mode.

In a blog post, Google announced the rollout of Dark mode for two of its Android apps: Calendar and Keep. Basically, the brightly made Calendar and Keep apps will now be friendlier to use in dim environments with less strain to the eyes.

To activate the Dark mode for Google Calendar, just head over to Settings > General > Theme, and select Dark mode. On Google Keep, simply go to the app’s Settings menu and select Enable Dark Mode.

Dark mode for Calendar is only supported on devices running Android 7 Nougat and higher, while Keep’s Dark mode will work on older phones running Android 5 Lollipop and newer.

Those who have Android Q Beta with Dark Theme activated will have Dark mode for both Calendar and Keep apps turned on by default.

The update will be rolled out to compatible Android devices over the course of 15 days, according to Google.

SEE ALSO: Latest Android Q Beta is now available on Pixel phones and 15 other devices

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Minecraft Earth is like Pokémon Go but with building blocks



In a move that makes loads of sense, Minecraft is coming to mobile though an augmented reality app similar to Pokémon Go.

It’s called Minecraft Earth and it’s arriving later this year with a beta phase happening during summer. The developers offered this trailer, but it does little to explain how the system would work.

Check it out:

The official website’s FAQ section, however, delves into more of the info we actually care about.

For one, it’ll be free to play and will include several of Minecraft‘s traditional features including world building and discovering/fighting mobs.

Concerning regional availability, the developers aren’t confirming these details just yet. If it’s anything like the issues Niantic experienced with Pokémon Go before, chances are this rollout will be gradual, too.

Finally, for the “Will Minecraft Earth have loot boxes?” question, the website has a definite “No” to answer that.

Minecraft Earth will be available on both Android and iOS. Fingers crossed that there’ll be no delays. 🤞

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The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World through augmented reality

A new way to experience Lady Liberty on your iPhone



The quintessential American landmark, the Statue of Liberty is a shining beacon that enlightens the world. Despite today’s polarizing times, she has become a true symbol of liberty throughout the years, not just for Americans but for citizens of the world.

Today on the same island where she is perched, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens its doors to the millions of tourists that come to see her each year. But in recognition that not everyone can visit, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is also unveiling an AR app for your iPhone. Anyone, anywhere, can experience the statue’s grandeur.

A grand view of Libertas’ torch

On her right, the Statue of Liberty holds up a torch which symbolizes enlightenment and the path to liberty. Though visitors could originally climb up and experience the statue from the torch, it has been closed off to the public since 1916. The Statue of Liberty app will allow us to once again enjoy the breathtaking cityscape from this vantage point from sunrise to sunset.

The makings of the statue

Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with the framework by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty is an engineering marvel. 125 tons of steel and 31 tons of copper comprise the statue which used to glisten like a penny. The current patina green coating comes from copper oxidizing.

See everything with your own eyes via the Statue of Liberty AR app: how the color changed, how the insides were built, and even a life-sized model for scale.

A look throughout the years

Strategically built at the “gateway to America”, the Statue of Liberty has born witness to a significant chunk of New York’s history. On the app you can look through her eyes in an almost 180-degree field of view and watch the changing of the times from 1886 to the present day. Watch the Manhattan skyline rise and fall including that poignant moment from 2001. It’s all there, 200 years of change and progression from the viewpoint of Lady Liberty.

The hows and the whys

The creation of the Statue of Liberty was no easy feat. A private venture that maximized crowdfunding efforts not just from the elite, the statue is truly an icon that each American can call their own. Exclusive content on the app tells us the story in detail and narrates the journey from inception, to France, and finally to America.

If you can, you should also check out the 3-part short film at the new museum’s Immersive Theater. One will surely walk away with a better appreciation for Lady Liberty and all she stands for.

Raising the Torch, a limited-series podcast narrated by Diane von Furstenberg, is also now available for your listening pleasure. The saga tells the Statue of Liberty’s history, continuing story, and evolving significance.

You can download the app on the App Store here.

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