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 is under investigation for abusing Android
Dominating the market comes with a price
Google has often been accused of monopolizing the smartphone market with the use of Android. While Android as an operating system is open source and anyone is free to make or use the system however they wish, Google’s push of its apps is a bigger problem.
Android is maintained by the search engine giant and the code is available for everyone’s use. But, Google pushes its range of apps in stock Android like Gmail, Maps, Play Music, YouTube, and more. Many accuse the company of forcing itself upon users and blocking the competition from a fair chance.
India’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been reviewing Google’s case for the last six months. The enforcement agency is currently at a preliminary stage and no official release has been made. Google, as well as CCI, have declined to comment.
The European Commission found Google guilty of dominating the market since 2011 and it’s abusing its standard practice of installing Google apps. The investigation led to a US$ 5 billion fine from the antitrust agency.
Google and CCI have met in recent months and the complaint was filled by a “group of individuals.” The agency has a track record of taking years to finish or conclude a case and we never know when a verdict might actually come.
Although, the CCI did impose a US$ 19 million fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position.
Android has a massive 85 percent market share and almost every Android phone ships with Google’s suite of apps. These apps, in return, help the search engine push ads to the user and generate revenue for the company.
EA is looking into making a mobile version of Apex Legends
To battle with Fortnite
EA‘s battle royale game is a certified hit. Apex Legends, which was developed by Titanfall makers Respawn, has no fewer than 25 million registered players in just one week. The game is playable for free on multiple platforms (PC, PS4, and Xbox One), but why not make it available on mobile as well?
Early reports don’t indicate mobile plans for the game, although during the Electronic Arts Q3 2019 earnings call, EA Games CEO said that they are looking into bringing Apex Legends to mobile devices.
Fortnite‘s userbase ballooned when it became available on Android and iOS, so it’s a no brainer than EA also wants mobile gamers to join the fun.
“We are looking at how to take the game to mobile and cross-play over time, and I also expect that this game will have tremendous value in Asia, and we’re in conversations about that,” EA Games CEO Andrew Wilson said during the conference call.
There’s no definite timeline for the release of Apex Legends on mobile, but it’s certainly on the drawing board. For now, EA plans to introduce direct purchase options for players to buy items and new legends or heroes. They will also offer the so-called Apex Packs or simply loot boxes for more random items.
Apex Legends is not a pay-to-win game, so these items are purely cosmetic and can be used to customize your hero’s looks in the game.
Introducing Bumble’s Spotlight: Pay to get to the top of the page
For just two Bumble coins!
You can’t buy your way to true love but you can now buy a top spot on Bumble’s swipe page.
You heard that right. Bumble just announced their new feature and they’re calling it Spotlight. For two Bumble coins, which is around US$ 2, you can get your own profile to the top of the swipe page — the most conducive spot for swiping. Your profile stays there for 30 minutes and people won’t even know you paid for the extra airtime.
Hi Martin! Spotlight is designed to advance your profile to the top for the stack to be viewable by more people instantly. When you use two Bumble Coins to activate Spotlight, for 30 minutes we will shuffle your profile to the top without anyone knowing. 💛
— Bumble (@bumble) February 6, 2019
Similar to Tinder Boost, this new feature allows for a bigger shot at better swiping results. It basically bumps you up in the queue. Remember, though, that you can only pay for being more visible on the app, but the swiping is still left to the other party.
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