Android P launches in developer preview with improved messaging, AI

The new version of the OS supports screen cutouts and a multi-camera API.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Google announced the launch of Android P in developer preview, with support for new features and APIs.
  • The developer preview of Android P is a baseline for the OS, and more details will be announced at Google I/O 2018 in May.

Google has officially released Android P, the latest version of its mobile OS, in developer preview. Detailed in a official blog post on Wednesday, Android P contains a host of new features and APIs that extend the usefulness of the platform.

Organizations that have an official Android app should learn the new features described in the post and allow their developers to download and begin working with the preview. This way, they'll be able to more quickly release an app that takes advantage of Android P when it is generally available.

For starters, Android P will support the iPhone X-like notch in smartphone displays, confirming an earlier report from Bloomberg. A new developer option will allow devs to simulate the design, the post said. "If you have critical, immersive content, you can also use new APIs to check the cutout shape and request full-screen layout around it," the blog post noted.

SEE: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)

The new OS provides quite a few photo and video features as well. Android P will be supporting HDR VP9 Video, HEIF image compression, and newly-refactored media APIs, the post said. And a multi-camera API will allow stream access from "two or more physical cameras on devices running Android P," the post noted.

A new feature called ImageDecoder will be replacing BitmapFactory as the way for developers to decode images to bitmaps or drawables, the post said.

And new messaging notifications will make it easier for users to determine who is messaging them and reply more efficiently.

For more efficiency and productivity on the app side, JobScheduler will better network jobs for the user. This adds to JobScheduler's ability to manage scheduled tasks and more on Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits.

"Jobs can now declare their estimated data size, signal prefetching, and specify detailed network requirements—carriers can report networks as being congested or unmetered. JobScheduler then manages work according to the network status," the post said.

Being that Android P will support IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol (WiFi Round-Trip-Time), apps will be able to better handle indoor positioning. On Android P devices with the proper features enabled, the apps can use the APIs to check their distance relative to a nearby Wi-Fi access point, the post said. This could help retailers better enabled relevant content and deals for users as they walk through a brick-and-mortar store.

Version 1.1 of the Neural Networks API will be supported in Android P as well, leading to better on-device machine learning. According to the post, the API will support the following operations: Pad, BatchToSpaceND, SpaceToBatchND, Transpose, Strided Slice, Mean, Div, Sub, and Squeeze.

Additionally, Autofill improvements will offer better compatibility with password managers, and an implementation of the Open Mobile API will better support secure mobile payments.

Along with the new features, Android P will optimize and improve foundational aspects of Android such as ART performance, power efficiency, app compatibility, security, and privacy, while also better optimizing Kotlin.

To get started with Android P, developers can find all the necessary instructions and downloads here.

Also see

Android P logo
Image: Google

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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