This detailed walkthrough will go over everything that’s new in Android P, Google’s latest software for smartphones and tablets. We’ll show you what’s new, what changed so far, then compare those changes to Android 8.0 Oreo for owners. Including new features from Android P Preview 3 (beta 2). This way you’ll know exactly what to expect when Android 9.0 P gets released later this year.
You’ll find tons of software and visual changes in Android P, and many of them are noticeable right away. Android P looks a lot different in multiple areas. At the same time, there are dozens of behind the scenes tweaks that will make a big difference too. Some noteworthy additions include smarter bundled notifications, simpler settings, themes, new quick settings, and a revamped look and feel in a lot of places.
Google promises an experience that’s smarter, faster, easier to use and more powerful. An experience that’s better than the Android 8.0 Oreo software most users recently received. You’re probably still getting used to Oreo, but here’s everything changing later this year with Android P.
Android P is a free software update for smartphones, tablets and other supported devices. It will be Android 9.0 when it arrives. We’re not expecting a release date until August or September of 2018, although the Android P beta is available right now. Google does beta tests to help speed up the release of new software.
Currently, most Google Pixel and Nexus devices are enjoying Android 8.1 Oreo. However, most phones from other manufacturers like Samsung or LG are on Android 8.0 Oreo, or still waiting for it. Expect carriers and manufacturers to continue working hard on updates as 2018 continues.
It’s worth mentioning that any phone released with Android 8.0 Oreo should get a fast update to Android P. Faster than any prior software, as Google made big changes to speed up software upgrades. That’s an important aspect we’ll keep an eye on throughout the year and into 2019.
What’s New in Android P
Before we begin it’s important to know that this is an early developer preview of Android P. Even if Google released the Android P Developer Preview 3 (beta 2) in June. That means that while there’s plenty that’s new, stuff could change or end up drastically different later this year. Furthermore, since this is a preview it doesn’t have every new feature, not yet. When Android P gets released in August or September there will be a ton of changes, a lot more than we’re showing you today.
We learned a lot about Android 9.0 P at Google I/O in May and then saw more changes from the 3rd preview in June. Expect a fourth and final Android 9.0 P preview in July before the global release date. Basically, they’re saving a few big surprises for later. Right now it’s all subtle tweaks or visual changes that improve the experience over Android Oreo.
Still, we’re seeing support for a “notch” in the display like the iPhone X. This is because a lot of new Android phones have one, and it looks like Google’s Pixel 3 will too. Google also added a new multi-camera API for all the dual-rear camera smartphones. You’ll also notice auto-fill improvements, better fingerprint scanner support, digital wellbeing controls, smarter notifications, user interface tweaks, a revamped settings menu with colorful notifications, and other changes.
A big feature in Android P is “background app privacy”. This essentially cuts off access to the camera and microphone from apps running in the background. It’s one more way to ensure a users privacy. We received new power efficiency tweaks, a vertical on-screen volume toolbar, and a quick screenshot button when you tap volume up or down.
The redesigned quick settings icons, notifications, settings menu, gesture controls and always-on display are what you’ll notice first. You’ll even see a battery percentage meter on the bottom of your screen, even when it’s turned off.
Android P vs Android 8.0 Oreo Walkthrough
In this popular series, we take screenshots of the last two versions of Android and compare them for potential users or those waiting for the upgrade. Click through the slideshow below to learn and see all about Google’s upcoming update. While you’re here, drop us a comment about what you think Google will name Android P. I’m guessing Peanut Butter, Popsicle, or Pancake.
Android P screenshots are on the left, or alone, while Android 8.0 Oreo is on the right. Click any image below to jump to that slide.
Redesigned Quick Settings Menu
There are a lot of changes to Android P, but the one you’ll probably notice first is the redesigned Quick Settings menu in the notification pulldown bar. Basically, when you swipe down from the top to quickly access WiFi, Bluetooth, or to head to the settings menu.
As you can see above, Google completely overhauled this entire area. The clock is on the left instead of the right, and everything is rounded. It looks a bit like Samsung’s interface on Galaxy phones, to be honest.
The left is Android P while the right is Android 8.1 Oreo. Google rounded all of the icons, rounded notifications, and added some color to each quick setting. You’ll notice later that these completely change to a different color based on your background wallpaper image. It’s like built-in automatic themes.
Gesture Navigation Controls
Starting with Android 9.0 P, Google will introduce brand new gesture navigation controls. As our phone screens get bigger, bezels shrink, and the fronts become all screen, buttons are disappearing. Well, except for one pill-shaped button.
Basically, Google added a way to ditch the on-screen buttons and use gestures to control your Android phone. Similar to the swipes and finger drag controls seen on the iPhone X and OnePlus 5.
Swipe up from the pill button about halfway up the screen to enter your recent apps list. This is how you can easily multitask and switch between running apps or Google Chrome tabs. Drag left or right to pan through them. Swipe up faster (or further up) and you’ll open the application tray just like you do on Android 8.0 Oreo.
You can swipe to the right from the pill to flip back to a recently used app, and do a bunch of other things. It takes some getting used to, and our video has more information for those interested. This is an optional thing in Android P, and we doubt it’ll be the ONLY way to control phones. Not yet at least.
Smarter Notifications, Quick Reply
Another big change to the pulldown bar overall is regarding notifications. You’ll notice a lot of small changes when you pull down the bar and check incoming messages and such. Both on the lock screen, or in general, all notifications have rounded edges. On Android 8.0 it was squared off.
However, the notifications are getting an improvement, yet again, on top of Oreo. They’re smarter, more powerful, bundled together, and the “reply” feature inside the notification bar is better than ever.
Now, with Android P you can see images, stickers, and media in the notification bar before you open a message. The in-line reply is smarter and easier to use, too. The changes are all pretty subtle if you ask me.
The idea here is improved visibility and usability of notifications, and the entire notification and quick-settings pulldown bar on our devices.
Display Notch Support
In what’s perhaps one of the worst new features, but a necessary one is support for the “Notch”. Google knows that a lot of phones will copy Apple and the iPhone X, and add a notch to the screen. In fact, several already have. From the OnePlus 6, LG G7, ASUS phones and it looks like the Pixel 3 will too, sadly. Giving users a bigger screen but putting a notch in the display to house the speaker or front-facing camera.
Google added full support to customize and change the size of the notch in Android. This way manufacturers can work around that notch so the interface works as intended, and developers can prepare for it as well. This includes the ability to “hide” the notch with software ( a black bar) so the phone looks like it has a more traditional bezel. And in case you’re wondering why that notch is so huge, it’s because that’s the size we’ll get from the Pixel 3. Gross.
It’s an odd change, but one we expected.
Weather, Events & More on Lockscreen
Another small but helpful change to Android P is the addition of content on the lock screen. This works on the lock screen, ambient mode, and likely any phone with an always-on display.
With Android P, Google neatly displays the time, date, and now weather (with a nice little icon) and even upcoming reminders or events. This way you can see the weather or an event without unlocking your phone or turn on the screen.
We can’t completely customize the lock screen like the old days, but this is a nice addition people will enjoy and appreciate.
We all use our phones and tablets too much. These days the entire world is always looking down, gazing into a smartphone display. Apple knows it too.
As a result, both Google’s Android 9.0 P software and upcoming iOS software will have controls to “limit” how much we use our phones. Seriously, and this is a good thing.
Google calls this “Digital Wellbeing” and they’ve added a dashboard into Android P that gives you a detailed breakdown of what apps you use, how long, and much more. This will help people realize what apps are draining too much time, where they need to cut back, and even help you do exactly that.
You can set timers on apps, and they’ll turn off (and the icons go gray) when your time runs out, and a bunch more. This isn’t just a gimmick either. We don’t have all the details yet, but Google’s making a big effort to ensure we use our devices less, or for more meaningful things. Not just games, Facebook, and YouTube for 4 hours a day.
We’ll learn more about how this all works when Android P arrives later this year. It’s not in the 3rd preview.
New Vertical Volume Bar
Once again, Google completely changed the volume controls on Android. Instead of having a small box on the top of the screen that you can expand to change the volume for system, notifications, or media, it’s on the side of the screen.
Now when you change the volume it automatically changes “media” volume, not the ringer or notification volume. You’ll also notice the entire volume toolbar is on the side. This is likely to stay out of the way of any notches.
However, this side volume toolbar is more useful, too. You can tap the sound icon to instantly turn media to zero. There’s a second box below the volume that you can tap and it goes through three modes. Ring, Vibrate, and Mute. It’s like the mute slider on the iPhone or OnePlus devices, but a software mute control.
This is a welcomed change to volume controls. We really like that it changes media first, not ringtone volume levels.
Volume Controls Media Output
We’re noticing a few neat things in Android P. For one, when you change the volume and see the new side volume toolbar there’s an area for “Media”.
Tap this, and you’ll see a list of any recent devices you’ve connected to for media or audio, like Bluetooth speakers. You can tap to instantly connect to a BT device too, without fumbling into the Bluetooth settings menu. It’s quickly accessible right from the volume controls.
Furthermore, you’ll see the last few devices you’ve connected to. And, in developer options, there’s an option to connect to 5 Bluetooth devices at a time. In Android Oreo, the limit was two. That’s a nice change some will enjoy.
Power Menu Screenshot Shortcut
Another change that’s similar to the volume controls is when you press and hold down the power button. In Android P you’ll see options to power off or reboot your device like usual, but there’s a new “Screenshot” feature in the power menu.
Basically, you can press power to take a screenshot, instead of using the odd button combination most Android devices employ today. And when you take a screenshot, there’s a brand new “Markup” editor tool.
On past versions of Android when you take a screenshot you can share it, or delete it from the notification bar. Now, you can edit them on the fly and make changes before you save or share them. Similar to what we’ve seen on Samsung and other devices.
Clock on the Left
In case you didn’t notice, the clock is no longer on the top right side of the screen. For the first time in a long time, Google split the status bar information up and put the clock on the left side. This is likely to make the status bar cleaner, so it instantly and automatically works with any phones that have an iPhone X-style notch.
It’s small, but the more you know the better.
You’ll also notice my Quick Settings are dark, not light. These change automatically along with your wallpaper image. It’s the automatic themes from Oreo, but for Android P.
Battery Status Info
Most versions of Android show some sort of information about the battery. When you head to settings > battery > you’ll see a list of running apps, remaining battery life, and a few other things.
In Android P, Google added a dedicated area with a green check-mark, stating that your battery is in good shape. This is likely a response to Apple’s battery woes and device throttling. Basically, if your battery starts to show signs of wear and tear after a few years, Android will let you know.
It’s a small but potentially helpful feature that could explain problems with your device later down the road.
Redesigned (Colorful) Settings Menu
As expected, Google changed the settings menu yet again on Android P.
The settings menu, layout, and options are all relatively the same as we got with Android 8.0 Oreo. However, they’re colorful and easier to see or access. The buttons for specific setting options are rounded on the edges too, instead of square boxes to select stuff.
Some things like WiFi preferences were slightly rearranged, but for the most part, everything is the same. Only with some added colors. This is a nice change from stock Android Oreo, which looks somewhat boring. However, some think this looks too much like Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.
Simplified Location Settings
I’m not a fan of this next change, and you won’t be either. Google changed the location settings on Android P. The idea here is your location settings are very easy to understand, and simplified.
You can turn location settings on, or off, and that’s all. Those are your only two options. On Android 8.0 Oreo (and everything before) you had multiple choices, including a battery saver mode where location options were turned on, but in a state that used as little battery as possible.
Now, it’s all or nothing with Android P location data.
Easier Do-Not-Disturb Mode
Another setting that Google “simplified” is the Do-Not-Disturb options. We’re huge fans of this feature, and now it’s just cleaner and easier to understand.
Rather than fumble through three different modes, and levels of do-not-disturb, there’s only two now. Before Android P you could control everything. Like complete silence, allow alarms only, etc. Now, there’s just a DND option and a “behaviors” selection where you can somewhat customize how it stops notifications from coming through.
We’ll monitor this and location settings as the release nears.
Rotation Tool (and Lock)
Landscape or Portrait mode, known as Rotation or orientation controls, are a little different on Android P too.
Most users have the orientation locked in portrait mode, and only things like games or Netflix and YouTube can turn the screen sideways, in landscape mode. This is by design.
However, sometimes you want to quickly allow an app into landscape mode but don’t want to fumble through the settings menu. Now, when you turn the phone sideways if it notices content trying to turn, you’ll see a little “rotation” icon on the bottom left side of the screen. Click that to instantly allow rotation or orientation changes, on the fly. You’ll need to tap it again to revert back to normal portrait mode.
Manage “Recently Sent” Notifications
Another neat change we noticed this weekend comes to the notification system. It’s hard to find, but if you go to settings and head to Notifications, you can see the last three apps that sent you a notification.
Why is this helpful? Well, if you get notifications from an app and you don’t want to, head here and you’ll instantly see what app sent it, and you can disable notifications instantly.
In Android 8.0 Oreo Google gave us better control over notifications, and this improves on that. By letting you find and stop them easier, whenever necessary.
If you constantly dismiss notifications from a certain app or program and don’t interact with that notification, Android P will take notice.
After you dismiss the same notification a few times, Android P will put a red “stop” button on it and ask you if you’d like to stop getting them, because you always dismiss it anyway. This was a nice little feature found by AndroidPolice, and I’m sure there are plenty more just like it.
Basically, Android P will learn from your usage about certain notifications and stop showing you the ones that aren’t important. That’s pretty neat.
Picture-in-Picture Shortcut Options
One of the highlight features in Android 8.0 was picture-in-picture support. Letting users watch YouTube or Netflix while they’re reading an email or browsing the web. It’s like multi-tasking, but picture-in-picture mode like TV’s.
However, on Android P you’ll now see a small little settings icon inside the PIP menu. Giving you instant access to settings, or to change and customize how picture-in-picture mode works on your phone. These small changes that instantly give us access to what we want are pretty helpful.
Android 9.0 Confirmed
In case you were wondering, yes, this is Android 9.0 P.
With the 3rd Android P Developer Preview (beta) Google updated some of the information in settings to officially display “Android version 9” in multiple places. It was all but confirmed that this is Android 9.0 but now we know for sure.
So, come August we’ll get an update to Android 9.0 P and we’ll finally learn what the P stands for.
Android P Fingerprint Scanner Changes
In Android P Google made several changes to the fingerprint scanner, Pixel Imprint, and fingerprint sensor gesture controls, to name a few.
For one, you’ll see a colorful new icon and animation while you’re adding a fingerprint to any phone with Android P. This is just cosmetic, but it helps you understand how far along you are in the print-saving process.
You can also tap the fingerprint sensor to keep the phone awake. When your phone is in your hand (not a pocket) and the screen dims while you’re reading or doing something, just tap the fingerprint sensor and it’ll turn back on. This resets the “sleep timer” that’s usually set for 30 seconds or 1-minute on most phones. It’s just a nice quick way to keep the screen on without touching the display.
Over 150 New Emoji in Android P
With the second developer preview, Google added around 157 new Emoji to Android. These are almost all part of the Emoji 11.0 standard, so they’re up to date with the latest trends and social standards.
Android P will be one of the best for those that love emoji. They’ve added tons of exciting new additions, gender-exclusives, llamas and more.
New Android P Easter Egg
Relax! Don’t Do It.
In Android P you’ll find a brand new easter egg. Go to settings > system > advanced > about phone > and tap on About or Android P several times until this window pops up. This works on every version of Android, and you’ll always see an easter egg for that version of Android.
Right now it’s an extremely bright P, with circles of color like Google’s trying to hypnotize users. Once Android 9.0 P is officially released later this year this will change to the actual name and logo. Peanut Butter, Pancake, Pumpkin Pie. We’re not sure. Google names Android after tasty desserts in alphabetical order.
This was just a small sample of the many changes in Android P so far. Considering we’re still on the 3rd preview, more stuff is on the way. We’re expecting the fourth developer preview in July, final API’s for developers, then a global Android 9.0 P release date in August.
When more features or controls arrive with the 4th preview we’ll update this post. Then, expect a full revamp with more details when Android P is official and available for everyone.