While the jury is still out there about the possible dessert name Google would think about for its forthcoming Android P operating system, Google has quietly released their first developer’s preview of the new OS. The bets are on Android P being called Android Pumpkin Pie in keeping with the Google tradition of naming their premier smartphone OS after desserts. Whatever the name, Android P packs several new features not seen in the earlier versions of Android. The new version also some very good security features.
Here are six new features that look particularly interesting.
Locating a device’s position when it’s indoors
Android P supports WiFi protocol IEEE 802.11mc which is also known as WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). It allows an app to triangulate a device’s position to within one to two meters if the app can connect with three WiFi access points. The user’s location is invisible to the access points because the app doesn’t need to connect with them to calculate distance.
This feature will greatly enhance Google Drive as it so far was a bit mushy for tracking location indoors. Maps with routing features to help people find their way through confusing indoor locations with the new WiFi RTT. Google has also said that WiFi RTT can be used to for location-based voice control. For example, if Google knows you are indoors you can turn on/off the lights using IoT connection.
Enhanced user privacy
One of the great things about Android P is that it won’t allow any App will to have access to mics, cameras or sensors that use SensorManager when the app is not being used. So malware which usually runs in the background can no longer spy on you. Also if you are infected with malware, you will immediately come to know because if any app tries to use any of the sensors, an error is generated thereby warning you about the Apps running in the background.
Support for accommodating display cutouts
Smartphones that use a display cutout like the iPhone’s notch can wreak havoc with the way information is displayed on the screen. Android P allows app developers to manage how content is displayed when a cutout is present. Content can be displayed below or around the notch at the developer’s discretion.
Improvements to messaging notifications.
Notifications about incoming messages will be able to display the sender and receiver’s avatars and allow the receiver to add images to replies. Notifications will also be able to make use of smart replies.
Improvements to on-device neural network processing
Machine learning that is carried out on the device eliminates the necessity for sending user-generated data to the cloud for processing. This has two immediate benefits for the user. First, a neural network on the device can learn from and adapt to the user’s individual behavior more easily.
Here also privacy and security come into play. The Android P doesn’t use behavior-specific data. The master networks that learn based on data from all users can retrieve changes in the user’s network rather than the data that led to the changes in the user’s network.
Support for HDR
Android P supports HDR VP9 Profile 2. The user will be able to view HDR content if their device is HDR enabled.
If you are interested, you can visit the Android Developers Blog to find out some of the other things Android P has to offer. The Android Pumpkin Pie will be released at Google I/O which is scheduled for May 8 – 10.