Google announced the first Android Pie Developer Preview build back in March for the Pixels, and at I/O the company expanded the beta program to include devices from seven third-party manufacturers while rolling out Developer Preview 2.
DP2 was the first Android P public beta build (with DP1 considered the alpha build), and earlier this month Google rolled out DP3, the second beta build. DP3 is an important build as it includes final APIs and the SDK for developers to begin compatibility testing and make use of new features baked into Android Pie. Developers can also start pushing out apps targeted for Android Pie to devices enrolled in the beta.
While DP3 adds a lot of tools for devs to start building apps for Android Pie, there's plenty to like if you're just looking to try out Pie before it goes official later this year. The first beta build was notable for just how stable it was (considering it was a developer preview), and DP3 builds on that by ironing out lingering bugs from previous builds.
I've been using the Beta 2 build on a first-gen Pixel for most of this week, and I haven't encountered any show-stopping bugs. I wasn't able to pair Bluetooth accessories with Beta 1, but I had zero issues on that front with Beta 2. That said, there were a few instances where the volume skipped all the way to 100% as soon as I connected my MDR-1000X.
I haven't faced any problems with calls or texts either, but it looks like there's an ongoing issue with text messages on Verizon. Third-party app behavior has also been significantly improved, and aside from Alexa, I haven't noticed any app crashes. I've even noticed a slight increase in battery life from Oreo thanks to the AI-assisted battery management tweaks.
The gesture-based navigation system definitely takes some getting used to though, and the fact that you have to swipe up twice to access the app drawer is irksome. Android Pie still has a back button that kicks in when you're in an app, which feels counter-intuitive. I prefer the way OxygenOS and MIUI implement gestures, where you can just swipe up from either edge of the screen to go back in an app.
On the subject of change, I'm still not sold on the idea that the clock is now to the left of the status bar. With the Pixel 3 said to sport a notch, I can understand Google's reasoning for wanting to free up space for notifications on the status bar, but it feels unnecessary.
Overall, the latest beta build is stable enough to be used as a daily driver. Beta 2 is limited to the Pixels and the Sony Xperia XZ2 for now, but it should be making its way to the rest of the eligible devices shortly.
Looking ahead, Google is set to roll out DP4 — which will be a release candidate build — sometime later this month, followed by the final preview build sometime in July. We'll likely see the digital wellness features and App Actions introduced in the upcoming build, and the stable Android Pie build should make its way around August.
How to get Android Pie on your Pixel or Nexus right now
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.