Following 2017's Oreo release, Google followed it up in 2018 with the release of Android 9 Pie.
This flavor of Android is jam-packed with all sorts of new features, including a brand-new gesture navigation system, upgraded UI elements, and a heap of under-the-hood tweaks that aim to make this a seriously great version of Android.
Without further ado, here's everything you need to know about Pie!
Android P is officially Android 9 Pie
No Popsicles or Pineapples here. On August 6, 2018, Google revealed that its next version of Android is Android 9 Pie.
Along with the name change, the number is also slightly different. Rather than following the trend of 7.0, 8.0, etc., Pie is referred to as 9. This probably doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it's still an interesting move on Google's part.
Check out our full review!
Every new Android version builds upon the previous one, meaning that each new update is better than the last.
However, in day-to-day use, how does really Pie hold up? What's it like using the new gestures instead of the traditional navigation buttons? How do the subtle UI tweaks compare to Oreo? What's performance like?
All those questions and much, much more are answered in our full review, so be sure to give it a read and watch!
Android Q is now in beta!
Like it or not, Pie is already outdated. For 2019, Google's focus is Android Q.
Android Q is currently in beta, and while things will likely change between now and the final release later in the year, a lot of exciting features have already been confirmed. Based on what we've seen so far, Android Q will bring chat bubbles for notifications, a new theming engine, more control over app permissions, and plenty more we don't have time to talk about here.
You can download and use the Android Q beta on a Pixel phone if you'd like, but if you do, just be aware that it's still riddled with a few bugs that may not be great for use as a daily driver.
- Android Q: Everything you need to know!
- How to install Android Q Beta on your Pixel right now (or downgrade to Pie)
See what Google has to say about Pie in our interview with Android's UX Manager
Android Pie is a big deal for Google. Between the gestures, digital wellbeing initiative, and more, there's a lot going on all at once.
AC's own Andrew Martonik had the chance to talk with Android's UX Manager, EK Chung, about all things Pie to get a better understanding of why this is such a big release for the company.
This is a longer read, but it's absolutely worth a look if you want a deeper understanding of what all went into crafting Pie into the final build that we have today.
Samsung built a special version of Pie called "One UI"
If you have a Samsung phone running Android Pie, you may notice that it looks a lot different than Pie on other phones. That's because Samsung created a special interface based on Pie that it calls "One UI." One UI has all of the same Pie features you'd expect while also adding some additional tweaks on top of it.
Various buttons/toggles have been moved closer to the bottom of the screen so that they're easier to reach, Samsung created a built-in dark mode for the system and its own apps, and the overall aesthetic has its own unique style.
There's a lot to dig into with One UI, so be sure to check out our coverage below for more information.
- Samsung One UI and Android 9 Pie update: Everything you need to know
- Samsung One UI (Android 9 Pie) review: Samsung's best software yet
It completely changes Android's navigation system
Back in 2011 with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google introduced Android's iconic three-button navigation system we've come to know and love – Back, Home, and Recents. All these years later with Android Pie, they're being eliminated in favor of a gesture-based system.
Android Pie is the first time Google's heavily relying on gestures for navigating the UI, and in their current form, they work as follows:
- Tap the Home button/pill to go home
- Swipe up to access the recent apps page
- Swipe up twice or do a long swipe for the app drawer
- The Back button only appears in certain apps/menus when it's needed
This combination of taps and swipes can be confusing at first, but with enough practice and patience, are fairly easy to master in a short amount of time. Phones that are updated to Pie from an older Android version still use the three-button nav by default, but if you want to turn them on, doing so is fairly simple.
Some phones like Google's Pixel 3 can only use the gesture navigation, but on the Galaxy S10 or OnePlus 6T, you actually have your choice of using the traditional buttons or a gesture-based system.
The user interface is more rounded and colorful
Android Pie isn't as drastic of a visual change like we saw with the jump from KitKat to Lolipop, but compared to Oreo, there are some elements that are noticeably different.
At first glance, things like the colorful icons in Settings, circular Quick Settings icons, and rounded corners for just about every menu jump out like a sore thumb. These elements do take some getting used to, but I ultimately came around to liking them quite a bit.
Something else you'll notice with Pie is just how alive it feels. Between the new gestures and updated animations, Android moves in a way that I've never seen before. Oreo was smooth and buttery, but Pie flies underneath your fingertips in a way that can only be experienced in-person.
There are tools for helping you use your phone less
In an effort to help you use your phone less and spend more time engaged with the world around you, Android Pie comes equipped with a set of tools called "Digital Wellbeing."
Digital Wellbeing is baked into Pie's settings and offers a quick glimpse into how you're using your phone, including stats on which apps you're using the most, how many times you've turned on the screen, how many notifications you've received, and how much time you've spent on each app.
You'll also find a feature called App Timers that'll restrict you from using a certain app after you've spent x amount of time on it, as well as tools for easily turning on Do Not Disturb and switching your screen to a monochrome color palette to help you wind down for bed.
Google's trying to squeeze as much juice as possible out of your battery
It seems like Google's always trying to find ways to maximize your phone's battery life as much as possible, and with Android Pie, those efforts are present in a new Adaptive Battery mode.
Similar to how Adaptive Brightness automatically adjusts your display's brightness level based on your environment and usage, Adaptive Battery will examine how you use your phone and limit CPU usage to apps you infrequently use.
Google notes that Adaptive Battery can lower CPU usage by as much as 30%, and thanks to the use of Machine Learning, it'll only get better the more you use your phone.
App shortcuts are everywhere
With Android Nougat, Google introduced us to App Shortcuts for the first time. Holding down on an app icon to quickly access certain elements of it can be genuinely useful at times, and with Android Pie, Google took these to the next level with App Actions and Slices.
App Actions try to determine what you'll do next with your phone and give you recommend shortcuts for doing so within the app drawer, Assistant, and more. For example, if you watch Good Mythical Morning each day with breakfast, you might see an App Shortcut in your app drawer for searching Rhett and Link on YouTube during the morning.
On the other hand, Slices allow you to perform more complex actions from the Assistant or Google Search. In the example Google gave at I/O 2018, searching "I want to book a ride" will give you a special link to call a ride home via Lyft (assuming you've got the app installed).
157 new emoji
In Android 9, Google's added a ton of new emojis to keep your conversations bright and colorful — 157 of them, to be exact.
Although we won't run through the entire list, some of the highlights include red hair, superhero, face with three hearts, bagel with cream cheese, mooncake, lobster, and llama.
There are also improvements to existing emoji, including two new gender-neutral family and couple designs and updated looks for the bacon, salad, turtle, and cricket emojis.
All the little things
In addition to the big changes found in Android Pie, there are a ton of smaller elements also scattered throughout the update. Some of my favorites include:
- Built-in screenshot editor
- Zoom pop-up when highlighting text
- Changing the volume now defaults to your media volume
- Volume controls appear on the right of your screen instead of the top
- Do Not Disturb is more customizable and easier to understand
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