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When is Google going to release Android P?

If there's one thing you can always count on from Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, it's a healthy dose of what's next for Android. Google takes a large amount of its conference to help developers prepare their apps for the new features coming to Android, and show off where it can for visibly new things. We know to expect lots of information about Google's next steps in software instead of hardware these days, because the software part is released in phases over several months as Developer Previews.

Considering Google is hyping its I/O conference a little earlier this year, and a few other bits of information we've scrounged up, it seems likely the initial Developer Preview for Android P will be here sooner than you think.

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Android P DP1

Unlike previous years where Google announced the next version of Android at I/O, last year the Developer Preview came long before the conference. By the time Google took to the stage in the middle of May 2017, developers had been playing with Android O DP1 for nearly two whole months. The final version of Android Oreo looked very different by the time it finally launched on the Pixel 2 in October, but the playground had been open for quite a while in the mean time.

With Google I/O starting on May 8 this year, it's likely we'll get the first Developer Preview for Android P a little earlier as well. Last year we saw Android O DP1 initial release a couple of weeks into March, which isn't that far away at all. If Google's schedule has been accelerated due to the earlier launch of the conference, we could be a few short weeks away from the first taste of the next version of Android.

Android P is already here for some

Like every company, Google internally tests lots of things before sending it out into the world. Part of that testing includes visiting websites like this one from those super secret versions of Android. Each year we see a slow buildup of traffic from that unreleased version of Android leading up to the initial announcement. It starts with a couple of pings over a week, and build up to several pings per day. By the time a Developer Preview is released, there's a nice graph in our analytics of mystery Android users in a steady upward trend.

This information doesn't guarantee much, after all anyone can tell their browser to report itself as anything if they know how, but it's a steady ramp up every year that gives us a fairly good idea of when Google is going to be doing its thing. We know Googlers are playing with early versions of Android P, and we know they've been using it more and more over the last two weeks. Based on the traffic we are already seeing for Android P, it's possible Google will announce the Android P Developer Preview earlier than last year. In fact, it's possible we'll hear more about Android P from Google before the end of February.

What does all of this mean?

Based on previous timelines from Google and some of the activity we're starting to see, it looks like Android P will be made available to developers earlier than last year. If it were to start at the beginning of March instead of closer to the end like last year, it would likely move the entire cycle ahead by a month. If Android P is ready to go a month earlier than usual, it could mean something more dramatic like the next Pixel phones coming up to a month earlier as well.

The whole timeline could have been moved up by a month.

Given what we're seeing with Samsung making the Galaxy S9 available earlier this year as well, it could also mean the next big phone from Samsung — such as the Galaxy Note 9 — launches with the next version of Android instead of waiting for an update like usual. Remember Google regularly provides its partners with access to new versions of Android much earlier than public developers, making it possible Google's ultimate goal for 2018 is to do away with the visual stigma associated with the latest version of Android having so few people using it by the end of the year.

A lot of this is speculation, based largely on prior experience with Google's behavior in the past. A new version of Android is always fun to play with, and when it comes to encouraging developer and hardware partner support earlier is always better. Until then, we can sit around and think some deep thoughts on what the P is going to stand for.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

37 Comments
  • Hopefully not before my phone gets Oreo at least. 😔😩
  • Is Oreo even out yet? Sheesh
  • As soon as an Android version is released, there's hype for the next one. It's something I haven't seen before when it comes to an OS. Some people never enjoy what they have in the moment they're always after the "next one". It seems like every summer Android Central asks what we'd like to see in the next OS when the current OS hasn't even been distributed to the masses yet. It's bizarre.
  • Surely it has to be called Android π,?
  • Only if DP1 is released on 3.14....and not out of the realm of possibility. Oreo 8.0 Alpha was released March 21.
  • π is not eatable.
  • I like pie
  • Can't wait for all the Pixel users sideloading DP1 and complaining about how buggy it is
  • Exactly. It's dumb to put this on a daily driver. If it's a backup device have fun but it isn't made for production
  • They should seriously consider "Polished ****" :)
  • And no doubt AC will say you can pick it up from the clean end.
  • Pistachio Baclava
  • I'd love to see the Pixels launched a month earlier in the year. Hell, I'd love to see them launched in summer.
  • Ha, I still want to know when Samsung will release Android O to their S8 devices.
  • +2
  • +1 And...s7 edge devices
  • Peep
  • and release b4 easter...
  • to heck with P yet lol, where is Oreo for my Samsung Note 8!
  • The rumor is mid-February for the S8, so I'm guessing Note 8 around the same time.
  • I couldn't care less.
  • Lol meanwhile most of the user base is stuck on nougat....
  • Like that's a bad thing? Nougat is just fine. Combined with OEM enhancements, it does more than I'd ever need.
  • I agree. Not been that bothered about updates since 6.
  • I use my phone heavily but not to the point I'm using all the features of the OS. I still can't tell a true difference from Lollipop up to Nougat.
  • 3 out of the 4 Android phones I still use are still on Marshmallow
  • Same crew here that didn't see the need to update from Windows XP. Security and battery life improvements matter to me.
  • A lot of people didn't upgrade to Windows Vista because it was crap. A lot of people didn't upgrade to Windows 8 because it was crap. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to stay on a version that is stable and reliable.
  • The why are you in blog about a new version if you truly don't care.... Just to tell us that you don't care? Maybe people don't care that you don't care.
  • I couldn't care less if you don't care that I don't care.
  • It will, as usual, come out shortly before the next Google Pixel generation of phones hit the market. It's presence is one of their major selling points.
  • That explains why Google phones sell so well.
  • Id just like to see my bluetooth connect to my car in version 8 before anything else comes along.or maybe calendar events show on lock screen. but yes roll on version 9 lets see what else they can remove this time....
  • Sometimes it's just the car. I have a Honda where every phone disconnects and reconnects at random - iPhone, LG, Samsung... the Note 8 so far has been the most reliable. It only disconnects very rarely and then reconnects immediately afterward. I think it has happened maybe once or twice since I got the phone.
  • Your car's software might need an update. Yes, unfortunately we're at a time when even our cars need a software update. Your dealership should be able to do it. Other than Tesla, I don't know of a company that lets you update from home.
  • My Ford Fusion Hybrid's Sync 3 connects to my home WiFi and updates automatically. I've only had it a few months and it's downloaded an update.
  • At the professional developer level or IT, I can appreciate the interest... It is your job. Given the maturity of Android OS in 2018, year over year changes are small. Improvements are always welcome, but is the annual update that comes with a new name necessary? Has some of the change that occurs merely software engineers justifying their employment? I appreciate that Android makes the apps I use run well. But most users only interaction with the Android OS daily is basic controls: WiFi (entering passwords), location, volume, and power controls. If your obsession is android sub menus, well, I suggest you are in the minority (with all due respect to the echo chamber here in the comment section of AC). The first operating system I knew well was the Apple //e DOS in my early elementary school years in the 1980s... If you are much younger.... Well... Take my word for it: You will always remain thankful for neverending progress, and small details you don't like usually will see improvement in the future.