Google has launched the latest version of its Android OS, Android 9 Pie, it was confirmed in a blog post by Sameer Samat, Vice President of Product Management for Android and Google Play.
At the heart of Pie is artificial intelligence (AI) which Samat says helps make smartphones "smarter, simpler, and more tailored to you."
The more you use Android 9 Pie, the more it learns from you, able to predict your next task, prioritizing battery power for the apps you use most, and helping you disconnect from your phone at the end of the day.
In addition to Adaptive Battery, which, as noted, determines which apps you use most and prioritizes battery for them, Adaptive Brightness learns how you like to set the brightness in different settings, and does it for you automatically.
Another predictive feature is App Actions, which predicts what you'll want to do next based on your context and displays the action on the phone. For example, on a Tuesday morning as you prepare for your commute into the office, you'll receive suggestions on using Google Maps to navigate the busy roads, or perhaps a Google Play Book audiobook you were listening to while pop up for you to resume where you left off during the train ride in. Once you pop your headphones on at the end of the day, it might suggest that you call your mom or spouse, or commence a favourite Spotify playlist.
Coming this Fall is Slices, which will display relevant information from favourite apps when the device anticipates you might want them. If you start typing "Lyft," Samat provides as an example, a "slice" will show up for the Lyft app, displaying pricing for your ride home, as well as the ETA of the nearest driver so you can catch a ride.
Android 9 also includes a new system navigation that features a single home button, which lets you swipe up from anywhere to see an Overview, which includes full-screen previews of your recently-used apps at-a-glance. You can then tap to jump back into one of them. Smart Text Selection recognizes the meaning of text you're selecting and suggests relevant actions. This function will work on the Overview of your recent apps.
Additionally, there's a redesigned Quick Settings, where you can take and edit screenshots, access simplified volume controls, manage notifications, and more.
To help users achieve a better work/life balance, or simply reduce the time they spend with their heads buried in phones, a new Dashboard provides a useful wake-up call about how much time you're spending on your device. Use the App Timer to set time limits on apps, so you don't spend all day Snapchatting or scrolling through Twitter or Instagram feeds. When time is up, the app will be grayed out on your screen as a reminder to leave it be. Do Not Disturb, meanwhile, will silence all visual interruptions so you won't be distracted by them during dinnertime or while on vacation. And Wind Down switches on Night Light and Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to grayscale before bedtime.
These Digital Wellbeing features will launch on Pixel phones this Fall, and on Android One and other devices later this year. But those who own a Pixel phone running Android 9 can access them in beta now by signing up with the same e-mail address you use for Google Play. You'll receive a welcome e-mail; accept the invitation to be a beta tester, and you're in! It may take up to 24 hours for the features to appear on the device.
Security, naturally, is of great importance with mobile devices, and Android 9 Pie includes some upgrades in that respect as well. Among these is continued hardening of the platform, an improved security model for biometrics, and a secure, dedicated chip for protecting sensitive data, like credit card information. TLS privacy is incuded by default, and DNS over TLS will help protect web communications.
An over-the-air update to Android 9 will begin rolling out to Pixel phones. Devices that participated in the Beta program from Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as all qualifying Android One devices, will receive this update by the end of this Fall. Samat says Google is working with other partners to launch or upgrade devices based on Android 9 Pie this year.