Android P Beta Release: What You Need to Know

Android P Beta Release: What You Need to Know is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.

While most smartphone owners are still waiting for Android 8.0 Oreo updates Google just released the first version of Android P. Keep in mind that this is a very early developer preview (beta) and Android P won’t arrive until late 2018. It’s still exciting, so here’s what’s new, where to get it today and everything you need to know.

The Android P Developer Preview is only available for the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. However, we could see other devices added at a later date. There’s also no beta program yet, so there’s no easy way to install Google’s new software until later this year.

However, you’re probably still excited about Android P and everything that’s changing. A few things we’re noticing right away is multiple camera options, display cutout support (like the iPhone X notch), a new black and white color scheme, better notifications and more. This is still very early, so tons of changes are coming throughout the year before its official release.

The annual Google I/O developer event is in May, and Android P will likely take center stage. Over the past few years, Google’s used this event to showcase new versions of Android, and we can expect the same this year. Android P will be approaching the second preview by then, with more features, and an easy beta to install for those interested.

We expected Android P sometime in March, but it’s already official. Google surprised everyone and released Android P on March 7th. Albeit in a very early “alpha” preview form, only for developers, as a developer preview. You can install it using the factory images as we speak.

Before we get into everything it’s important to note that this isn’t something you should install. Well, unless you like living on the edge, are an Android developer, or you can handle stuff being broken. This is for techie nerds right now. This is the first of five developer previews of Android P.

Important Android P Links

If you’re a developer you’ll want to go to the Android P Developer page. Google also released an Android P program overview with tons of helpful information. Here are factory images to download and install Android P today. Then, don’t forget to submit feedback to help improve the software moving forward.

Android P Developer Preview Available

First things first, when can you get Android P? Well, right now apparently. As long as you have a Google Pixel, Pixel XL or a new Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. There’s no support for Nexus devices. However, Google didn’t open a beta program yet, meaning there’s no easy way to install this new software. Unless you’re ok with manually erasing your entire phone, then flashing the software yourself, you’ll have to wait for the next preview.

Download Android P (click here)

Google notes (more so than usual) that this is an extremely early first version preview, and not stable enough for daily use. In fact, they’re calling this Android P Alpha 1. There are bugs, issues, and battery life could be worse. Just keep in mind that things are likely broken in multiple places.

Those with eligible devices can download the factory images and flash the Android P Developer Preview starting March 7th.

What’s New in Android P

Considering this is a very early developer preview, and not anywhere near the final release,  a lot will change. Google’s not talking about exciting new features yet either, so this information is relatively boring. Similar to 2017 with Android O things are subject to change, evolve, or be removed completely by the time it’s actually released to the public. Google’s also only showing off a small percentage of what’s new, and saving all the fancy new features or important stuff for Google I/O, and later beta program software releases.

That being said, here are some of the changes we’re seeing already.

  • Display cutout support (The “notch”): Whether we like it or not, Android manufacturers are copying Apple’s iPhone X and the notch. The cutout on the screen is an eye-sore, but Google is making Android prepared for it. Android P makes it easier for developers to optimize apps and services to embrace the notch.

  • Multi-camera API:  Devices with two or more cameras will have more features with Android P. Developers an access both cameras simultaneously, and pull video or streams at the same time and blend it together. A lot of phones will have dual rear cameras moving forward, and this API will allow developers to do more with them. Expect this to change drastically throughout the beta period.
  • Improved notifications & Messages: Notifications are once again getting a small overhaul, especially for text message or message notifications. App developers can now properly show media like images, GIF, stickers, contact information, conversations, smart replies and more all in the notification bar. Basically, making message notifications smart and better.

  • Indoor positioning: With Android P Google added support for indoor positioning. Supporting the IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol (WiFi RTT). This improves indoor GPS, positioning, distance to an access point, and other things.
  • Open Mobile API for NFC payments: Apps now have access to secure elements in devices, which will enable smart cart payments and improved mobile payment solutions.
  • Data Cost and JobScheduler: A new platform to improve data usage by requesting large amounts of things to a carrier when the network isn’t congested, and other smart controls. Basically, a data scheduler to lower data usage.
  • ImageDecoder: Better decoding, scaling, post-processing, and support for animated images and more
  • Idle Apps Control: Google’s new system in Android P prevents idle apps from accessing the camera, microphone, and other sensitive aspects of a phone. Basically, for improved security apps in the background can’t access your microphone.
  • Google Assistant Integration: We’re expecting tons of improvements to the Google Assistant and expect further integration into multiple aspects of our devices.
  • Much More Coming Soon

This is just a small list of some of the highlight changes coming with Android P. They’re mainly aimed at developers, and we’ll learn about other exciting changes in May. Stay tuned for more details. This is all just hitting the wires.

Android P Release Date & Updates

So when will Android P actually get released? Well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. Last year Google unveiled O in March as a developer preview, and it wasn’t officially released until late August. We’re expecting something similar this year, and the photo below backs that up. According to the official announcement today there will be five Android P developer preview betas released.

Preview 2 will arrive in early May (at Google I/O) then we can expect the third release in June and more stability. The easy over-the-air update beta program will likely be available to everyone with preview 2 or 3. Furthermore, Google’s going to release a fourth Android P beta in July.

As for the official release around the globe and to the general public, that’s around Q3 according to Google. Expect an Android P release date in August, as we’ve seen the last two years.

Then, companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola, and OnePlus will start working on updates, which will probably arrive in late 2018 and early 2019. Most people are still waiting for Android 8.0 Oreo from 2017, here in March. Google’s getting too far ahead of other manufacturers.

Will My Device Get Android P?

Any device released within the past two years or so should technically be capable of getting the update to Android P when it’s finally released. Manufacturers must support a device for at least 18-months from the day it’s released to the public. So like the Galaxy S7 may or may not get it, and any device released in early 2016.

However, which devices will get it first is important. Google does what’s called a Developer Preview, or a beta where millions get early access. For now, the developer preview is only available on Google’s Pixel and Pixel 2 phones. There’s no support for the Nexus 5X or 6P, no Pixel C tablet, and no Nexus Player. Basically, no other devices will get Android P until August or later in 2018.

Additionally, most other device owners will need to wait for betas from those companies, like Samsung or HTC, or the global release date later this year.

Other Details

In closing, this is all we know thus far. Google literally just announce the Android P Developer Preview, and things will change a lot in the coming weeks and months. Some of the features will change or could go missing completely when it finally arrives. We saw this last year and expect it again.

However, it’s nice to know we can expect five updates to Android P, previews and beta periods that will help Google make it the best software possible. Keep in mind that any phone that runs Android 8.0 Oreo the day it’s released, like the Galaxy S9, supports Project Treble. A new initiative to make software updates faster. This means hopefully most new phones will see Android P in 2018, not sometime in 2019.

The new Google Pixel 3 will likely be the first phone to run the official update to Android P later this year. Stay tuned for more details.

Android P Beta Release: What You Need to Know is a post by Cory Gunther from Gotta Be Mobile.