Google unveiled a lot of new Android platform features during this year’s I/O developer conference, but not every feature was ready for release. The Slices API is one such feature that was talked about as a new Android Pie platform feature but wasn’t immediately made available for developers. Today, however, Google held their annual Android Dev Summit where they announced the updated version of Kotlin, a new Android Studio beta, official support for Android Studio on Chrome OS, support for a new class of foldable devices, and finally that the Slices API will get an early access program sometime this month.
To recap, the Slices API is a way for third-party apps to surface content into widely used first-party apps like the Google App. Slices can have live data, inline actions, scrolling content, and deep-linking to your app so the user can immediately interact with your service when searching for relevant content in the Google App. For example, say the user is looking to book a hotel and opens up Google search, but it turns out the user already has a reservation with Kayak. Kayak can surface a Slice of its UI to show the user their reservation as a reminder. The API even lets you style the slice that you offer—though only to a certain extent to maintain basic design uniformity. Lastly, Slices are compatible with 95% of Android devices on the market thanks to the compatibility package.
This new API in Android Pie sounds like a neat way for Google to integrate third-party apps with first-party services like the Google App, but unfortunately, developers can’t surface their content in the Google App just yet. That’s changing soon, though, as the upcoming early access program (via 9to5Google) will let third-party services surface their content sometime later this month. Google says that slices will show up in Google search results from Kayak and “many other applications” this month, though they didn’t give an exact date for when the early access program will go live.