GOOGLE HAS, as expected, rushed out its first Android P preview to developers.
Devs can download the Android P Developer Preview 1 release now, and it's officially be supported on Google's Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL handsets.
It's bad news for users of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, though, as Google has confirmed that, since two years have passed since the handsets were released, it's phasing out major updates for these devices. Perhaps less surprisingly, Google will also stop pushing updates to its now-ageing Pixel C tablet.
Still, unlike last year's Android Oreo release, Android P brings with it a tonne of new features, although not all will be welcome ones.
Chiefly, Android P brings with support for 'cutout' displays, no doubt to tackle the growing epidemic of iPhone X copycats such as the Asus Zenfone 5 series and upcoming LG G7 and OnePlus 6. Google says that, by adding support for notched displays in Android P, it'll make it easier for developers to manage how a screen cutout an app's content.
Android P also embraces the growing trend of dual camera setups. Google's new multi-camera API allows developers to access different streams on devices that have two or more physical cameras.
Improved messaging notifications are also on the Android P agenda, with Google giving users the option to view more information, including photos and stickers, from the notification bar (below). Smart replies, borrowed from Google Allo, are also coming to the notification menu, offering users automatically generated contextual responses.
As expected, Google is also settings its sights firmly on improving the performance and security of Android with its latest OS update.
Android P will bring with it improvements to Android Runtime (ART), for example, which will now use profile information to rewrite DEX files resulting in an 11 percent reduction across apps, according to Google, while improvements Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits will improve device battery life.
On the security side of things, Google will prevent idle apps from accessing the smartphones' camera and mic, in a bid to ensure that dodgy apps running in the background, such as the SonicSpy spyware uncovered last year, can't silently record audio and take pictures for blackmail.
Elsewhere in the first Android P dev preview, there's indoor positioning using WiFi RTT that will enable developers to build apps that make use of in-building navigation, support for HDR VP9 video and HEIF image compression, optimisations to Kotlin and improvements to Google's Neural Networks API.
In detailing its latest major OS release, Google advised devs that, as of November 2018, all apps will need to support Android Oreo. µ
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