Googleâ€™s upcoming Android operating system (OS), dubbed Android P, will feature the biggest overhaul yet, the company announced last week at its annual I/O developer conference. The most notable changes to Android P are focused on the use of AI, app security, user privacy, and performance. Android P is currently available in beta for Pixel devices and a select few device manufacturers.
Hereâ€™s an overview of the new updates and features packed in Android P:
- Additional features with AI.Â Googleâ€™s newÂ Adaptive Brightness feature leverages AI to determine a user's preferred brightness settings. Additionally, App Actions uses AI to make contextual suggestions based on usage. Google also improved notificationsâ€™ usefulness with the addition of smart replies, which use AI to provide recommended responses based on the userâ€™s conversation. Lastly, Google rolled out ML Kit to enable app developers to integrate machine learning features into their apps, which will lead to an influx of more intelligent app experiences.
- Heightened performance and stability.Â Google unveiled an improved Battery Saver app that users can enable when the battery level falls to 70% or below, as opposed to 5% or 15%.Â The new Adaptive Battery feature uses AI to learn how mobile owners use their apps, and then restricts battery usage for apps not used frequently.Â Lastly, the new enhanced Android Runtime allows apps to rewrite their own execution files, resulting in faster launching apps that use less memory.
- Improved user privacy and security.Â Encrypted backups on Android P will require a passcodeÂ at the lock screen immediately after restoring an encrypted backup from the cloud so no one, including Google, can access the data. Android P will also have a decreased likelihood of sensor spying, so whenever an app uses a device sensor, like a microphone or camera, for instance, Android P will notify the user. Additionally, any idle app will become restricted from accessing the smartphone microphone, camera, and other sensors.
However, the severe fragmentation of the Android platform will inhibit mass adoption of Android P.Â Thatâ€™s because as of May 7 justÂ 5.7%Â of all Android devices were running the latest Android OS, Android 8 Oreo, released in August 2017, and this OS will be required to download Android P when it becomes available. Moreover, only 31% of active Android devices are running Android 7 Nougat, released in August 2016, while the remaining share of Android devices run older OSs.Â
The lack of a cohesive platform poses major challenges to the Android ecosystem, as it prevents timely access to new technology and introduces security concerns, and highlights the benefits of Appleâ€™s closed ecosystem. Over 75% of active iPhones are running the latest OS, iOS 11.