Google’s latest version of Android 9.0 or ‘Pie’ is currently available on the latest Google Pixel smartphones or the Essential Phone via an over-the-air update. As usual, those on other Android devices will have to wait for their smartphone manufacturer to deliver the update. From minor changes such as moving the time to the top left of the status bar to larger improvements in battery life, Android Pie brings a variety of improvements.
Key new features
The home button now takes a pill-shape and moves in the same space as the traditional on-screen buttons. Tap it to go home, flick it up to see recently used apps, swipe upwards twice or pull it up further to get to the app drawer, or hold down to activate Google Assistant. You can also drag it to the right to switch to the last app (similar to the double tap of the overview button) or drag and hold to cycle through recently used apps. The back button still appears when needed, but the overview button has gone. The gestures are not activated by default for now, which means to try them out head to Settings > System > Gestures and toggle the “Swipe up on Home button” option.
Adaptive Battery and Brightness
Adaptive Battery learns your usage patterns and directs the power to only the apps you need at the time you need them for more predictable day-to-day battery life. Using the new battery feature, user’s on the beta programme found an increase in battery life in the region of 20%.
Smart replies will now be incorporated in more apps than Gmail and Smart Reply, allowing you to easily send one-button replies.
App actions works to predict not only the app that you want at any particular moment, but an action from within that app too. For example, if you regularly check the weather in the morning, weather will appear when you wake as a suggestion for one-tap access.
Apps you have given permission to access your location, microphone, camera and network status will no longer be able to access them when idle in the background. This means it will be harder for rogue apps to spy without your knowledge and consequently better protect your privacy.