Android Pie is now official after being formally announced by Google today. In addition to confirming that P is now Pie, Google is now referencing Android 9.0as Android 9 Pie, marking a slight change from previous Android version releases that have typically arrived in the decimal form – such as Android 8.0 Oreo. Google has also confirmed that not only has the name arrived, but so has the final version of Android 9 Pie.
This will begin rolling out today to Google Pixel phone owners via an over-the-air update. Android One phones, as well as Android Beta program-enrolled devices — including those from Essential, HMD Global, OnePlus, OPPO, Sony Mobile, Vivo, and Xiaomi — are all expected to receive the update “by the end of this fall.” With Google also explaining it’s “working with a number of other partners” with a view to either launching new devices running Android 9 Pie or upgrading some existing ones before the end of this year. Though Google did not provide specifics on which partners or what devices.
While Android 9 Pie is officially launching today, this is an Android version that has very publicly gone through its beta stages and so there is not a lot left to be known or announced when it comes to features and benefits. Although as part of the main announcement today, Google did confirm that a new feature will be arriving to Pie at a later date, Slices. While Google did not provide too much information on this, the feature builds on the Pie theme by offering Android device owners a Pie Slice of Android app access when using Google Search. Google expects Slices to start rolling out to phones running on Pie later on in the year.
today’s announcement to reinforce the AI focus of Android 9 Pie, stating AI is “at the core of the operating system” and drawing on features such as Adaptive Battery, Adaptive Brightness, and App Actions as examples of how smartphones running Pie are not only more user-understanding but also grow in that understanding over time, i.e. as the user engages more with those features. In addition, Google also confirmed new ‘digital wellbeing’ features will also become available to devices running Pie later in the year, starting with the Pixel phones. Technically, the digital wellbeing features will be immediately available to Pixel phone owners after updating to Pie, although the current feature release is one Google considers to be in a beta stage.
The machine learning elements were advised during Google I/O to be performed on the user’s device rather than being processed on Google’s servers, in a bid to keep user data private.
Google has also moved to including gesture-based multitasking, as part of changes to how users navigate their devices. Users can switch between apps using gestures instead of buttons, while other elements have been simplified or made more intuitive.
For searches, Slices will bring up parts of apps within results. For example, a search for Lyft could bring up how far the nearest driver is from the user, as well as the prices and distances for commonly-visited locations.
In a similar move to Apples Digital Health initiatives in iOS 12, Android Pie also includes “Digital Wellbeing” features, which advises how long apps have been used for each day, to nudge users to use their devices in a more constructive way. Daily time limits can also be set for app usage, with app icons greying out once a limit has been reached as a reminder to users to reduce their usage.