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May102018

Android P Beta Packed with Machine Learning At Core

Ten years after the first Android phone, the ‘T-Mobile G1′ Google at the I/O today launched the Android P beta on Google Pixel and on OEM partners devices through Project Treble.

“Project Treble, introduced last year is an effort that makes it simpler to upgrade Android mobile OS for partners.”

Android P, is a step ahead mobile operating system that bring machine learning (ML) and that learns from you, adapts to you and helps you with everyday tasks. This beta introduces hundreds of improvements to security and privacy such as DNS over TLS, encrypted backups, Protected Confirmations and more.

With machine learning at the core, Android P helps smartphones to learn from and adapt to you. It’s already equipped with Adaptive Battery from DeepMind, that prioritizes battery power for apps and services most used. And, the Adaptive Brightness learns from how the brightness slider is set based on surroundings.

GIF animates new Adaptive Battery feature in the image below:

Adaptive Battery in Android P Beta

New System Navigation
In P, gestures are extended to enable navigation right from the homescreen—using home button swipe up to re designed ‘Overview,’ for at a glance full-screen previews of all recently used apps. A simple tap will take you back into the app.

Animation below shows new navigaiton system:

Android P Beta New NAvigation System

  • App Actions, for instance is able to predict what ypu want to do next and shows up throughout, like in Launcher, Smart Text Selection, Play Store, Google Search app and the Assistant. As an example, when you connect headphones to your device, Android will surface an action to resume favorite Spotify playlist.

    Here is a GIF showing new App Actions:

    App Actions in Android P Beta

  • Slices gives even more deeper look into favorite apps—-Say, searching for “Lyft” in Google Search, will show an interactive Slice with price and time for a trip to work as well as lets you quickly order the ride.

    GIF demonstating new Slices feature:

    Slices in Android P Beta

  • ML Kit, a new set of cross-platform APIs available through Firebase give developers on-device APIs for text recognition, face detection, image labeling and more.
  • Smart Text Selection now works in Overview, make it easier to perform the action you want, like switching between apps. It is a feature that recognizes the meaning of the text you’re selecting and suggests relevant actions.
  • Newly designed ‘Quick Settings,’ offer easier way to take and edit screenshots, manage notifications, simplified volume controls and more.
  • A new Dashboard shows time spent on the device, including time spent in apps, no of times a phone was unlocked, number of notifications received.
  • App Timer lets you set time limits on apps, and will nudge you when you’re close to your limit and then gray out the icon to remind you of your goal.
  • New ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode silences not just the phone calls and notifications, but also all visual interruptions that pop up on screen. A new gesture will automatically invoke Do Not Disturb when a phone is turned over on the table.
  • Wind Down will switch on Night Light when it gets dark, and it will turn on Do Not Disturb and fade the screen to grayscale at the chosen bedtime to help you remember to get to sleep at the time you want.

    Animation below show new Dashboard, App Timer and Wind Down:

    Android P Beta Dashboard, App Time, Wind Down

Android Things at 1.0 offering new opportunities to develop, like from major consumer devices, to cool remote control vehicles! Here are some major announcements made on Day 1 at Google I/O:

Android Jetpack accelerates app development as it bring together benefits of Support Library ( backwards compatibility and immediate updates) to a larger set of components and manages activities, like background tasks, navigation, and lifecycle management. Even it works well with ‘Kotlin’ and saves you even more code with Android KTX.

illustration of Android Jetpack:

Android Jetpack Illustration

New components of Android Jetpack released today, include WorkManager, Paging, Navigation, and Slices.

Kotlin — Android KTX launches as part of Android Jetpack to optimize Kotlin developer experience. Tooling continues to improve with Android Studio, Lint support, and R8 optimizations.

Tuned Android Runtime (ART) in Android P make apps built with Kotlin run faster. Kotlin code snippets are now available in official documentation, and a Kotlin version of API reference documentation is published, too. New Kotlin Bootcamp on Udacity for developers new to Kotlin and a Kotlin specialization in the Google Developers Experts Program is launched.

Android Studio 3.2 Canary features tools for Android Jetpack including a visual Navigation Editor and new code refactoring tools as well as build tools to create new Android App Bundle format. Also included in 3.2 is Snapshots in Android Emulator for fast start time, new R8 optimizer for smaller download and install app code size, new Energy Profiler, and more.

You can download the latest version of Android Studio 3.2 from the canary channel download page.

Android App Bundle, a new app modularization module dramatically reduce app size as you can deliver features on-demand, like languages, screen size, hardware architecture during development process in Android Studio. Then, Google Play’s new Dynamic Delivery will only deliver the code and resources matching user’s device while they downloads your app. Join the beta program to publish them on Google Play.

An image of new App Bundle:

Android App Bundle

Google Play Console getting new features and reports including improvements to dashboard, statistics, Android vitals, pre-launch report, acquisition report, and subscriptions dashboard.

Google Play Instant is now available on over 1 billion devices worldwide from Play Store, search, social and most places you can tap a link. Also, launching this week is a new Unity plugin and beta integration with Cocos creator to make instant apps easier to build. Google is also currently testing Play Instant compatibility with AdWords, so people can try games directly from ads, across all the channels reached by Universal App campaigns.

Using new “internal test track” you can push an app to up to 100 internal testers in seconds before releasing it to alpha, beta, or production. Also, multiple closed test tracks are available for different versions of app, before pushing them to open betas or production.

Pre-launch report summarizes issues found in alpha or beta versions of your app, based on automated testing on popular devices in Firebase Test Lab.

“Several new features helping to test parts of an app or game that crawlers find harder to reach: create demo loops for games written with OpenGL, record scripts in Android Studio for test crawler to follow, identify deep links, and provide credentials to go behind logins. In addition to reporting crashes, performance and security issues, and taking screenshots of the crawled screens, the report will soon identify accessibility issues you should fix to ensure a positive user experience for the widest audience.”

Android vitals now analyzes data about startup time and permission denials in addition to battery, rendering, and stability. The revamped dashboard highlights crash rate, ANR rate, excessive wakeups, and stuck wake locks: the core vitals developers should give attention to.

Google Play Consoles app dashboard now shows more data, is easier to read, and is customizable. Configure statistics report to see how instant apps are performing, how many people are launching instant app by different dimensions and how many go on to install the full app on their device.

Acquisition report shows more data including:

  • about how people find your app and whether they go on to install it and make purchases,
  • see average revenue per user and retention benchmarks, Organic breakdown separates number of people who find your store listing by searching Play Store from those who get there via browsing.
  • see what search terms are driving the most traffic, conversions, and purchases.

Order management updated too, to enable you to offer partial refunds for in-app products and subscriptions.

Google Play Billing Library 1.1 let you integrate new features with minimal coding, like upgrade subscriptions without changing renewal date, make price changes to existing SKUs.

New subscriptions center on Google Play lets people manage their active subscriptions, including fixing payment issues or restoring canceled subscriptions. You can create deep links for direct access to subscription management options on Play Store. Soon, people when cancel subscriptions will be able to leave feedback.

Subscription reports in Play Console now helps better understand retention and churn across multiple subscriptions, times, and territories. You can now measure whether features such as free trials, account holds, and grace periods are successful in acquiring and retaining users.

Google launche an early preview of the new Android extension libraries AndroidX, which represents a new era for the Support Library.

Wear OS by Google developer preview 2 with added support for Actions on Google (AoG) and more power-related enhancements, including a new battery saver mode was released today.

Other updated included with this release are “Android Emulator images and a downloadable system image for Huawei Watch 2 Bluetooth or Huawei Watch 2 Classic Bluetooth.”

Actions on Google
Revamped Google Assistant on Wear OS now support features such as visual cards, follow-on suggestion chips, and text-to-speech. Developers can use Actions on Google to Wear OS and existing Actions will work on Wear OS out of the box.

Enhanced battery saver mode shows a power-efficient watch face and turns off a set of services, including radios, touch screen, and tilt to wake. Get the time by pressing side button, and a long press switches back to fully-operational mode and perform tasks, such as paying with NFC or replying to a message.

Smart Reply for bridged notifications is enabled from user’s smartphone for some time. This build also introducing simplified Chinese support powered by an on-device model using TensorFlow Lite and the model is optimized for low-memory, low-power devices.

Google also rolled back Wi-Fi off when Bluetooth (BT) is disconnected.

Limited background activity and foreground service: Google is recommeding to use foreground services to anchor alarms and jobs. And, for other use-cases, developer should look at both foreground service as well as limiting jobs and alarms to while the watch is on charger.

This beta release introduces new gesture navigation, redesigned Overview with cards, updated Markup screenshot editor, tweaks o volume slider and more.

Factory images of the new Android P Beta build PPP2.180412.013 can be flashed now if you don’t want to wait for the Beta OTA.

To enroll in the new Android P Beta Program, just follow the steps written under:

  1. Using a web browser go to android.com/beta
  2. Now, sign in with your Google account that is used on your Android device(s)
  3. Once signed-in, you should now see a list all eligible devices
  4. If your device is listed, opt in and accept the Android Beta Program by selecting the Enroll Device button
  5. Once enrolled, your device will receive an notification of successful enrollment
  6. And, your device will now get regular over-the-air (OTA) updates to the latest Android P builds through (and including) the final release.

Android P Beta is currently available as on OTA updated on a Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, or Pixel XL device. And, also on selected partner devices, or check out this full list of supported devices.

Android P Beta can also be set up on an Android Emulator to run Android P Beta. To set up an emulator with Android P Beta, install the latest system image and create a new virtual device as follows:

  1. In Android Studio 3.2, click Tools > SDK Manager.
  2. In the SDK Platforms tab, select Show Package Details at the bottom of the window.
  3. Below Android P Preview, select a system image such as Google APIs Intel x86 Atom System Image.
  4. In the SDK Tools tab, select the latest version of Android Emulator (27.1.12 or higher).
  5. Click OK to begin install.
  6. After install is finished, select Tools > AVD Manager and follow the instructions to create a new AVD.

    Be sure to select a device definition that does not include Play Store, and select P for the system image.

  7. When you return to the AVD Manager’s list of virtual devices, double-click your new virtual device to launch it.

If you are a developer, you can test your app with screen cutouts that make space for the ear speaker and/or camera, as shown in figure 1. You can simulate a screen cutout as follows:

  1. Enable developer options.
  2. In the Developer options screen, scroll down to the Drawing section and select Simulate a display with a cutout.
  3. Select the size and shape of the cutout.

What’s if you want to opt-out of Android P Beta to Android Oreo, on your device just go through the following steps:

  1. Visit to the Android Beta Portal page and sign-in with the same Google account that was used to opt-in into Beta, now your should see an ‘Opt-out’ option that has replaced the ‘Opt-in.’
  2. Just click on the Opt-out and you should receive another OTA — this time Andorid Oreo, download and roll back to the latest stable version of Android Oreo.

And, if you are read you can immediately flash a factory image by downloading using the links below:

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