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Essential talks Android Q, notch settings, and more in latest Reddit AMA

Essential's monthly Reddit AMA gives us a look at the company's future.

Published onSeptember 19, 2018

Essential Phone

Even with a bleak looking future, Essential is still working hard to make sure its customers are happy. In addition to it releasing the Android Pie update within hours of Google making the firmware official, Essential still holds monthly Reddit AMAs were they can answer questions from fans. This month, three Essential representatives (Rebecca, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Marcus, a software program manager, and Sean, a quality engineer) gave us an inside look at the company’s plans.

How did Essential roll out Android Pie so quickly?

As mentioned, while almost every Android user on Earth is still waiting for Android Pie (and Oreo), Essential made the firmware upgrade available right after Google rolled it out to Pixel devices. Because of this, a good number of fans wondered how the startup was able to pull this off.

First off Google does a staged rollout of all of their software and app updates. That should explain why you received your update before your friend.
Normally we will receive final code updates 2-3 weeks before we can push an OTA. We have an incredible engineering team who is able to implement those patches quickly and will normally have 2 weeks to test out the build. We’ll push it out to our internal employees and have them live on the build before we’re comfortable pushing it out to all of you.

Android Q confirmed for the Essential Phone

We aren’t even remotely close to Google discussing plans for the next version of Android, but Essential already has plans to bring it to the Essential Phone. 

Top 5 features of the Essential Phone

While the below quote is a bit vague, Marcus did confirm specifically that the PH-1 would be getting Android Q.

We’ll provide platform updates for 2 years (until August 2019) and security updates for 3 years (until August 2020).

Where is Essential’s headphone jack module?

Back in June, Essential announced its first module since launching its handset. Called the Audio Adapter HD, this module brings a headphone jack and a high-res DAC to the smartphone. Unfortunately, though, Essential never announced when the accessory would be made available —until today.

We can confirm that Audio Adapter HD is nearly ready for release. We’re in the final stages of certification with the FCC (we’ve been told this process takes approximately 6 weeks) and will share more information on release dates and pricing soon. The team has been working hard and we’re excited to deliver one of the best mobile audio experiences available.

What happened to Essential’s notch settings?

When Android Pie made its way to the Essential Phone, the company had to remove its notch settings menu due to Google including various notch-related components in the updated operating system. The good news is that it’ll be making its way back to the device with the October security patch and will once again give customers more control over how certain apps interact with the phone’s notch.

We sure are! It’s in for our October security patch release and we’ll be working to get it out to you as quickly as possible. P.S. So much fun for PUBG (and I guess Fortnite, if they ever let me in the beta lol)

Read next: Can you learn to love the notch?

Will the phone get Digital Wellbeing?

With Android Pie, Google has put a lot of focus on making sure people don’t spend too much of their day staring at a mobile screen. One way it’s providing more insights for users is through Digital Wellbeing. As the program is still in beta and currently only available for Pixel devices, Essential isn’t sure if they will ever gain access to it.

This is currently still only available to Pixel users in their beta. Unfortunately I’m unsure if this will be opened up to non Pixel phones.

How about Android Pie’s multi-camera API?

The AMA then shifted to the camera. One person was interested in finding out if Essential planned to leverage Android Pie’s new multi-camera API. With it, users would gain access to multiple camera streams at once. But, it doesn’t look like Essential plans to support the API.

Android Pie is fairly new and we feel that it will have at least one maintenance release. We want to see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, we do not have any immediate plans to leverage Multi-Camera API Support in Android Pie.

Can Essential add a panorama mode in the camera app?

Of course, if there are questions about the camera, then someone is guaranteed to ask about the addition of new camera modes.

TL;DR: There won’t be.

Our goal continues to be to improve the Essential Camera app through periodic app updates. Top crashes, performance improvements, security fixes and high impact bugs will be on top of our to-do list. Select feature updates could likely make their way into these updates. At this time we have no few features planned for immediate release.

Trade-in program (?)

Lastly, there was mention in the Reddit AMA about a possible trade-in program for customers to give their old handsets back when they upgrade to a new device. The fact that Essential responded saying that it was something the company had discussed internally was odd for the fact that Essential already announced that it had stopped development on a second-generation handset.

The chances are that if Essential did consider a trade-in program, it was before the company canceled its plan to continue building the Essential Phone 2.

Thanks for the suggestion! It’s something we’ve definitely discussed.

What do you think about everything discussed in Essential’s Reddit AMA? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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