• Google announced the first Android P developer preview for its Pixel smartphones.
  • Because of its unstable and buggy nature, Google advises developers to download the developer preview on a secondary device.

It arrived a bit earlier than expected, but the first Android P developer preview is available for Pixel phones. This is the end of the road for major platform updates for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.

With no final name for Android P in sight, the first developer preview seemingly focuses on changes that will affect developers. These changes include the following:

  • Notch support. Developers can tinker with APIs to simulate how content appears with the notch at the top. There are four options to choose from: None, Narrow display cutout, Tall display cutout, and Wide display cutout. Seeing the incoming wave of Android smartphones with notches, such a feature was inevitable, if depressing.
  • Multi-camera. The multi-camera API allows developers to access streams from two or more cameras simultaneously. The more straightforward scenario is recording the surroundings and your beautiful mug at the same time, though more novel applications could be possible.
  • Idle apps. Recent commits already confirmed this, but idle applications can no longer access the microphone, camera, or device sensors. Idle apps trying to access the camera, for example, will be met with system errors and possibly break as a result.
  • Enhanced notifications. The new “MessagingStyle” notification type allows developers to show conversations, attach inline photos and stickers, and include Smart Reply suggestions. Even though the extent of Smart Reply suggestions is unclear at the moment, Android Messages could be the first messaging app to integrate the new notification type.
  • Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT). Also known as IEEE 802.11mc, Wi-Fi RTT lets apps measure the distance between your device and the closest Wi-Fi access points to determine your indoor location. The protocol uses Android’s current location system to preserve privacy and does not actually connect to Wi-Fi access points.
  • HEIF and HDR VP9 support. Android P supports High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF), a relatively new format that packs twice as much image data as a JPEG image while maintaining a similar file size. HDR VP9 Profile 2, on the other hand, lets developers build playback support for HDR in their apps.
  • ART and Kotlin improvements. Improvements made to Android Runtime (ART) could allow apps to start faster and not consume as much system memory, though this will not be apparent in every case. More notably, any apps written in Kotlin will be faster.
  • Fingerprints, Autofill, and HTTP. Android P includes a standard system dialog that enables a more consistent fingerprint authentication UI. Autofill’s improvements, meanwhile, allow password managers to use the older compatibility option for autofill if an app does not support the feature. Finally, Android P blocks unencrypted HTTP traffic by default.

We will continue to tally all of the included features and update this article accordingly.

Editor's Pick

Before you jump to the Android developer website and download the developer preview, make sure you keep in mind its unstable nature. Ensure that you have another device next to you, since you will not want to install the developer preview on your main smartphone.

As previously mentioned, that second device must be a Pixel smartphone. The Android P developer preview is not available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or Pixel C, and this could be the end of major updates for the smartphones and tablet. They will still receive security updates through the end of 2018.

You can download the first Android P developer preview at the link below. It is available for the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. The good news is that there will be an Android Beta release at some point.