Google Pixel phones will receive the Android 9 Pie update starting today
Google has announced that the next major version of Android, now officially named Android 9 Pie, will be rolling out today to Pixel phones. Other Android phones will get the new mobile operating system “soon”.
Since the first public beta in May, Android Pie has gone through a few more beta releases before today’s drop. As a quick recap, Android Pie’s key features can be broadly grouped into three themes: simplicity, intelligence (though AI), and digital wellbeing.
The first thing you’ll notice after updating is the new gesture navigation system that features a single home button. To get full-screen previews of your recently used apps, simpy swipe up to enter the redesigned Overview view. Also new is Smart Text Selection, which recognizes the meaning of the text you’re selecting and suggests relevant actions. Other small but useful user-focused changes include a redesigned Quick Settings, new screenshot editing functions, and simplified volume controls.
Android Pie also uses AI to make your smartphone smarter and work more for you. There’s Adaptive Battery that learns the apps you use most and prioritizes battery for them, Adaptive Brightness that learns how you set screen brightness in different settings and does it for you automatically, and App Actions that predict what you want to do next and proactively suggest actions right on your phone. Slices, a feature that shows info from an app in other places where you might need it (e.g., Grab fares when you type “Grab” in Google Search) that we saw at this year’s I/O conference didn't make it in this release, but will launch “later this fall”.
Last but not least, Android Pie has several new capabilities to help you find the strike the right technology-life balance. Dashboard, which helps you understand how you’re spending time with your device, is the obvious place to start. If you found you’ve been spending way too much time in certain apps, you can use the App Timer function to set time limits. There’s a new Do Not Disturb too, which silences all visual interruptions that pop up on your screen, and a new Wind Down mode that will hint to you that it’s time to put down your phone by slowly transitioning your device’s screen from color to grayscale.
If you’ve a Pixel phone, you’ll get an over-the-air update to Android 9 (factory images and OTA images here for the really impatient). Devices that participated in the Beta program from Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as qualifying Android One devices, will get this update by the end of this fall. Google also says it’s working with number of other partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 9 this year; and if I were a betting man, I’d wager that the upcoming Galaxy Note9 will be one of the first new devices to get Android Pie.