In this guide we’ll go over everything you need to know about the Android P release. From how to enroll in the beta, what’s new in P, what to expect, and everything else you need to know. Keep in mind that this is an early developer preview (beta) and Google’s new OS won’t arrive until late 2018.
The Android P Beta is available for 11 different devices from seven manufacturers. That’s a first for Google, instead of only offering it for the Pixel and Pixel 2. You can sign up for the Pixel beta, or install it on phones from Sony, Oppo, OnePlus, Essential and more.
There’s plenty to get excited about in the next version of Android. It introduces a new gesture navigation system, a Dashboard that gives you an overview of the time you’ve spent on your device, battery life improvements and much more. All of which we’ll detail below.
Google surprised everyone and released Android P on March 7th. Albeit in a very early “alpha” preview form, only for developers, as a developer preview. And on May 8th released a second developer preview, available for multiple devices.
Before we get into everything it’s important to note that this isn’t something you should install. Well, unless you like living on the edge, are an Android developer, or you can handle stuff being broken. This is for techie nerds right now. This is the second of 4-5 developer previews of Android P.
Important Android P Links
If you’re a developer you’ll want to go to the Android P Developer page. Google also released an Android P program overview with tons of helpful information. Then, don’t forget to submit feedback to help improve the software moving forward.
What Devices is the Android P Beta Available?
For starters, you can try the Android P beta on any of 11 different phones from seven manufacturers. The list of supported phones is: Google Pixel/XL, Google Pixel 2/XL, OnePlus 6, Essential PH-1, Sony Xperia XZ2, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, and Vivo X21/UD.
These manufacturers just released more information too. Sadly, the OnePlus 5T isn’t a part of this group, and only the unannounced OnePlus 6. For more information click on these links from Essential, Nokia, Sony, Vivo, and Oppo to get started.
Join the Android P Beta Program and Try it Today
To start, just head to Google’s beta program website. That’s where you’ll see what device you own can try Android P. Go to Google’s Android P beta page, opt-in, agree to the terms, and wait for the Android P update to hit your device. I already received it on the Pixel XL, and it was over 400MB in size.
- Go to the Android Beta Program website
- Sign into Gmail (if you aren’t already)
- Scroll down and find your list of eligible devices
- Find the phone you want to use, then click the blue Opt-In button
- Agree to Google’s terms, and tap OK
If you have a phone from one of those other manufacturers, the process isn’t quite as easy. You’ll have to go to their developer-focused websites and flash the files. This is really easy if you own a Pixel or Pixel 2. Here’s more information about joining the Android beta program.
Additionally, you can manually install Android P if you’d like.
What’s New in Android P
Considering this is an early developer preview, and not anywhere near the final release, a lot will change. Similar to 2017 with Android O things are subject to change, evolve, or be removed completely by the time it’s actually released to the public. Google’s also only showing off a small percentage of what’s new, even if they shared a lot during Google I/O.
We’ll start with new Android P features announced at Google I/O, then continue with other tidbits from earlier this year.
- Gesture Navigation Controls: A single home button that allows you to swipe up and down to get into app switching, swipe to scroll, and more. Similar to gesture controls from OnePlus or Apple. Check out these new controls in our video below.
- Adaptive Battery: To extend battery life, Adaptive Battery limits battery for infrequently used apps. Your phone will learn how you use apps over time, and adapt accordingly. (Limit battery for apps you don’t use often)
- Android P Dashboard: This feature gives you a detailed overview of the amount of time you’ve spent on your phone. Everything from apps, unlocks, video watching timers and more. Helping with your “digital wellbeing”.
- App Usage Timers & Limits: Google added new app usage timers and limits you can set. That way your phone reminds you if you’ve watched too much Netflix. You can even use a new “Wind-down” mode at night that will turn everything black and white, helping you get off your phone and go to sleep. This way we use our phones less during the day, understand our usage, and put phones down at night.
The idea here is the Dashboard in Android P will show us just how obsessed we are with our smartphones, or what we do the most and for how long. Then, you can set usage timers and limits for the apps you overuse, that waste too much of your valuable day. Google wants us to look up at the world, or our spouse, not looking at our phones 24/7. This includes at night.
- App Actions: In the app tray you’ll see smart and helpful “App Actions” on top of your most-used apps. Like a button to call a friend or start a workout playlist. Instead of just the Phone app or the Spotify app icons.
- Family Link & Kid’s Time: Similar to the Dashboard and app limits for adults, Google is adding more controls to limit children in a smart and helpful way.
That’s only the beginning. Those are a few of the biggest announcements from Google IO regarding Android P. However, earlier this year Google announced other exciting features, and here’s another list.
- Display cutout support (The “notch”): Whether we like it or not, Android manufacturers are copying Apple’s iPhone X and the notch. The cutout on the screen is an eye-sore, but Google is making Android prepared for it. Android P makes it easier for developers to optimize apps and services to embrace the notch.
- Multi-camera API: Devices with two or more cameras will have more features with Android P. Developers an access both cameras simultaneously, and pull video or streams at the same time and blend it together. A lot of phones will have dual rear cameras moving forward, and this API will allow developers to do more with them. Expect this to change drastically throughout the beta period.
- Improved notifications & Messages: Notifications are once again getting a small overhaul, especially for text message or message notifications. App developers can now properly show media like images, GIF, stickers, contact information, conversations, smart replies and more all in the notification bar. Basically, making message notifications smart and better.
- Indoor positioning: With Android P Google added support for indoor positioning. Supporting the IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol (WiFi RTT). This improves indoor GPS, positioning, distance to an access point, and other things.
- Open Mobile API for NFC payments: Apps now have access to secure elements in devices, which will enable smart cart payments and improved mobile payment solutions.
- Data Cost and JobScheduler: A new platform to improve data usage by requesting large amounts of things to a carrier when the network isn’t congested, and other smart controls. Basically, a data scheduler to lower data usage.
- ImageDecoder: Better decoding, scaling, post-processing, and support for animated images and more
- Idle Apps Control: Google’s new system in Android P prevents idle apps from accessing the camera, microphone, and other sensitive aspects of a phone. Basically, for improved security apps in the background can’t access your microphone.
- Google Assistant Integration: We’re expecting tons of improvements to the Google Assistant and expect further integration into multiple aspects of our devices.
- Much More Coming Soon
This is just a small list of some of the highlight changes coming with Android P. They’re mainly aimed at developers, and we’ll learn about other exciting changes in May. Stay tuned for more details. This is all just hitting the wires.
Android P Release Date & Updates
So when will Android P actually get released? Well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. Last year Google unveiled O in March as a developer preview, and it wasn’t officially released until late August. We’re expecting something similar this year, and the photo below backs that up. According to official announcements, there will be five Android P developer preview betas released.
Preview 2 just arrived as the first official release in the beta program. That’s May 8th at Google I/O. Then, we can expect the third release in June that’s more stable and may add more devices to the beta program. Furthermore, Google’s going to release a fourth Android P beta in July.
As for the official release around the globe and to the general public, that’s around Q3 according to Google. Expect an Android P release date in August, as we’ve seen the last two years.
Will My Device Get Android P?
Any device released within the past two years or so should technically be capable of getting the update to Android P when it’s finally released. Manufacturers must support a device for at least 18-months from the day it’s released to the public. So like the Galaxy S7 may or may not get it, and any device released in early 2016.
You will get Android P on your device eventually, as long as it’s a somewhat new phone or tablet. We’re even hopeful that Google will add other manufacturers and devices (like the Galaxy S9) to the beta program before it arrives in August. That’s doubtful, but we can dream.
Additionally, most other device owners will need to wait for betas from those companies, like Samsung or HTC, or the global release date later this year.
In closing, this is everything you need to know so far. Google just dropped the second preview and beta, which means the work is just starting. We have a few months to wait, and lots of changes will come soon enough. In fact, some of the features will change or could go missing completely when it finally arrives. We saw this last year and expect it again.
However, it’s nice to know we can expect five updates to Android P, previews and beta periods that will help Google make it the best software possible. Keep in mind that most phones that run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box should support Project Treble. A new initiative to make software updates faster. This means hopefully most new phones will see Android P in 2018, not sometime in 2019.
The new Google Pixel 3 will likely be the first phone to run the official update to Android P later this year. Stay tuned for more details.