Blog Articles

Android 9 is here: new features and more

  • By Farrah Shawky
  • 09-08-2018
  • Software

Were you hoping for Pancake? Profiterole? Peanut butter cookies? Well, wishing time is over because Android 9.0 is here and it is called Pie - personally I think they should have gone with Petit four.

Finally, Android Pie has been released and if you’re lucky enough to own a phone that has received the update you can go get it now. And with Project Treble if your phone still hasn’t received the update and the wait might not be too long. But you can look up how to elsewhere, because we’re more interested in the new features Google is bringing with this new update.

Android 9 Pie

Gesture Navigation

Perhaps the biggest and most striking change in the new update is the way you navigate your android from here on. Say bye to the old 3 on-screen button layout, and hello to the all-new pill-shaped gesture button (don’t worry it is optional).

The new navigation framework consists of many smooth movements instead of the old tapping. Swipe up for recently used apps, tap for home, hold for Google Assistant, or drag sideways to switch to another app. It all makes sense!

It might take a bit of getting used to, but this new way of jumping around your phone does seem a lot more intuitive and smooth.

Gesture Navigation

Support for Screen Cutout

You know that thing with the iPhone X? The tiny bit of display cut out for the front facing camera? Well Android got jealous. And by Android I mean many manufacturers. We’ve already seen a handful of Android phones with screen cutouts, but Android just wasn’t ready for it and it was less than pretty.

Android Pie comes ready to handle screen cutouts of different shapes. With tiny alterations like moving time to the right side of the screen and splitting the the notification bar down in 2, Android Pie makes having a display cutout finally the treat it should be.

Screen Cutout support

Adaptive Battery

More juice? Yes please. Android 9 comes with what is called Adaptive Battery.

This silently intelligent new addition learns your usage behavior to increase your battery life. Adaptive Battery limits battery usage for apps you don’t use that often. That means that if there is a mobile app you have installed but rarely use, it will not be allowed to run in the background draining your precious battery time. It also means that you get less notifications from those apps you are not heavy on.

Of course this is all optional, and you can manually adjust which apps are put to sleep and which ones to keep wide awake. Adaptive Battery is not just about extending your battery life, but it’s also about being the boss of your phone.

Adaptive Battery

Digital Wellbeing

Okay so this one is definitely strange, but oh so intriguing. The new update comes with what Google touts as Digital Wellbeing: a suite of anti-smartphone addiction and productivity.

It seems counter-intuitive that your phone would want you to pick it up less, but smartphones can really be a horrible nuisance. Digital Wellbeing tracks the total time you spend on your phone and on specific apps and you can also set time limits for using each app so you don’t get sucked in. Even further, Digital Wellbeing can help prep you for sleep by turning on night light and slowly fading your display to grayscale as you wind down into a - hopefully - good night’s sleep.

That said, you might be a little bummed to realize that Digital Wellbeing will be available later this year and you still can’t get your hands on this feature.

Digital Wellbeing

Privacy Changes

This is a less obvious change, but it was really long overdue. Previous versions of Android allowed you to willingly give permission to apps to use your phone, camera, microphone, or location. That was good and all, but Android 9 comes to take this to the next level.

As of the new update giving permission to an app to use anything does NOT give it permission to use the data while it is idling in the background. That means that it is a lot harder for apps to run funny business that you’re unaware of. Again, Android Pie is about making you in charge of your phone.

These are the features that really caught our eye, but they are nowhere near the only features. The new update is full of small changes, behind-the-scene tweaks, bug fixes, security patches, and less dazzling but noticeable changes that we couldn’t hope to begin to list. Yet still, Android Pie is pretty exciting news for us - it got mixed gruntles from our Android developers - and we are really looking forward to utilising the new features in our apps.