The latest version of the Android OS, Android 9 Pie, is here, and with it come updates meant to upgrade your device to offer you a better and more enjoyable user experience.
While some of the new features are easily spotted when you install the update, still others which are very subtle, to the point that they are almost non-existent.
That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide to help you find some of the coolest new features that Google has put into Android Pie.
Without further ado, here are 10 of the best new features of the new Android 9 Pie:
For years, we have been using the traditional gesture setup comprised of Back, Home, and Recent buttons sitting nicely on the navigation bar located on the bottom of the screen. The new navigation system allows you to do quite a bit more with the home button alone.
In addition to the previous controls, you can now use the virtual home button to :
- Access the overview screen with a short swipe up,
- Access the app drawer with a long swipe up,
- Switch to the last used app with a flick right,
- Browse recently opened apps with a swipe right.
The new gesture system caught a lot of criticism for being unnecessarily complicated compared to the standard one, but at the very least, it offers a smoother switch between apps and easier navigation once you get used to it.
And, of course, you can turn these gestures off and on as you like. To activate them, turn on Swipe up on Home button under System > Gestures.
It might surprise you that instead of working to get you to use your phone more, the Android 9 Pie update actually helps you limit your device usage.
Digital Wellbeing is a Google initiative which was initially introduced at the Google I/O 2018 event back in May. Tristan Harris, an ex-Google employee, created a non-profit organization named Time Well Spent aimed to reverse the effects of “digital attention crisis” caused by spending too much time on gadgets.
The home page of Digital Wellbeing, accessible through the Settings menu, displays your usage stats for the day, including the total time you’ve spent on your device, a break down of which apps you’ve used and for how long, the number of times you’ve unlocked your device, and the number of notifications that you’ve received.
Digital Wellbeing also provides shortcuts to manage your notifications and turn on Do Not Disturb mode, helping you reduce interruptions and distractions.
The Do Not Disturb mode has also been revamped to not only block the noise created by incoming notifications but also hides them in all their entirety. If you still want to receive notifications without a noise alert, you can now silence your ringtone and notification alerts without turning on Do Not Disturb.
You can scroll down to the dashboard to monitor your use over the week and look back at your usage over previous days and weeks, as well as set timers to help you limit your app usage. Once the time quota is reached for the day, the app will be grayed out on your home screen and in the app drawer.
You can even use the Wind Down feature to set your device to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb mode and change your phone to gray scale when it’s time for you to go to bed. You never again have to be woken up in the middle of the night by a notification or look up from your screen in the evening and realize you were supposed to go to bed two hours ago.
And while you’re add it, set Night Light, a built in blue light filter, to automatically kick on at sunset to help your eyes rest and your brain get ready for sleep.
Improved Security Features
The Android Pie also enhances the security of your smartphone.
For one, it restricts an app from accessing your microphone and camera unless you are using it, even though you have given it a permission upon its installation.
The update also introduces Lockdown mode. When you feel like your security is being threatened, you can tap it and it will immediately exit the user to the lock screen, hide all the notifications, and require a password or PIN before someone can access it.
You can’t even use the fingerprint scanner or Face Unlock feature, which are biometric methods that others with wrong intent can use to access your device after harming you.
New Accessibility Menu
Although Android platforms come with a slew of accessibility gestures, not all are easily accessible to the user. The new accessibility menu collects all of them and puts them in one conspicuous place- on the navigation bar. The large menu icon has shortcuts to other apps and settings, including Google Assistant and More
A Switch between Light and Dark Themes
In previous versions of Android OS, the only way to get a darker-colored screen is to select a very dark wallpaper. Now, Android Pie lets you to manually choose a dark theme for your phone, the background will still remain darker than usual.
You can even set the theme to switch between light and dark based on the colors of your background!
Adaptive Brightness and Battery
Your smartphone’s adaptive brightness setting has gotten smarter: it not only analyzes the light coming from outside factors, but also remembers how bright you want the screen to be when using different apps. The next time you use your phone, the brightness will then change accordingly.
Android 9 Pie also brings this same intelligence to preserving your battery life, with features like Doze. It recognizes which apps you don’t use often and put them into a sleep to prevent them from running in the background and waste power. Using this strategy, only your frequently-used apps will make use of the power from the battery.
App Actions and Slices
The Android Pie is truly one smart platform. It can track your app usage and knows when you usually use a certain app. Depending on the time of the day, app shortcuts show up on the screen so that you can easily open them.
It can also predict what you’re about to do based on context. For instance, when you plug in headphones, it can guess that you want to listen to music, so it will show your recent playlist.
App Slices won’t roll out until the fall, but this handy feature will provide you the most important information from an app when you search for it in the Google bar.
Revamped Notification Bar
Due to the ever-growing number of smartphones having the infamous notch, the Android Pie adjusted its notification bar accordingly to further suit them.
The clock is now placed on the left side of the screen, leaving only the battery information and Wi-Fi icon on the right part. Only four notifications can be seen alongside the clock on the left edge, while the Bluetooth icon will now start to disappear when not connected with other devices to save space.
Moreover, the Android 9 knows which app notifications you usually swipe away and offers you an option to turn those off for good instead of frequently dismissing them from your screen (another way Android 9 allows you to reduce distractions and interruptions).
New Screenshot Feature
Dubbed as Markup, the built-in screenshot editor can easily take screenshots of anything plus the ability to crop, draw, and edit the image. You can also share your screengrabs without any hassle. Say goodbye to those awkward Volume + Power button clicks, as you just have to press the Power key to take a screenshot.
Effortless Screen Rotation
Tired of toggling between portrait and landscape mode? You don’t have to worry for more as the Android 9 Pie makes it easier than ever for you to rotate your screen, plus gives you the option to rotate your home screen. You also get a specialized button mainly for screen rotation once you turn the Auto-Rotate off.
Is my phone included in the update?
After having a sneak peek at all those new features the Android 9 Pie has to offer, you surely want to know whether your smartphone is receiving the much-anticipated update.
Of course, if you are a proud owner of a Google Pixel phone, you would get the latest platform without a doubt. For the folks out there who are using a Google Nexus 6p, we’re sad to say that you guys won’t be updating to the new OS and stick a little longer to the current Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s still no concrete information regarding Android P’s rolling out to Samsung handsets but at the very least, it is a probable thing. Among those Samsung devices which will most likely have the update is the Galaxy A3 (2017), Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S9, and Galaxy S9+.
The Android 9 Pie’s new features really look good on paper. But considering that most of us still don’t have the update in our phones, we are still yet to discover how the features turn out, whether it makes life easier and more comfortable or just adds to the complications of life.
All and all, however, the Android Pie is a great platform.
Instead of urging people to use their smartphones more and become addicted to it, it promotes a healthy relationship with your devices. It makes smart phones easier than ever to use, especially for those with disabilities, and helps users get the most out of their devices. And it just looks great!
So what do you think? Do you have Android Pie yet or are you still waiting? What new features are your favorites? Tell me all about it and ask any questions that you have in the comments below, then share this post on your favorite social media platforms to help your friends and family learn about Android 9, too!