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Android P: All the new features and tools announced (so far)

Here's a look at what's inside Android P. Just remember there will be more features and capabilities added later in the preview. Google will have more to share at Google I/O 2018 in May, too.
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By ZDNet Editors, Contributors on
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Android P - Developer preview

Google has launched the first developer preview of the next major version of Android.

It's an early build for developers only, so Google can get feedback from them. It will also give developers the opportunity to get started using the software's new features and tools. They'll be able to incorporate these updates into all their apps and experiences and be ready to go when Android P officially launches for consumers this fall.

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Android P - Display cutout support

Now developers can take full advantage of the latest device screens with fullscreen content.

That means Android devices with iPhone X-like display notches are here to stay. Using the new display cutout feature in Android P, developers can easily build apps that automatically work around any black notch -- without having to worry about important information or navigation features being hidden behind it.

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Android P - Multi-camera API

With this API, which is basically a set of programming instructions and standards, developers can now access streams simultaneously from two or more cameras on devices running Android P.

On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, they can create features that are not possible with just a single camera. For instance, this API lets apps offer a "fused camera stream" that automatically switches between two or more cameras.

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Android P - HDR VP9 Video and HEIF image compression

Updates to video playback and image compression are also included in Android P.

Google is adding support for HDR VP9 Profile 2 and HEIF for developers to integrate into their apps. With HDR VP9 Profile 2, it'll be easier to deliver HDR-enabled movies to Android device users from YouTube, Play Movies, and other sources on HDR-capable devices. As for HEIF, it's a popular format that improves compression to save on storage and network data.

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Android P - Improved messaging notifications

In Android P, Google has implemented a new style for message notifications. They will now highlight who is messaging and can show conversations, attach photos and stickers, and even suggest smart replies.

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Android P - Indoor positioning with Wi-Fi RTT

Android P has added platform support for the IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol -- also known as Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time (RTT).

This will allow developers to take advantage of indoor positioning in their apps. On Android P devices with hardware support, their apps can measure the distance to nearby WiFi Access Points and calculate a device position with an accuracy of 1m to 2m. They can then offer new experiences, like in-building navigation, location-based services with voice control ("Turn on this light"), and location-based information ("Are there special offers for this product?").

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Android P - Power efficiency

Google said that Android P continues to refine Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits -- all power efficiency features currently available in Android Oreo -- to further improve battery life.

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Android P - Play Store guidelines

Starting with Android P, Google is taking steps to ensure developers aren't using private APIs when developing apps. As a result, in November of 2018, all apps submitted to the Google Play Store will need to target Android Oreo or newer. Also, at some point in 2019, all Android apps will need to support 64-bit hardware.

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Android P - Enhanced privacy

Google wants to add a little more "privacy" to Android P.

With the new software, all apps must encrypt data traffic. Android P will also now require you to enter your passcode at the lock screen once you restore your encrypted backup from the cloud. Furthermore, there will be no more sensor spying. If an app is idle and in the foreground, your device's microphone will report empty audio and stop reporting events. Lastly, Android P will provide a consistent popup whenever it wants to authenticate a user with a fingerprint.

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Android P - Other minor improvements

Google introduced the Neural Networks API in Android 8.1 to accelerate on-device machine learning on Android. Now, with Android P, it's expanding and improving this API, with Neural Networks API 1.1. It adds support for nine new ops.

Android P also continues to improve the Autofill Framework. Along with bug fixes, this preview includes new APIs that allow password managers to enhance the Autofill user experience using better dataset filtering, input sanitization, compatibility mode, and more.

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