Google made good on a pledge to introduce more artificial intelligence (AI) features in the latest version of its mobile operating system, Android Pie, touting the personalisation options the technology opens up.
In a statement, the company said the AI features of Android Pie are designed “to make your phone smarter, simpler and more tailored to you”. Many of the features had already been unveiled at Google’s I/O developer event, when CEO Sundar Pichai said AI and digital wellness features are being put in place “to give users back time”.
But, as ever, the fly in the ointment remains availability: while Google is able to control distribution to its Pixel devices and qualifying Android One devices, in other cases it will be down to hardware makers and operators to get the OS to users. And numerous vendors also make their own Android UI customisations, meaning the Android Pie users see will be different to the one Google is now touting.
Google statistics covering the seven days ended 23 July, based on devices visiting Play Store, showed only 12.1 per cent are running Android 8 Oreo variants compared with 30.8 per cent for Nougat, 23.5 per cent for Marshmallow and 20.4 per cent for Lollipop.
The company said Android 9 includes features such as adaptive battery, which learns the most-used apps and prioritises battery for them; and adaptive brightness, which automatically adjusts the screen to match learned user preferences. It also features “app actions”, which “predicts what you’ll want to do based on your context and displays the action right on your phone”.
Later in the year, Google will also rollout “slices”, which shows relevant information from apps when needed. For example, typing Lyft into Google Search will surface information from the app including prices and ETAs at the current location.
Google also said Pie will include an overhaul of the navigation, with the adoption of a single home button: “This is especially helpful as phones grow taller and it’s more difficult to get things done on your phone with one hand,” it stated in a blog post.
The home button will enable users to swipe up to see a newly-designed overview, which gives full-screen previews of recently used apps to switch between.
Android Pie also has a redesigned quick settings menu, a “better way” to take and edit screen shoots; simplified volume controls; easier management of notifications; “and more”.
Enterprise apps now have their own tab in the apps menu, “making them easier to find and distinctly separate from personal apps”: Android Pie also adds support for in-app switching of titles which exist in both profiles.
As previously touted, Android Pie also includes digital wellbeing features including a dashboard which helps users understand how time is spent using a device; an app timer enabling time limits to be set; and wind down, which turns on “do not disturb” and fades the screen to greyscale before bedtime.
Digital Wellbeing will launch on Pixel phones later this year, to be followed by Android One and other devices.
Google also highlighted continued improvements to the Android security framework including an improved security model for biometrics; hardware security capabilities to enable sensitive information to be secured on a dedicated chip; and web privacy enhancements.
Pecan pie would at least have started with the correct letter.