Android P comes with exquisite features like notch support to indoor navigation.

It’s just 3 months into 2018 and Google is once again releasing an early preview of the next major version of Android. The Android P Developer Preview is out right now for developers and eager Android enthusiasts to take for a test drive. It’s still very early in the news cycle for Android P, and while we haven’t installed it yet, we do have a lengthy Google Blog post to draw details from. Here’s a look at the top five features from the first developer preview of Android P.

1. The new status bar with notch support

Let us give it to Apple for having introduced to us the iconic ‘notch’. Manufacturers are already experimenting with the design on their upcoming smartphones and to help them leverage it is Android P. The next version of Android comes with a native support for the notch or ‘display cutout’, as Google prefers to call it. The notch simulator allows developers to simulate a full-screen experience around the notch to check how apps deal with the different types of cutouts.

 

2. The all new Notification Panel.

The new look for notifications also includes a new look for notifications from messaging apps: they will be able to include recent lines from your conversation if you want to reply inline right inside the notification. It’s similar to how iOS handles iMessage notifications, but without all that force-touch fuss. Apps will also be able to include “Smart replies” , images, and stickers directly in the notification.

 

3. Indoor navigation with Wi-Fi RTT

Accurate indoor positioning has been a long-standing challenge that opens new opportunities for location-based services. Android P adds platform support for the IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol — also known as WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT) — to let you take advantage of indoor positioning in your apps.

 

4. More media support

Android P adds support for the HDR VP9 Profile 2 codec, making it easy to deliver HDR video from sources like YouTube, Play Movies, and others. There’s also support for the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF), a modern JPEG alternative that is already supported in iOS and Mac OS. JPEG is more than 20 years old, so it should be no surprise that a brand-new image format can do a better job than JPEG.

 

5. Multi-camera API

With phones shipping with more and more cameras, Android’s existing camera API is getting a bit of an upgrade. If you’re running Android P on a phone with dual front or back cameras, apps will get a camera stream that “automatically switches between two or more cameras.” Google says this will allow developers to “create innovative features not possible with just a single camera.” For Google in particular, this will probably help the company’s augmented reality framework, ARCore, which today cannot use dual rear cameras to see in 3D.

The above are just the highlights. There has also been work done on the Kotlin programming language, a new version of the neural network API introduced in Android 8.1, and another new fingerprint API.

The Android Developer Preview releases are only ever the AOSP side of Android. There is a whole world of proprietary Google code that accompanies any major Android release, which we aren’t seeing right now—what we have only gives us half the picture. This is also just the first developer preview release of Android P. There will be many more preview releases coming down the road, with a final release usually coming around September. Google promises “more features and capabilities” in future preview releases, and the company says it will have “even more to share at Google I/O.” Let’s hope for the best!

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