Google launched Android 9 Pie on August 6, 2018, which harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to make the most out of your phone in a way that’s tailored for you.
Like every other time — almost — Google has made plenty of changes across ten different parameters such as Accessibility, Privacy and Security, Display, Camera, Digital Wellbeing and a few more.
Currently, the latest version of Android has only been released for Pixel devices with the rollout for smartphones of other brands scheduled for later this fall. You can read more about it here.
Here we are going to discuss the 40 new features that you will see in your device when updated with Android 9 Pie. Few of these features will only be available upon beta signup, and others like Slice will only be available later this Fall.
Related Read: Android 9 Pie (Go Edition): Everything you need to know
With the new Accessibility Menu, everyday actions like taking a screenshot or navigating using a single hand have become more comfortable.
Select to Speak – OCR in Camera View
Select to Speak allows you to select text on the screen, and that content is read aloud. OCR support for Select to Speak in Camera and Pictures has been added in Android 9 Pie.
This makes the text more accessible than before. All you need to do is select the text while using the camera or in a picture, and it will be highlighted and read aloud.
This feature gives the user over 100 settings to boost audio in scenarios where the ambient noise is loud, such as restaurant, bar or concert. This makes it easier for users to understand conversations in varying environments with greater ease.
Battery and Brightness
Battery saver keeps the juice going for longer by turning features such as Always-On display. You also have more control over when it’s enabled or disabled — making it easier to sustain the device on one charge for longer if you wish.
This feature learns which apps are used by you the most and then prioritises battery usage accordingly. This way, you can use the device for an increased number of hours on a single charge.
This feature learns over some time that how you increase or decrease brightness depending on the time of the day or ambient lighting and then would do that for you eventually.
With the Android 9 update, you’ll see recommendations in Settings to restrict specific apps that drain the battery. This gives you more control over your battery life on a single charge.
With Android 9, developers will be able to create immersive experiences that make use of streams from two or more physical cameras — for devices with dual-front or dual-back cameras.
These immersive experiences may include effects such as depth, bokeh, stereo vision and more.
External camera support
Certain devices will now be able to support external USB/UVC cameras with the Android 9 update.
Do Not Disturb
Do not disturb is a handy feature if you get distracted easily — which is pretty standard on a small screen. This feature blocks any pop-up notifications when enabled.
The Do Not Disturb feature can be useful when you’re reading or watching something.
The new dashboard helps users understand how they’re spending time on the device — how much time is being spent, on which unique applications.
This feature switches on the Night Light mode on-screen and Do Not Disturb feature too. It also fades the screen to grayscale before bedtime.
The App Timer lets you set time limits on an app’s usage and when the time is up that app’s icon turns grey on your home screen — discouraging you from using it more.
Android 9 Pie brings enhanced support for devices with cutouts to make use of available screen space.
The latest version of Android also brings along support for devices with 18:9 and taller aspect ratios and devices with display cutouts.
Multiple users on dedicated devices
This feature makes it easy for colleagues in the same working space — may be doing different shifts — to share a single device as multiple user profiles can exist on the same device running Android Pie.
Work tab in the launcher
Work tab makes it easier for users to forget about work all together once they log out of office. It allows you to visually separate the work apps that will show or hide with a simple toggle.
Postpone Over-the-air (OTA) updates
With Android 9, Enterprise IT admins can enable a freeze period for up to 90 days. During this time, devices in their company will not be updated to the new Android OS.
This ensures that their devices states remain unchanged during an extended period of leaves or holidays.
Multiple Bluetooth connections
Android 9 allows you to connect your smartphone to up to five unique Bluetooth devices and seamlessly switch between them.
Any incoming calls are sent to all of the connected devices that support calling functionality.
Sound delay reporting
Sound delay reporting makes the audio and video sync on your device even more seamless so that you never run into trouble with the video on your device and audio on your headphones.
Volume memory per Bluetooth device
Android 9 helps your phone remember the last volume set for each of the connected audio Bluetooth devices connected with it. This means no more sudden blasts of music when reconnecting your car audio or headphones.
The latest version of Android brings built-in support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) VP9 Profile 2. This means you can now watch HDR-enabled movies on YouTube and Google Play Movies.
HDR improves the brightness and colour range of video, which enhances the viewing experience and picture quality.
Enhanced support and performance for HD audio — it’s clearer, sharper and richer in quality.
With Android 9, your device will now also support HEIF photos on the Android platform. This improves compression of pictures and reduces the amount of storage needed.
Notification enhancements for messaging
Suggested ‘smart replies’ for messaging apps will now be available in the notifications window, which helps you respond with a simple tap.
Other than this, inline drafts won’t vanish if you navigate away and you’ll now also be able to see images that your friends sent in the notifications.
Managing notifications gets easier with Android 9 Pie as it gives you a quick way to turn off notifications from a range of apps. This helps you receive notifications from apps that you deem essential.
If you keep swiping away notifications from a certain app, you’ll see a ‘smart prompt’ that’ll ask whether you want to continue receiving those notifications or not.
Also read: How to install Android on a Raspberry Pi
Privacy and Security
Android backups now have enhanced encryption with a client-side secret — the device PIN, pattern or password — which provides better security.
Android biometric prompt
Another one of the new security features introduced in Android 9 is a standardised biometric authentication prompt, which provides a more consistent authentication experience across Android. Probably much like iOS has in place.
Android Protected Confirmation
On devices with compatible hardware, apps will now be able to use UI controlled by the secure hardware to get your confirmation for sensitive transactions like making a using your bank account/credit card details to make a payment.
On devices with compatible hardware, apps will now be able to take advantage of tamper-resistant hardware that protects their private keys. This makes it harder for malware to steal credentials.
Now Android restricts an app’s access to your phone’s microphone, camera, and other sensors while it’s idle or running in the background.
Whenever an app needs to access a particular sensor, a persistent notification will be shown on your phone. Android 9 also protects all web communications better than before and also offers private web surfing.
System Useability Enhancements
At-a-Glance on Always-on-Display
Always-on-Display, which were popularised by Samsung Galaxy S series devices make their way as a default feature on devices running on Android 9 Pie.
You will also be able to see things like calendar events and weather on your lock screen and Always-on-Display.
Redesigned Quick Settings
The new AI-powered Android release brings to you more intuitive and consistent experience for Quick Settings with all toggles. Besides, visual design has also been updated, and there is some added informational subtext too.
The new accessible volume controls not only makes it easier for you to control media volume instantly but also toggle call and notification volume settings.
Taking screenshots and editing them on the go has also been made easier in the Android 9 Pie update. Now you can take screenshots from the power menu and draw, annotate or crop them quickly.
Screen rotation can become a hassle at times, but the new Android Pie makes sure that it’s a seamless experience for its users.
Now you can control your phone’s display rotation using a simple button that confirms when you’d like to change the display’s orientation from landscape to portrait or vice-versa even if the orientation is locked.
New system navigation
Android 9 Pie comes with more intuitive system navigation that helps you get around your device a lot easier. Now you can switch between apps and get to the required app more easily using gestures instead of buttons.
The new system navigation sports a single home button. You can swipe up to see full-screen previews of recently used apps and simply tap on the home button to jump back into one of them.
Now, if you keep shuffling between your recent apps frequently, Android 9 Pie has another cool feature doing new things — Smart Text Selection now works on the overview of your recent apps.
The new system navigation can be enabled from the Settings once your device receives an update to Android 9 Pie.
The new App Actions will help you get things faster on Android 9 Pie. It predicts what you’ll like the phone to do next depending upon your context, and the device will display actions on your phone that you can choose to get things done quicker.
This feature predicts what you’re about to do by learning from your habits and then starts predicting your likely actions in advance.
For example, if you’re preparing for a commute on Tuesday morning, the device will suggest you open Google Maps to navigate or resume an audiobook with Google Play Books or resume a movie on Play Movies.
Similarly, when you get off from work, App Actions will suggest you to either call one of your most frequently called contacts at that time of the day or even display an option to start your favourite Spotify playlist.
This feature isn’t being rolled out alongwith the launch, but Google plans to add this feature to Android 9 Pie this fall. Slices will show relevant information from your favourite apps when you need it.
So if you start typing ‘Uber’ into your Google Search, you’ll see a Slice of the Uber app showing you prices for the ride home and ETA for drivers near you. This helps you to make decisions more quickly.
Using this feature, you can long-press to select a text or an image in Overview mode and see actions based on what you’ve chosen. Like if it’s an option to route to an address, Google Maps might show up, or a share icon for an image might appear.
Prayank heads the Editorial at Candid.Technology. When not writing, he loves taking trips on his bikes or chugging beers as Manchester United battle rivals.
Contact Prayank via email: [email protected]