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Home > New Gear > Android 9 Pie: artificial intelligence at it best
Android 9 Pie: artificial intelligence at it best

Android 9 Pie: artificial intelligence at it best

By  GB Blog Official 2018-08-17 3220 2

After much speculation about Google’s latest operating system, Android 9 P is finally here — and we also know that P, quite classically, stands for “pie”. Officially released on August 6th for Google Pixel devices and the Essential Phone, Android 9 Pie (Android Pie or Android 9.0) is a major upgrade from the previous versions. What new features does Android Pie bring to the table? Let’s find out.


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Android 9 Pie

Android 9 Pie: new features

If there is a theme to Android's latest OS, we'd say it is artificial intelligence (as you may have guessed from the title of this post. Why do we think that? Because AI or machine learning seems to be the underlying theme of almost every Android 9 upgrade. Just see for yourself.

App actions

App actions are an enhanced continuation of the feature we've seen in previous operating systems under the name of Suggested Apps. But in Android 9.0, this feature takes on a completely different form. In this version of the OS, App Shortcuts have become a smart functioning part of the interface thanks to machine learning.

Over time, the system will learn how, when and for what you typically use certain apps and bring up these specific app actions into the app drawer (just below the first row of app icons). You don't choose what app actions show up here — instead, Android Pie does the work based on your habits. Typical examples would be seeing Spotify's Weekly Playlist here, a route you take to work from Google Maps, a recent Podcast you've been listening to, etc.

Android 9 Pie app actions

App slices

App slices smarten up the way we do search. In previous versions of Android, when you did a search for an app, you would have the app icon itself pop up in your search results. On Android Pie, you will not only see the app icons but also relevant information from the apps in question. Google often illustrates how the feature works with the example of Lyft: you search will bring up not only the app itself but also time estimates for your frequent trips.

app slices function on Android 9 Pie


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Gesture navigation

In Android, are used to the three navigation icons at the bottom of the screen. Android Pie, however, alters this base element as well. The three icons have been replaced with a single pill-shaped digital button. Long-press the button, and you will see Google Assistant pop up. If you swipe up from it, you will get to the latest app you were using. Here, you can scroll horizontally though all the apps you have open as well. If you swipe up again, you will be taken to the app drawer. Tap on the icon, and you will get Home.

Yep, the new feature may be coming with a bit of a learning curve — especially, since the back button has been done away with. Overall, the new system makes the interface more fluid — much in the same way as gesture navigation does for the iPhone X.

But if you're set in your ways and prefer to have all your navigation buttons right there where you can see them, Google has your conservative back: you can go to Settings and choose the old button layout.

the gesture navigation on Android 9 Pie

Adaptive battery

Optimizing battery life has been on the forefront of all the latest Android software upgrades. Android 9 Pie has summed up all of these and more under the Adaptive Battery feature, applying machine learning to the solve the battery drain problem.

How? The feature will prioritize your favourite/most frequently used apps while limiting the use of the phone's resources for those apps that you use less often. Over time, the system will learn your habits and will be able to predict what apps you are going to use next — but that will take a bit of learning on the part of Android, so you won't see the effects of the upgrade right away.

the adaptive battery on Android 9 Pie


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Digital wellbeing

Digital wellbeing is, perhaps, one of the most peculiar new Android features. Its purpose is to limit the amount of time you spend staring at your phone screen — yep, you've read that right. As part of the Time Well Spent movement, a number of companies including Facebook and Apple, have been making initiative to encourage reasonable phone use.

So what exactly is Digital Wellbeing on Android 9.0? In the new OS, you can go to Settings and see how much time you've spent on your phone over a specific period of time and what apps are appearing to be the biggest time suckers. You will see how many times you've unlocked your phone, how many notifications you've received, etc. You can take action here as well: set timers on certain apps, decide when you want the phone to go into gray-scale mode, establish the parameters for the Do Not Disturb mode, and more.

the digital wellbeing on Android 9 Pie

Note that this feature is still in Beta on the current version of Android Pie and the full version is scheduled for release in the fall on Google Pixel devices.

Smart rotation

Android Pie is all about getting in your head and trying to see what you might want to do next. And this manifests itself in the tiniest details — even screen rotation. In previous versions of Android, you had the choice between locked Portrait Mode or Auto Rotation. With Android 9 Pie, you do have the same system in place — but with an upgrade. If you are locked in Portrait Mode but rotate your phone as if you are trying to switch to Landscape Mode, you will see a button pop up in the navigation bar that will suggest switching to and locking in Landscape Mode.

the smart rotation function on Android 9 Pie

Adaptive brightness

Adaptive brightness is another AI-based feature aiming to solve the "one size fits all approach". We've already experienced some version of adaptive brightness in previous versions of Android where your screen would adjust the light conditions you are in. What these features failed to take into account are your preferences — and this is why the situation where you still had to bring up the on-screen scroller and adjust the brightness manually occurs way more often than desired. To counter that, Adaptive Brightness monitors on how you adjust screen brightness depending on light conditions and then takes that into account when auto-adjusting brightness.

Safety and privacy

One very understandable concern that comes up when with an AI-based operating system is privacy. Yes, machine learning can significantly improve your mobile experience by taking into account your habits and preferences. Then again, some of us may not feel comfortable with having the AI "eyes" on us 24/7. To counter these fears, Google assures its users that all the gathered information about your mobile use habits will be stored on the device and not on the cloud. More than that, there are several important upgrades in privacy for third party apps as well. The biggest one is that apps running in the background will not have access to your phone's mic, camera and sensors. If the app in question tries to access your camera, for instance, an error message will pop up. The new feature aims to tackle the dubious nature of app permissions.


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Android 9 Pie: which phones will get update?

If you own of Google's phones be that Google Pixel or the Essential Phone, then you can skip right through this part: those with a Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can download the update right now and explore all the features we've written about here first hand.

The rest of us should be getting the update this fall — that is, if we are lucky and your phone participated in the Android 9 Pie Beta program. The lucky phones include Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21UD and X21. OnePlus have confirmed that their phones will be receiving the new software as well, namely the OnePlus 6, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T.


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Android 9 Pie: summing things up

Android 9 Pie is arguably the best version of Android OS to date. Then again, this should come as no surprise as the company has consistently brought forward better and more advances interface versions.

As we've mentioned a few times in this post, Android 9 Pie puts a lot of focus on machine learning and uses the gathered data to improve the fluidity of the interface.

Complete with enhanced security, better battery life and even the shiny new Digital Wellbeing feature, Android 9 Pie is a very strong step into, what we believe, is a consistently good direction.


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