While everyone expected Android P launch on August 20, Google officially released Android 9 Pie — the latest Android version, on 6th August exclusively for Google Pixel-series smartphones. While Essential phone already received the Android 9 update, other smartphones partnered under Project Treble should receive the Android Pie update soon.
— Android (@Android) 6 August 2018
The new Android 9 Pie User Interface (UI) received several meticulous changes and enhancements to provide more efficient navigation with elegant look. But the most important contributions in the Android 9 are the AI-based features through machine learning techniques. The AI-based features on Android 9 intelligently assist smartphone-users to quickly access applications and also optimally utilize the phone’s modest resources.
Battery power optimization and conservation
In all smartphones, the battery’s backup is the most precious resource that every phone manufacturer try to boost in their new releases. To optimize battery usage, Android 9 Pie has introduced Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness features. During phone idle, the Adaptive Battery feature prioritizes the frequently used apps for CPU usage and restricts the least used applications. This feature learns the users’ app-usage behavior to prioritize the apps and extend the battery life. Next, the Adaptive Brightness feature also helps to extend the battery life by auto-adjusting the screen brightness by learning the user’s screen-brightness adjusting behavior at different times.
Pre-determining user actions
The Android 9 Pie assists users to perform tasks quicker with the App Action and Slice features. In the App Action, the Android 9 OS anticipates user’s future actions. Based on smartphone usage pattern, the Android 9 prompts a quick-launch list upon sensing an event. Example, displaying a favorite music (or movie) to play or a favorite contact to call after sensing the headphone insertion. The predictive action is also suggested by “Smart Linkify” feature which recognizes the context and prompts actions when a user highlights a text. On other hand, the Slice feature displays a mini snippet containing most likely performed actions upon searching an app. Example, searching the Uber app would show a snippet with quick links to book a cab to user’s usual destinations.
Unchaining the users from their smartphone
Recent research studies have shown users’s quality of life degrading with increasing time spent on smartphones, laptops or televisions. Since smartphones are pocket friendly, the adverse effects on the users are higher with smartphones. Either for altruistic or for rational reasons, Google under its Wellbeing program introduced the “App dashboard” feature to log user’s app usage statistics such as time spent, access frequency of apps, etc. Additionally, the user can set time restrictions on apps with App Timer feature. Complementing these features, the “Wind Down” and “Sush” mode also empowers the Google’s Wellbeing program. The Wind Down mode turns the screen into grayscale by activating the Do-Not-Disturb mode for an appointed time and duration. The Sush mode bars all calls, except from favorite contacts, when the phone is layed flat on the screen.
Privacy and Security in Android 9 Pie
In Android 9, the security and privacy of users have been taken seriously. Previous Android releases (Android 7 and Android 8) used compiler-based security mitigation technique to counter bug exploitation and prevent vulnerabilities. To enhance the robustness of this security technique, Android 9 Pie introduced new security models such as Control Flow Integrity and Integer Overflow Sanitization. The former model prevents code-reuse attacks and the latter protects against sensitive data exposure from memory leaks. Besides, very sensitive data are now stored inside a secure dedicated hardware. Next, Android 9 has strengthened the biometric authentication for apps and has set HTTPS for apps in factory settings.
On the privacy front, the background apps are now restricted to access microphone and camera without user consent. This prevents malicious apps from spying on users by listening to conversation or recording calls/videos. Also, the Android 9 protects the Internet activities of an app from monitoring by other background apps.