The Android P, the code name for Android 9.0, is set for official launch on August 20, 2018 according to a tweet by Evan Blass. Update (07/08/18): Android P (Pie), the latest Android 9 version is now officially launched by Google on August 06, 2018.
— Android (@Android) 6 August 2018
Android P release timeline
Google unveiled Android P Beta version during Google I/O conference held in May 2018. Google’s last Android-release was Android Oreo (Android 8) on last August, 2017. The Android P’s first release was on March 2018 referred as “Developer Preview 1” (DP1) and the following release in May 2018 was the Beta version, also known as the DP2. As of today, 3 more developer preview versions are out, recent being the “Developer Preview 5 (Beta 4)” released on July 2018. The DP1 was exclusively released for Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL.
Under Project Treble, the subsequent developer preview releases of Android P Beta versions supported non-Google devices such as Essential Phone, Nokia 7 Plus, OnePlus 6, Oppo R15 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ2, Vivo X21UD, Vivo X21 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S.
Android P UI new look
The UI of Android P (Android 9) has got minor interesting tweaks and major changes. For the first time, Android now shows battery percentage, but only on the lock screen and at the bottom. Upon unlocking, the legacy battery icon without the percentage can be seen. Next, the numeric time display has been shifted from top-right to top-left. The reason might be to give a more symmetric look after making provision for a notch which has been widely seen in many big brand smartphones. Also the google search bar widget which was always on the top of the home-screen is now moved to the bottom. Next, the quick-settings pull-down menu icons becomes solid (blue) color upon activated. Also, the background portion containing the time, battery and other icons, turns black color once the quick-settings menu is pulled down. The black background would mask if any notch is present on any phone that runs Android P mobile operating system. Besides, the Android P has smooth rounded corners for all the rectangular background boxes; giving the UI an elegant look.
A major change introduced in Android P UI is the single pill-shaped gesture-based soft button at the bottom-center of the screen, replacing the legacy 3 buttons for back, home and recent-apps navigation. In the Android 9 factory settings, the UI has the legacy 3 buttons initialized. So, in order to set the gesture button one need to manually enable it by going to the settings. Next, though the recent-app button is completely eliminated in Android P UI, the back button shows up on the bottom-right only when any new window is opened. Tapping the back button takes you back to the previous window and the back button disappears upon landing on the home screen. And as usual, tapping the gesture button will instantly takes you back to the home screen.
On first glimpse, the gesture button on Android P seems somewhat similar to the circular button present in the Apple IOS. But the gesture button has innovative navigation features embedded into it. It can switch between 2 recently opened apps when swiped from its initial position at bottom-center towards right. Sliding it persistently left to right (i.e. back & forth) without taking off your finger from it will allow you to toggle between all the recently opened apps. Alternatively sliding it slightly up would open the recent-apps screen. Sliding all the way up would open the installed app repository screen. Next, the recent-apps screen in the Android 9 (Android P) opens just above the google search widget on the home screen instead of opening in a separate window like in the earlier Android versions. Also, the recent-app windows are arranged side-by-side instead of like stacked dominoes.