Android P, recently reported to arrive sometime in mid-March, just went official. Google is in a hurry to let developers get a bite of its new dessert in store. While we don’t yet know what moniker Android P will go by (Pie, Pancake?), the release of Developer Preview 1 shows that it has quite a few features in store for Android users.
- Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle.” If an app is in the background and not active, they won’t be able to access your microphone. This is a huge bummer for Facebook-is-listening-to-you conspiracy theorists.
- Built-in support for more video and image codecs, including HDR VP9 Profile 2 and HEIF (heic), with the latter bringing Android more in line with how iOS does things. Google also promises more information “later this year” on “enhancing and refactoring the media APIs to make them easier to develop and integrate with.”
- A multi-camera API so an Android app can individually request the data from more than one camera sensor at once. So for phones that have two cameras on the back, there will be a standard way for apps to more granularly control them.
- Support for Wi-Fi RTT (Round-Trip-Time), which allows apps to get indoor positioning data down to a meter or two. It works by measuring the distance to various Wi-Fi access points.
- Better Autofill, which should make it easier for password managers to enter your password for you so you aren’t constantly doing a switch-apps-and-copy-and-switch-apps-and-paste dance.
- Improved performance for ART and apps written in Kotlin.
- Changes to the bits that control power efficiency in Android, including Doze, Standby, and Background Limits. The Job Scheduler also is getting smarter about understanding the device’s network state and batching apps network requests together. Apps that want to fetch data in the background will need to be tested against all of that.
- Google is also warning developers that Android P is going to start throwing up warning boxes at users when they install apps that “targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2.” Basically, if you’re not using a recent SDK for your app, Google will make you feel bad by making your users distrust your app a little. It’s also going to expect that apps submitted to the Google Play store target Android Oreo in November and, in 2019, that they support 64-bit hardware.
- Google is also going to start “a gradual process to restrict access to selected non-SDK interfaces.” That’s code for “use the public APIs that we have created for Android or maybe someday your app won’t work” (not an actual quote). The company is taking this one slowly and is encouraging developers to reach out if their app isn’t covered