Google has officially launched Android P. The announcement was made by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering with Google, who shared the news that the first developer preview of Android P is being released starting today. The new version will include several new tools for developers and features for end users. With this initial release, the preview version is available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones as well as the Android Emulator. Developers will have to manually download and flash this onto their devices to be used for testing and development.
Among the improvements, one that was probably added a bit later in the process was support for a screen cutout in the display. This is no doubt thanks to Apple and the manufacturers of Android devices who are choosing to copy that design feature. Google is adding in new APIs to help developers figure out how best to accommodate cutouts with the APIs managing the status bar area around the cutout.
A new feature that is getting top billing from Google is support for indoor positioning through the use of WiFi Round-Trip-Time or RTT. The RTT APIs will make use of WiFi access points that are operating with the 802.11mc protocol to triangulate a position to within 1 to 2 meters. Google says the calculations will be handled on the device as part of an effort to maintain some privacy for users.
In Android P, users can expect messaging app notifications to become even more functional than what the current state is. This will include the ability to access functions like smart replies or attach photo and stickers through the notification interface instead of opening the messaging app. By doing this, users can maintain contact with others without having to jump out of another app they may be using.
Google says they are adding separate access to camera lens streams on devices that have two or more physical cameras. Having more than one lens on a device has enabled manufacturers to make features like better bokeh effects, higher zoom capabilities or stereo vision to smartphones, but in the past the streams from the different lens have essentially been treated as one. With Android P, developers will be able to access each stream separately or fuse them depending on what they are trying to achieve.
A whole host of other improvements will be included, ranging from things like better, more consistent fingerprint security support to a default Network Security Configuration that blocks cleartext traffic. Google also says they will block access to sensors, mics and cameras when they are idle.
More details and information will be forthcoming during the development process. Google says they are targeting Google I/O for major discussion and reveals about what will be forthcoming with Android P. We do not expect the name to come up then.