We still have the hangover of the Google I / O conference, but that has not stopped us from trying the most interesting novelty of all those presented. We speak, of course, of the first beta of Android P, a version that introduces new changes on the preview that we already tested in its day and that, for the first time, can be installed on more models besides the Pixel. Let’s welcome Android P Beta as it deserves, with some first impressions.
The first beta of Android P releases a few new features such as gesture control, adaptive battery and brightness systems, App Actions and other minor changes that we will see below. However, there are other features announced yesterday such as the Dashboard to control the use we make of the mobile phone that are not yet available.
Before starting, it is worth remembering that Android P Beta is that, a beta, that is, it is not yet the definitive version of the system and many of the presented novelties could change, in addition to which new ones will arrive. For the final version with the commercial name (will it be Pancake or Chocolate Palm?) We will have to wait until August, when Google usually releases the new versions.
Control by gestures: the most prominent change (and also the rarest)
First we go with the most important novelty and that supposes a greater impact in the handling of the terminal: the gestures. Until now, Android had three navigation buttons: back, start and recent. With Android P we can continue having this same system, but a new one is introduced. If we go to Settings – System – Gestures we can activate the new interface by gestures, the change that undoubtedly draws our attention and that is strangest at first.
The main change of this system by gestures is that the button of recent disappears and the start button adopts an elongated form. Now, to see the apps that we have open you just have to swipe up and a new multitasking interface will open where we have all the apps running as cards.
A second gesture sliding upwards leads to the drawer of apps, although it is also possible to access this section directly if we make a longer gesture. Finally, if we move the start button to the right, we will automatically see the recent apps and we can move along them by sliding sideways. To understand how it works, it is best to see it in action.
After spending a few hours with the control by gestures of Android P, I can say that I start to get used to it, but it costs a bit to catch the point after so many years using the same system. The point that hits me the most, and I guess it will hit most users, is that now I can not go to the drawer of apps with the usual gesture but I have to repeat it or make a much longer gesture.
The impact is remarkable in the use, but I must say that it feels natural and as I said I am getting used to it. The idea of Android P is that we go less to the drawer of apps and enhance the system of recent applications,something that with me at least they are already getting, and that multitasking in Android P has just received a very interesting boost in terms of functions .
This is multitasking
Continuing with the theme of multitasking, gesture control makes it clear that Google wants to switch between apps faster and more intuitively. As I was saying, the system change makes it a little hard to make it at first. The previews of the apps are not organized vertically but horizontally and do not overlap but appear well separated from each other. In addition, we no longer discard apps by sliding to one side, if we want to close an open app now we have to slide up. Yes, very much in the style of Apple’s proposal.
However, beyond how it has been resolved aesthetically or how we access, is what we can do within this section which makes multitasking in Android P a significant leap with respect to previous versions.
In addition to being able to see the preview of each app on the screen in which we stayed, Android P allows you to interact with the content without having to open the app. For example if we keep pressed on an image of the browser or Instagram, we can share it directly from this section.
But without a doubt the most interesting feature is that the smart text selector works within recent ones. We can select text to copy it between apps and, if it’s an email address or a phone number, open the corresponding app.
Another of the recent panel changes is the way we launch the split screen mode. On each card appears the icon of the app in question at the top. To launch two apps on the split screen you have to keep pressed on one of them and choose Split screen, then choose the second app and voilá.
Android multitasking was in need of a change and this includes very interesting news, especially the text selector. It is a somewhat disconcerting change at first, but there is no doubt that it brings advantages. For asking, it would be nice if Google included a button to close all the apps at once. Now it remains to see how they will implement these changes in models that do not have the Pixel Launcher.
App Actions, battery and adaptive brightness: the intelligence that is not noticed (at the moment)
Google stressed that Android P is a smarter version, and within this part we have several new features. One of them is App Actions, an evolution of the suggestions of applications that go beyond and, in addition to apps, it suggests concrete actions based on the use we give of the terminal.
Before Android P Beta, at the top of the app drawer we had five suggested apps based on those we used most often. Now add a new section just below where two actions will appear. Since I installed Android P this section has changed a lot, but for now I have not found it very useful .
For example, suggest me to call a contact that I have called only once, launch Assistant or write to a contact on WhatsApp. I guess that is based on what I did with the terminal just a week ago at the same time , is what happens in the case of the WhatsApp call or chat.
Being a function that is learning from our habits, it is logical that at first we have not caught the whole point, so we will have to wait to give more use to see if it really is useful. What I can say is that I think the actions are not in the best location because now the app drawer has gone into the background. Perhaps it would be better to have them in the multitasking view, where by the way we do have the apps suggestions.
The other novelties related to the idea of intelligence are the adaptive battery and brightness. Like the actions, these functions are learning how we use the terminal to make the necessary adjustments and that way we have a better experience. Obviously, in just a few hours I have not noticed any impact on the battery life nor in the brightness adjustment, so I reserve the verdict for later.
Other changes of Android P
The most notable novelties of this first beta (or second preview) are the ones we have seen above, but in the short time that I have been using it I have detected a lot of minor changes distributed throughout the system. They do not suppose a radical turn but they concentrate in perfecting some of the novelties that we saw in the first preview. Let’s see some of them.
The quick adjustments received a major facelift with Android P, betting on a more striking aesthetic with white background and circular icons in blue (black and blue with dark mode). Personally I do not like this design at all, but I will get used to it since Google has not changed it as soon as. The novelty of this section is that the pages have returned, so that we can have more toggles activated and organized in two pages.
A detail that I also expected to return and has not done is the shortcut to Settings in the compressed view. I hope he comes back in successive previews because it really is a nuisance to have to slide twice.
We continue in the upper drop-down, where the notifications are also displayed. In the first version of Android P came the automatic responses and now appear in more apps and with more options than before, although for example we still do not have them in apps like Telegram.
In the capture on the right appears another novelty, and is that now we can follow the conversation directly in the notification, while before it disappeared.
The control of volume was another of the changes of Android P and in this version it remains the same in operation, but its design has become more discreet; now the bar is thinner and does not have edges so rounded, in addition to the button to mute calls goes to the top.
The other novelty of the section of sound is that Android P opens a new shortcut to put the phone in silence. It consists of pressing both the power button and the volume up button, almost like taking a screenshot. I have not used it more than to prove it, but I do not see myself incorporating it to my usual use.
Finally, the home screen also hides a change . When we want to change the wallpaper, add widgets or configure the panel, pressing in an empty space opens a new pop-up menu that is much more discreet than the previous one that occupied the entire lower part of the screen.
In addition, in Settings of the screen we have new options like the App Actions or change the shape of the icons, an option that we did not have in the Pixel Launcher before this version.
Android P beta: there is still a way to go, but we are closer
There are still a few months left for us to get to know the final version of Android P, but the new beta has undoubtedly raised the bar of what was presented at the beginning of March, and we hope that they will continue on the same path until the final outcome in August.
Gesture control is the most ambitious change and, as I said, most impacts the use of the terminal. But even though we have changed such a basic aspect of Android as it is the navigation bar, the first contact has been very positive. The operation is intuitive and undoubtedly the new multitasking provides notable improvements such as the text selector. We’ll see if with time I still seem so intuitive or just going back to the classic bar, although a priori I would say no.
The design of some parts, especially the quick adjustments, still does not convince me to be more coarse and have lost that sobriety of previous versions, but it is an aesthetic detail that is not a problem from the point of view of use. All in all, I hope that the design acquires more coherence in the final version. And to you, what do you think about the Android P beta?