Android 9.0 (Pie): all updates and improvements

The new Android 9.0 (Pie) is available on more and more Android smartphones and Android tablets. Via a software update for existing phones or preinstalled on new models. What's New and Changed in Android Pie? And what's the use of those innovations?

Reduce your phone usage

An interesting innovation in Android Pie is Digital Wellbeing, which consists of three functions. With Dashboard, App Timer and Wind Down, Google wants to make you aware of your phone use. If you find that you look too much at your screen and too little at the world around you, Digital Wellbeing offers a number of functions to reduce your phone use.

The Dashboard shows how often and for how long you spend on your smartphone every day and which apps you use. If it turns out that you watch YouTube videos for hours every day and you want to change that, set the App Timer. With this function you can give apps a time limit so that you can use YouTube for a maximum of one hour per day, for example. After an hour you will receive a warning that the limit has been reached and you can only use the app again the next day. If you want to look further, you can stretch the limit or (temporarily) switch it off.

Wind Down is the third and final feature of Digital Wellbeing. When the feature is set up and activated, your smartphone's screen will slowly turn gray when it's time to go to sleep. Wind Down also uses a more extensive version of the do not disturb mode to mute and hide notifications.

The Digital Wellbeing features are not standard in Android Pie. Google says the features will be available later this year.

Smart Answers

The notification system of Android 9.0 (Pie) has been expanded. From now on you will see the first lines of a chat message, e-mail or other type of notification. For various apps, Google's artificial intelligence (called Smart Reply) can also suggest answers. For example, if you receive an email asking whether you can meet on Tuesday at 11:00, you will see suggested responses such as 'yes, that's good' and 'could it also be at 12:00?' build their apps.

As more and more Android smartphones appear with a notch (screen notch at the top), Google has published guidelines on how app developers can deal with the notch. What Google wants to prevent is that an app does not work properly because a part is lost due to the notch. WhatsApp suffered from this during the Pie betas: buttons to edit photos were invisible on notch phones like the OnePlus 6.

Google Maps gets more accurate

Google also provides Android Pie with support for two or more cameras at the same time. A necessary addition because more and more smartphones have two or even three cameras on the front or back. A phone with multiple cameras and Pie software can take better photos and videos thanks to tech gimmicks like API support, that's the promise.

Another innovation is support for the new 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol. This protocol is designed to determine your exact location in a (large) building such as a shopping center or airport. Apps like Google Maps can tell you where you are and the fastest way to get to your destination on Android Pie devices.

Longer battery life

Another much-requested feature is restricting apps when you're not using them. In Android Pie, apps in standby mode can no longer use your microphone or camera without you realizing it. Android blocks the app's requests, it's that simple.

One improvement we hear from Google every year is longer battery life. Also this year, the Android maker promises that the software is more energy-efficient, for the first time due to the implantation of artificial intelligence. Special software would analyze your phone usage and know after a while which apps you use little. Those apps are closed faster so that they use less power – and your battery should last longer. This Adaptive Battery feature can also be turned off in the settings.

Visual changes

Google is also giving Android Pie a more modern look. The software makes more use of the new Material Design guidelines, with rounded shapes, playful colors and more white space between settings. Pie's settings screen, for example, is colorfully designed and groups relevant settings under one category. For example, under 'Network and internet' you will find all settings that have to do with WiFi, mobile internet and a hotspot. Incidentally, manufacturers such as Huawei and HTC can adjust things like the settings screen to their own taste, making it possible that the software on your Pie phone looks and works differently.

By pressing your volume buttons, a bar appears on the screen with the sound levels of your ringtone, media and alarm. In older versions, the bar is horizontal at the top, which - especially on larger smartphones - is quite high. In Android Pie, the bar has moved to the right, about the center of the screen. It is displayed vertically, including a shortcut to easily switch between sound, vibrate and silent modes. A useful improvement, if you ask us.

Gesture control instead of buttons

The three navigation buttons (back, home and recent apps) at the bottom of the screen have disappeared in Android 9.0 (Pie). Instead, there's a horizontal bar in the middle that serves as a home button. Swiping the button up briefly opens the recent apps screen. The apps are no longer displayed as a vertical list, but – just like on the iPhone – horizontally. If you swipe up from the home button longer, you open the screen with all installed applications. A back button is not standard in Android Pie, except in apps. For example, if you watch a YouTube video, the 'normal' button is located at the bottom left and you go back to the previous YouTube screen by pressing the button.

A long-awaited feature that is finally making its debut in Android Pie is screenshot editing (screenshots). You take a screenshot by pressing the on and off button and choosing Screenshot. Once created, you can choose from three actions at the top of the screen: share, edit, and delete. The edit function lets you adjust the dimensions of the screenshot, among other things, which is useful if you only want to share a part of your screen with someone.

Android Pie on your smartphone

We cannot say whether your smartphone will receive an update from Android 8.0 (Oreo) to Android 9.0 (Pie). For this, keep an eye on the communication channels of your manufacturer or ask for it if necessary. The first smartphones, including the OnePlus 6, have already been updated to Android Pie and new models such as the Sony Xperia XZ3 run on Pie as standard. In the coming months, phones from Huawei, HTC, Samsung and more brands will also be updated to the new software.

Recent Posts