What’s amazing about Android P Developers Preview for the Android enthusiasts?
Presently, Android Oreo, the recent Android OS in a slower fashion is installed on just 1.1% of the Android devices, and before it enhances its market share, Google’s Android P preview release is another bolt from the blue for the developers. The newest version of the Android is just for the developers to start working on the P platform before it makes its public debut.
Android P Developers preview, that’s available to download is touted to bring cool features to the platform with new additions and a couple of enhancements. The latest release will be available for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL devices where the developers can download the new software or install the emulator on the computer to get started experimenting with the Android P offerings.
Also, it’s emphasized that this release serves as a baseline build for the developers and may have show-stopping bugs, so the users should not download it. Besides, the developer’s community feedback would help in evolving the platform and let further beta release get closer to the final product. Well, that’s a matter of the future releases, so instead of getting entangled in what we expect to see in the coming time, let’s dive into the list of the most prominent features of Android 9.0 to better enhance the apps.
Here we will touch the surface of the notable changes that ease and adds value to the Android app development:
Built-in support for image and video codecs
HEIF is a popular format for the images which saves storage space and network data with compression. The HEIF image encoding is added to the Android P platform that enables easy sharing, displaying and utilization of the HEIF images from the backend server. When the app gets compatible with HEIF data format, the photos can be stored in this format. Also, the images can be easily converted into HEIF format using BitmapFactory or ImageDecoder.
After providing the support for HDR VP9 Profile 2, the developers can create the apps that allow users to view HDR-enabled videos or movies from the YouTube or Play Movies on the HDR compatible devices. The media APIs refactoring and enhancement are in the process to enable easy integration of them during the development.
Improvements in the autofill framework
In Android 8.0, the autofill frameworks are introduced to make the forms filling in the Android apps easier. In Android P, the framework is enhanced along with some bug fixing to level up the user’s autofill experience.
The new APIs are included in the framework that is- Input sanitization API to avoid triggering save request during value formatting by an app, UI improvements for providing custom footer and header in the autofill save UI, dataset filtering API serves as a filter pattern that decides which datasets to show or hide, and compatibility mode enables the use of accessibility virtual structure for autofill purposes without impacting the app’s performance.
This way it helps the password managers to quickly and easily enter the password by alleviating the need of switching between the apps to copy-and-paste the password.
The fingerprint authentication technology for various apps and devices is around us for a few years. In Android P, a new FingerprintDialog API is provided to the developers to switch to the new system fingerprint dialog that’s more consistent and allows the users to touch the fingerprint sensor and manage the text and placement as needed.
Besides, all the network traffic is moved from unencrypted HTTP servers to the TLS wherein the complete cleartext traffic will be blocked and new connections have to be made over TLS.
Improved user privacy
The Android platform won’t have a good track record of maintaining the user privacy. There are some Android apps, which even in the idle state listen to the user’s data through hardware features like- microphone, camera or sensors. To ensure the apps won’t have access to the user’s information unless the users grant the permission, Android P has implemented a few restrictions.
In the latest release, the camera will be disconnected from the apps, mic report empty videos and sensors do not report events, and in case apps attempts to do so, then an error is generated. Going ahead, in near future Android P preview release, Android backup encryption with a client-side will be enabled that takes the user privacy to new heights.
Expansion in the ART’s use
We all know that ART (Android runtime) improves the app runtime performance, save storage space and speed up system updates through JIT compiler with code profiling. In Android P, to increase the app’s efficiency and performance during the runtime, ART’s execution profiles utilization is extended to reduce the memory space of compiled app code and optimize the apps.
Every time, ART is triggered to load DEX file as the users run the app, but now ART will use profile information for DEX files rewriting that in turn reduces the DEX memory usage and improve the app startup time.
Kotlin get optimized
In the last Google I/O conference, the big announcement in regards to providing the official support to the Kotlin was made. The expressive, concise and powerful language that’s highly interoperable with all the Android languages is a boon for the Android app developers.
In P, Kotlin has become better with Kotlin code performance optimization where the numerous compiler optimization that targets loops are improved. Also, in the next beta release, Kotlin’s generated code will be seen optimized, with which the developers can improve the app’s performance by keeping the plugin- Kotlin up-to-date.
The seamless indoor navigation remained a great challenge for the Google maps in the Android apps. It is resolved by providing the support for the IEEE 802.11mc WiFi protocol, that’s commonly referred to WiFi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). This feature in the P platform has opened up the myriad of the opportunities for the developers working on location-based apps such as engineering in-mall navigation, offering location-based offers and so forth is now viable.
The apps on Android P devices with hardware support and location permission are allowed to use RTT APIs which enables the apps to position the data at a distance of 1-2 meter by measuring the distance to nearby Wi-Fi access points. The devices will get connected with the access points to use RTT, and to keep the user privacy intact, only the devices are able to identify the distance from the access points, while vice-versa is not possible.
The new Android p developers preview has brought some massive changes to the world with which the developers can play to bring along the positive changes to the Android apps. This is the early version of the Google Android 9.0 and stipulating anything about it is unlikely. To get more idea about the latest release and its details, we have to wait until Google I/O 2018 conference. Till then, the developers should keep experimenting with new features and APIs in P, and provide their valuable feedback to upgrade the platform, which in turn, fulfill the Android app development needs while adding more value to it from a developer’s perspective.