Android Tips

Our 5 favorite new features so far


Today marks the 7th day that Android P’s first developer preview has been available. In the time since, we’ve spent countless hours digging through P on our phones, decorticating every feature, and checking every tip about small and large changes alike. Our full list of P features has now surpassed 50 items and we’ve rounded them up with a quick description in case you don’t want to spend hours reading each one (though we encourage you to). The main takeaway from P so far is the new focus on privacy and security, the addition of support for new hardware features (notches, dual cams), along with small but overdue changes that refine the Android experience.

But there are always changes that are more welcome than others so we’ve taken a look at the list of Android P features and decided on a list of 5 items that are so far our favorites.

Locking the rotation to landscape

Android P is adding a neat 4th icon in the navigation bar to let you momentarily lock your display’s rotation to landscape. When the display rotation is locked (i.e. auto-rotate is toggled off), if you flip your phone sideways, you’ll see this 4th icon. Tapping it rotates the display to landscape and keeps it as such. Flip your phone back up and you’ll see it again, this time to go back to a portrait-locked display.

Prior to P, the display would stay in portrait regardless, so the only way you could see your photos or maps in landscape, for example, was to enable auto-rotate then remember to toggle it off when you were done. This change is tiny, but it’s certainly one we’ve fallen in love with.

Volume buttons change media volume by default

We’ve asked for it, we’ve prayed for it, we’ve begged for it, and now it’s real. Android P makes media volume the default when clicking the volume buttons. I’ll use myself as an example: I change my phone’s ringer volume, oh, about never, but the media volume is frequently adjusted depending on my surroundings. Making it the default option is a feature I’ve seen on Samsung’s phones before, but never on stock Android. Now it is.

The great thing here is that you can finally easily control the volume before playing a video, so you no longer have an excuse when you blast the sound around you then rush to turn it down.

left: Media and Ring, because Messages was open. rightMedia and Call, because a phone call was ongoing.

Inline photos and smart replies in messaging notifications

Android P is making messaging notifications even better than Nougat and Oreo. Not only will you be able to send a direct reply (which was added in Nougat), you’ll also have smart suggested answers similar to Google’s secret Reply app, for faster and more efficient replies. Messaging notifications can show more of the conversation too, including displaying inline photos so you don’t have to open a chat to see what that “image” notification is.

Lockdown mode

Android P brought a small unexpected feature: Lockdown mode. It momentarily disables your fingerprint sensor and the smart unlock features, so that no one can force you to unlock your device with your fingers, face, voice, or other biometrics. It’s a minor change, but it can prove helpful in a few scenarios when your data privacy is at risk.

Idle apps can’t access microphone, camera, or sensors

And last but not least is Android P’s new limit on idle apps, prohibiting them from accessing the microphone, camera, or sensors. It makes a lot of sense, from a privacy perspective, that an app you’re not actively using can’t access data when it’s not supposed to and without your knowledge.

Beside these 5 main features in Android P, some of the ones we like are the new Markup screenshot editor, the Autofill API improvements, battery level being shown in the ambient display, the multi-cam API for third-party camera apps, the disappearance of the retina-searing orange in battery saver, and the vertically scrolling Quick Settings. What are your favorite features?



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