Google has been testing Android P since early this year, and it just released the final developer preview a few weeks ago. Now, the final build of Android 9 is out, and it’s called Pie. Android Pie is currently rolling out to Pixel devices, plus the Essential Phone. It brings AI-powered features, new navigation gestures, and more. However, at least one major feature isn’t ready for release just yet.
Android Pie arrives right on time, based on Google’s developer preview timeline. There were five developer previews, spaced roughly a month apart, and now the final release in August. The OTA is rolling out now to Pixel phones from 2016 and 2017, which is no surprise. What is rather surprising is that Essential managed to get a final build ready for launch day. The Essential Phone was one of the third-party preview devices, which goes to show you how proper use of Project Treble can improve updates.
Google has developed a new battery manager with AI technology. According to the developers, Android can now learn from your usage habits to determine which apps you use the most. For apps that aren’t commonly used, the phone will put them to sleep so they don’t draw as much power. However, if you only use one of those apps at particular times, Android can “pre-load” it so it’s ready to go. Messaging apps will also get AI-optimized smart replies in the notification shade.
One notable feature Google talked about back at I/O 2018 is missing from the final release. The digital wellness features are all still in beta, and won’t be included when you get the update. This suite of features includes a timer that can shut off access to an app after you’ve used it for too long and a “wind down” mode that slowly shifts your screen to monochrome when it’s time for bed. You can join a beta test for these features if you’ve got a Pixel running Android 9, but it will launch officially this fall on Pixel devices. I suspect it will start as an exclusive on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
The OTA files and system images are available direct from Google if you want to install the new OS right now. Otherwise, the OTA should reach all phones in the traditional way within several days. There’s no word yet on an update for other preview devices like the OnePlus 6, but the speed with which the Essential phone was updated should give OP6 owners some hope.