Hands-On with Android P Beta 2

Posted on June 7, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 7 Comments

As I reported yesterday, Google has released Android P Beta 2, and I’ve installed it on my Pixel 2 XL. Here’s a quick look.

Note: You may see that some blogs are referring to this release as Android P Developer Preview 3. For some reason, Google uses both names. But since they call it Beta 2 in their public announcement, I will stick with the official naming convention.

This write-up follows my previous hands-on articles for Android P, which include the Developer Preview, the first Beta, and then a separate follow-up about the new gesture navigation functionality in this release. Here, I’ll try to stick to the new stuff I’ve seen in Beta 2.

Overall, it’s not that dramatic of a change. In some ways, that’s just due to the maturity of Android in general. But part of it, I think, is the steadier pace Google is plotting in Android P specifically. That is, like Apple with iOS, Google appears to be focusing largely on fine-tuning rather than blockbuster new features.

Case in point, the first thing I actually noticed was yet another refinement of the app drawer (dock). In the Developer Preview, the app drawer was visually offset by a transparent background, but Google dropped that in the first beta. In Beta 2, the transparent background is still missing in action, but you can see it when you swipe up to display the Overview app-switching screen.

Speaking of Overview, if you scroll all the way to the left, past the big thumbnails of the most recently-used apps, you’ll find a “Clear all” link that was missing in the Beta 1 release. This does exactly what you think it does.

If you instead continue swiping up from Overview—using the new gesture navigation, that curved-edged and transparent background moves with your finger as the All Apps screen comes into view. It’s a nice visual transition.

There are no major changes in the notification shade. That said, I noticed that the date now appears in the top-left, below the time in the status bar.

The Downloads app has been renamed back to Files, its original name. Humorously, when you open it, it displays the Downloads folder by default, and thus appears to be the Downloads app.

In the wake of complaints about the Pixel 2 XL display being washed out, Google added a Colors interface to Settings, letting you choose between Natural (Google’s default), Boosted, and Saturated (what most people expect these days). In Android P Beta 2, this interface now includes a colorful sample image so that you can see the change that each setting brings.

And that’s about it, at least for me. That said, others have found many more improvements in Beta 2, including 157 new emojis, various Settings UI tweaks, Do Not Disturb notifications when an automatic rule is triggered, app closing animations, and more. Also, the Android P version number is now officially 9, as we expected.

 

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Hands-On with Android P Beta 2”

  1. dcdevito

    I find it a tad bit smoother, and since using P I've seen a decent jump in battery life. I'm looking forward to the BiometricAuthentication API

  2. khanman

    Paul, what are your thoughts about installing it on your daily driver?

  3. Tony Barrett

    Android is maturing very nicely now, so it's good to see Google aren't fixated on adding new features all the time (eg Microsoft). Cleaning up the OS, improving performance and squashing bugs are where the focus should be at this stage.


  4. IanYates82

    The thing about Android, that I like but makes it hard to review, is that I've got a lot of these little things on my s8 already. Changing colour with a nice preview image - I didn't realise that wasn't available on a pixel. Same with seeing the date when you swipe down.

    People pile on Samsung but they do a nice job refining the little things it seems.

  5. rameshthanikodi

    I'm a little concerned that Android P looks nothing like this on non-pixel phones they opened up this program to. It...looks different on different phones, even among Android One phones. Google's use of the Product Sans font throughout the UI is exclusive to the Pixel, while other phones continue to use Roboto.


    I can't help but to think that the Pixel is no longer stock android and not representative of the Android experience most will have - even when it's 'stock android' without OEM skinning.

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