Android 9 Pie Feature Focus: Adaptive Brightness

Posted on August 13, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 8 Comments

Android 9 Pie has a feature called Adaptive Brightness that’s a bit like auto-brightness on steroids. AI steroids.

“Most modern smartphones will automatically adjust the brightness [of the device] given the current lighting conditions,” Google’s Dave Burke explained during his Google I/O keynote this past May. “But it’s a one-size-fits-all. They don’t take into account your personal preferences and environment.”

Adaptive Brightness aims to prevent the all-too-common situation in which the Android user has to manually adjust the display brightness using an on-screen slider that then later makes the display look too washed out or dim as conditions change.

To do so, Adaptive Brightness uses on-device machine learning to learn how you typically set the display brightness given different ambient lighting conditions. Then, it will automatically adjust the display brightness for you as the lighting around you changes. And do so in a way that respects your device’s battery life.

What’s kind of fun about this feature is that you can watch the brightness slider move automatically as the lighting conditions around you change: To see this in action, open the notification shade fully by swiping down from the top of the display. Then, move between areas of different lighting. It’s mesmerizing, so try not to walk into anything in a dark room.

Adaptive Brightness is enabled by default in Android 9 Pie, in Settings > Display > Adaptive brightness. And as is the case with a similar and related feature called Adaptive Battery, there’s not a lot by way of configuration: You can just enable or disable it, and machine learning will do the rest.

“Adaptive Brightness is extremely effective,” Burke said. “In fact, we’re seeing almost half of our … users now make fewer manual brightness adjustments compared to any previous version of Android.”


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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Android 9 Pie Feature Focus: Adaptive Brightness”

  1. nicholas_kathrein

    I have it on. It's not perfect but I do have to adjust it less.

  2. Jaxidian

    This is very aggressive and performs pretty poorly when you first turn it on. It does get better over time but there's one major flaw in it in my experience: When I use my phones (P2XL and PH-1) in landscape mode, my finger often covers the light sensor which causes it to get insanely dark. I really wish it could somehow detect that (perhaps with the help of the proximity sensor? Some other magic?) and just leave it at the last-known configuration yet still also work (get very dim) when I'm in my mancave watching a movie with no lights on.

  3. Pierre Masse

    It's particularly effective in China.

  4. bassoprofundo

    Maybe it's something with the quality of Samsung displays or the effectiveness of their solution as-is, but I've literally never once adjusted the brightness on my last 4 devices (S7e, S8+, Note8, S9+). In hindsight, I do recall adjusting it a lot on the Nexus 6p I had before that, though...

  5. Rob_Wade

    A solution in search of a problem.

  6. Matthias Götzke

    Too bad it doesn't work though. I did not even know about this 'improvement', but ever since I installed the latest Pie release on my pixel xl 2 my screen was constantly too dark and no amount of changing it worked after a few minutes anymore. I had to manually disable it. Now at least I know why it doesn't work anymore.

  7. paradox

    My adaptive brightness keeps turning its self on and going all the way dim

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