Android P Developer Preview 3 came out yesterday, and we’re here to break down all the changes in Google’s latest in-development Android release. After Preview 2 was deemed a beta, Google is calling this release “Beta 2.” There aren’t a ton of changes in this release, mostly a bit of polish and some bug fixes.
The latest release is currently available for Google’s Pixel phones, while beta-compatible devices from Essential, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, Vivo, and Xiaomi will be updated in the coming weeks.
Just as has been the case for every major Android release for the past few years, it seems like Android P will come with a full version number bump. After Android 8.0 Oreo last year, Preview 3 of Android P refers to the OS as “Android 9” in the settings. “Android 9” would be a bit of a change from the usual “x.0” format. Google is also declaring the Android P APIs to be final with this release, so it is giving it the official designation of “API level 28,” and Android P apps can now be uploaded to the Play Store. This build is also a bit more consumer-ready and doesn’t show as many developer warnings and error messages as previous builds (Google shut off the banned API warnings).
Now on to the new stuff…
All 157 new emoji
The biggest change in Preview 3 is the addition of 157 new emoji. These are all Google versions of the Unicode Emoji 11.0 glyphs announced earlier this year. Above we’ve dutifully documented the 77 unique glyphs, and the 16 people emoji (including two body parts) add an extra five skin tones each. Emoji 11.0 fills in some gaps all over the place: there are new smiley faces, a bunch of animals, science emojis, superheroes, and more hairstyles.
Google also made some revisions to existing emoji. There are now gender-neutral variants of the “Family” and “Couple with heart” emoji. The bacon now looks cooked, where before it was so red it could be raw. The salad emoji is now eggless and therefore vegan. There’s a totally revamped turtle, and the “cricket” emoji is brown instead of green, which gave off more of a “grasshopper” vibe.
Android P is replacing the fingerprint APi with a new “biometrics” API that will better support things like in-screen fingerprint readers and other biometrics. Presumably, as part of the whole fingerprint revamp, the enrollment process is getting a bit of a revamp too. In Preview 3, it now has a colorful fingerprint icon that lights up as you scan your finger.
The security page now uses green icons instead of blue for Google Play Protect scans, Find My Device, and Security Updates. This means there’s now a green/yellow/red motif for out-of-date or turned-off features.
The new horizontal Recent apps has a new spring-loaded animation when it opens up, and there’s now a clear-all button at the end of the list. There’s also one last tweak to the notification panel.
With Android P we’ve seen Android adopt more and more of the “Google Sans” font (formerly named “Product Sans”), the same font used to render Google’s logo. In Preview 3 the font has been updated from version 1.023 to 1.028, and besides a few tweaks to existing glyphs, there are some new glyphs that seem to be specifically for drawing the Google logo. Each letter of the Google logo gets its own glyph, including the funky slanted “e” (this does not replace the standard “e”). There is even one “letter” that is the entire Google logo, all at once. I am not sure what this will be used for, but often interfaces will use special fonts for drawing small objects instead of a bunch of bitmaps.
Play Services modules get reorganized
As we covered in the Android 8.0 review, Google Play Services is getting chopped up from a single, monolithic APK into several smaller APKs. Play Services is a huge catch-all app for system-level Google features, and with a smaller, modular layout, an app can load only a part of Play Services into memory, rather than the whole thing. For the modular version, the Play Services APK is blown up into smaller pieces each named “Dynamite” (get it?), and in Android P there have been a few changes.
In Android 8.0 the Play Services modules were named “DynamiteLoader.apk,” and “DynamiteModuleA,” B, C, and D. These generic names were hard to keep track of. If you wanted to know what module did what, you’d have to crack each one open and look around. In Android P we still have DynamiteLoader and Modules “A” and C,” but now there’s “AdsDynamite.apk” for apps that show ads, “CronetDynamite” for apps that need Chrome’s networking stack, and “MapsDynamite” for the Google Maps API.
If you’re counting, that’s one more Play Services module than we had in Android 8.0, which had modules for Ads, Maps, Google Cast, and Cornet. Like in 8.0, ModuleC is still for Google Cast, but I think ModuleA is currently empty. That would give us the same modules as 8.0, just with changed names.
Other than that, it’s just a general bug-fix release. The final version of Android P will be out some time in Q3.