Google's engineering team working on Android O did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) last year, in July, to answer queries that users had about the platform. Carrying forward the promise of returning next year, the team working on Android P conducted a similar AMA on Thursday. As part of the AMA, the engineers answered queries around topics such as system-wide dark mode, adaptive battery, battery saving, gestures, Android release cycles, and more. Here are the top 7 important things that we learnt.
Announced at Google I/O 2018 in May this year, Adaptive Battery is a feature coming to Android smartphones with the upcoming major release. It is expected to use a combination of AI and on-device machine learning to study usage patterns and prioritise battery allocation to different apps. On being asked whether there will be a way to manually reset Adaptive Battery, the Android P replied in the negative. "There isn't an option to manually reset, however it does learn on a short schedule and adapt quickly so there should never be a need to reset," said the team suggesting that the feature will detect patterns swiftly.
In Android Oreo, users observed that while some tiles in Quick Settings expanded to reveal toggles, others did not. In Android P, the ability expand tiles has been removed completely in order to maintain uniformity, the team states. "With P Quick Settings, we worked to establish consistent behavior across all tiles, to create a simple and clear experience," said Megan Potoski, Associate Product Manager, Android, in the AMA. "The model that we found worked best was: tap on a tile to toggle the setting on/off, and touch and hold on a tile to get more options. This touch and hold behavior works not only for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tiles, but also for tiles like Do Not Disturb and Battery Saver."
Battery optimisation and power saving features are usually added in by Android OEMs, with different standards. Android P will bring to the table a new Background Restrictions feature that aims to unify all of these efforts into a consistent solution. The team also states that it is in process of providing guidance to OEMs with an aim to drive consistency in the future.
Talk about a system-wide dark mode has been on since long, but Android P's Developer Preview versions are yet to see such an addition. In a reply to a Reddit user on the AMA, the Android engineering team said, "We don't have anything to announce about a unified dark mode, but again thank you for highlighting the interest in one!" turning down any expectation of seeing a dark mode in the final release.
One of the users on the AMA asked the team on why Android versions are released once a year considering the updates in the last few years haven't been "groundbreaking". The reply explained that updates that happen too frequently will act as a burden on manufacturers, who will have to test multiple times a year, and less frequent updates can risk the Android platform becoming stale and also prevent important functionality from getting out there. Thus, yearly Android OS releases are the way to go, especially considering that is the average timeline of a new device release.
Gestures were something Google introduced for Android P at its I/O 2018 event. In its current stage, gesture navigation on Android P looks a lot like that of the iPhone X. Here's what the team had to say about gesture functionality on the OS.
Thanks for the question! We evaluated many, (MANY!) options for navigation as part of this overall change to the system spaces (worth noting that our main impetus was about making All Apps/Overview more accessible from wherever you are in the system, similar to the notification shade). HOME and BACK are so central to Android navigation (both the system and the apps) - that ensuring the dependability of them via buttons with enough space led us to the current design. All that said - we really value both the aesthetic and functional appeal of a smaller nav bar / more gross-gesture navigation and are continuing to explore opportunities to bring that in.
A rather interesting interesting takeaway from the Reddit AMA was the confession that Project Treble, Android's ambitious project, is making the teams' job harder than easier. "All this pain is worth it, though," exclaims an Android engineer on the thread.