Please and thank you, Google ❤️
With each new year that comes, we get a heap of new hardware from the likes of Samsung, LG, OnePlus, Google, and more. However, as exciting as this hardware is, something that I personally get more enthusiastic about is the release of brand-new Android versions.
Last year’s Android Oreo may not have been the most visually different upgrade compared to 2016’s Nougat, but even so, the additions of picture-in-picture, Google’s Autofill API, adaptive app icons, etc. make it the most mature and well-polished version of the software to-date.
2019 will see the release of Android P, and while some of you may think it’s too early to speculate about what we’ll see in the next big Android release, it’ll be here before you know it. A report from February 12 shed some light on features we can expect in the update, and in just three short months, we’ll get our very first look at Android P during Google’s annual I/O developer conference.
As such, these are the features/changes I’m hoping to see the most in Android’s latest and greatest.
A refreshed user interface
Although there have been little tweaks here and there over the years, Android’s looked more-or-less the same since the Lollipop update in 2014. This is when Google introduced the world to Material Design, and its design language has easily been my favorite one Android’s ever had. With that said, coming up on four years of the same general aesthetic does leave me yearning for something new and different.
Android is due for a visual update, not a complete overhaul.
Thankfully, it looks like we may get something along these lines. The Chromium Gerrit has been spotted with references to something called "Material Design 2" – suggesting that Google is working on a successor of sorts to the Material Design we know and love today. Not much is known about Material Design 2 just yet, but there are references to tweaked colors, new icons, and better readability of some items.
If Google’s wants to spruce up Android’s look, this is the way to do it. A complete overhaul would just cause more unneeded fragmentation, but adding new elements and visuals to the same general design principles would allow Android P to look fresh without causing developers to completely redo the look and feel of their apps.
A more powerful Google Assistant
We’ve seen a lot of updates to the Google Assistant since its debut on the 2016 Pixel and Pixel XL, and as much as I love using it on a daily basis, there are some features I’d like to see added with Android P.
The Google Assistant excels when it comes to asking random questions and controlling smart home gadgets, but performing in-app functions is a very different story. You can do simple things like asking the Assistant to open YouTube and search for a video, but that’s about it.
As much hate as it gets, Samsung’s Bixby currently has an edge over Google Assistant in these regards. When I briefly used the Galaxy S8 late last year, I loved being able to use my voice to tell Bixby to open Samsung Health and add a cup of water to my daily intake tracker. This direct tie-in with applications is one of Bixby’s greatest strengths, and it’s something I’d like to see added to Google Assistant.
Tighter integrations with Chrome OS
On a similar note, I’d also like Google to use Android P as a way to get serious about better-connecting Android and Chrome OS. I tried using an iPhone 7 for a few months last year, and while Android will always be my preferred mobile operating system of choice, Apple is killing it when it comes to the relationship between iOS and macOS.
Google needs to give Android users a reason to use Chrome OS, and vice versa.
Things like AirDrop, Universal Clipboard, and a desktop iMessage app that also syncs with your SMS conversations give iPhone owners a reason to buy and stay with MacBooks and iMacs for their computing needs, and this is something Google needs to follow through with, too.
We saw something called "SMS Connect" in October with Android 8.1 suggesting that Google was working on a way for Android users to natively receive and reply to SMS messages on a Chromebook. This was a pleasant surprise, but it never came to fruition with 8.1’s public release.
Along with this, Google already offers some benefits to Pixel 2 and Pixelbook owners, such as being able to unlock with the Pixelbook by using the fingerprint sensor on your phone and allowing the Pixelbook to automatically tether to a Pixel 2 when it detects there are no available Wi-Fi networks.
It’s evident that Google wants Android and Chrome OS to better communicate with one another, and while these little touches here and there have been encouraging to see, I really hope this is something Google gets serious about with Android P. Apple gives consumers a reason to own an iPhone and iMac – it’s time Google does the same with the Pixel and Pixelbook.
More user customizations out of the box
My last point is something of a pipe dream, but I decided to put it in here because — why not?
Android is often said to be superior to iOS due to the greater user customization options that are available, but I’d like to see these expanded even more with Android P. Android Oreo introduced Adaptive Icons and gave users the ability to change their shape, and the Pixel 2 allowed for elements like the notification tray, folders, and app drawer to change between a light and dark theme based on which wallpaper you currently have.
These are things I love messing with, and it’d make me happy to see Google expand on them even more. Allow third-party icon pack support for the default launcher, make the auto-changing themes a standard across Android and not limited to just the Pixel line, and give users some control over the color of the UI like OnePlus does with its own OxygenOS.
There haven’t been any reports or rumors hinting that this is something Google’s working on, but hey – a guy can dream, right?
What are you looking forward to?
Those are the things I’m hoping to see the most in Android P, but what about you? What are the top features or upgrades you’d like to see in the next version of Android? Sound off in the comments below!
February 19, 2018 at 04:05AM