Google has just released version 9.0 of Android, with “Pie” as this year’s customary dessert-themed nickname. Like previous Android upgrades, Pie is loaded with behind-the-scenes improvements and subtle features that make the software a little more pleasant to use without drastically changing the experience. For instance:
- It will optimize brightness based on your usage patterns and minimize battery consumption for apps you don’t open very often.
- Third-party apps can add shortcuts to specific actions; they’ll appear in the app tray, search bar, and highlighted text.
- Best of all, Android Pie will offer to permanently disable notifications if you dismiss them often enough.
The closest thing Android Pie has to a headlining feature is Digital Wellbeing, a suite of tools for monitoring and limiting your smartphone use. When it launches, you’ll be able to disable on-screen notifications, fade the screen to grayscale before bedtime, and turn app icons to gray after you’ve exceeded a time limit of your choosing. But for now, it’s only available as an opt-in beta for Pixel phones. The official launch is this fall for the Pixel, later this year for other devices. (Apple is working on similar features for iOS 12; it’ll be interesting to see how many people take these active steps to curb screen addiction.)
Android 9 Pie is rolling out now to Google’s Pixel phones and to the Essential phone. Several other phones will get the upgrade this fall, and Google says it’s “working with a number of other partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 9 this year.”