Every year the Google I/O event introduces the latest Android features and shows what the future holds for Android, to the world. However, things were a little different this year. Instead of concentrating solely on 'features' of Android P, Google also focused on the humane side — the digital wellbeing of its end users.
The new Android P update is all about how one can balance the digital life and real life, and still get the most out of their Android phones.
More importantly, it's about how to get done with your work quicker so that you can get back to your family and friends (and yourself).
So, without further delay, let's have a quick roundup of the productivity boosting features of Android P.
1. Set App Restrictions with App Timer
If you've been reading about Android P, you must know about its highlight — the Dashboard app. This app lets you monitor your app usage. In this era when a majority of the population loves to stay glued to phones, it's a meaningful feature. However, there's another feature which has gone slightly unnoticed and that is App Timer.
While dashboard is more of a visual representation of the time you spent on your phone, App timer goes a notch above. It lets you set a daily time limit for each app, and once you cross the threshold, the app icon will be greyed out. You'll be able to access the app even when you have exhausted your time limit (there's still time for a full-scale AI takeover, you see!).
It lets you set a daily time limit for each app
App Timer is more of a passive reminder that you need to disengage from your phone and concentrate on the real world.
If you ask me, the first app on my phone to taste this feature will be Instagram ... what about you?
2. Seamlessly Navigate Using New Gesture Controls
Gesture-based control is the new trend in the digital world and Android is moving in the same direction. Thankfully, it has not blatantly copied its competitor (read Apple), rather it has introduced some cool new controls.
This means that the typical navigation keys have made way for a single pill-shaped home button.
An upward swipe will reveal full-screen previews of the open apps. Five of your frequently used apps will be at the bottom.
Further swiping up will open the app drawer. This way, a single gesture will fetch you your frequently-used app and open apps, not to mention the app drawer. If that's not a productivity shortcut, I don't know what is!
Apart from the above, the home button is also scrollable. All you need to do is slide the button left/right to scroll through the recent apps.
3. Seamlessly Copy Text & Share Images
The new navigation system also lets you copy text between two recently used apps, thanks to the Smart Text Selection feature. So, if you have to copy and paste text between two apps, you'd no longer have to open the source app first, copy the text and go back to the other app to paste it.
All you need to do is swipe up which will open the full-screen previews of both the apps.
Long-press on the text to copy and paste it on the other. Simple and easy!
What's more, the standard copy feature has also been overhauled. With it, you'll also be able to copy relevant texts from screenshots.
The above is a screenshot in Google Photos, yet I'm seamlessly able to capture the text from it!
4. Get More Work Done With App Actions & Slices
Another cool new productivity booster is App Actions. This feature uses machine learning to predict what action you'll take next, and based on that it'll present you with a shortcut or an action in the app drawer, thus reducing the number of taps.
App Action will normally be seen in the app drawer and it could be anything like a shortcut to your favorite contact or to one of your preferred music apps.
Slices use a slightly different concept. Instead of giving you the regular search results, slices will give you shortcuts to get your work done quickly.
So, if you're searching for Uber, it'll give you shortcuts to your frequent destinations.
Slices are not available in the second developer preview yet, since app developers need to create the shortcuts first and then only they will be displayed around the respective apps.
5. Smart Screen Rotation Hack
Android P is all about contextual suggestions and it proves the point to a T. One of the finest examples is the screen rotation switch. This new switch is available in the navigation area and will lock the screen orientation when you're watching movies or videos. Just a little tap and the job will be done.
If you ask me, this one is going to be my new BFF!
Other than that, there are a few other contextual suggestions based on your use. Say, for instance, if a call doesn't get through, you'll be asked if you want to leave a standard text message on that number.
6. Intelligent Notifications & Overview
While Android Oreo gave us the option to silence notifications individually, Android P goes a step ahead. It gives you an overall package in the form of the Manage Notification link.
This link acts as the doorway to the notification world and will let you block notifications from all the apps at once.Till now, this is my favorite feature.
Plus, Android P also has the ability to check how many notifications are sent by a particular app. If the number is way too many, you know which button to push.
7. Default Volume Rocker Controls
The volume slider has also seen cool new improvements. Not only is it much slimmer, it has also changed its default behavior. When you press the volume rockers, the phone will adjust the media volume instead of the ringer volume.
Another nifty inclusion is the toggle for vibrate and mute. All you need to do is press the volume rockers and tap on the menu to switch the modes.
8. Dedicated Screenshot Button
When the first preview of Android P was revealed, one of the most popular features was the option to edit screenshots. This feature, available in a few custom ROMs like Samsung Experience and Oxygen OS, is now available natively on Android.
This means you can let go of the third-party image editing apps if you want to make minor edits on your screenshots.
What's more, there's even a dedicated button for screenshots. All you have to do is press the Power key gently and the option for screenshots will be presented to you immediately.
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9. Autofill for Browsers
Android Oreo brought us the much-needed Autofill feature. Unfortunately, the feature only worked on apps and failed miserably when it came to browsers. That changes now. With Android P, you'll now be able to use the Autofill feature even on browsers.
Though developers of password managers will need to include this API in their apps. for now, Dashlane works seamlessly with Chrome for Android.
P for Productivity?
These were some of the unique productivity-boosting features of the Android P. Until its final release, which most likely will happen around August, we will see more updates and bug fixes.
But the question of the hour is what will Android P be called? If you ask me, I am all for peanut butter. No matter what the name, we now know what the P in the name really stands for.