Although Android manufacturers may customize or cripple some of the new features of Android Pie (9) in their devices, you will still enjoy a similar Android Pie experiences.
This Android Pie guide explains the top 20 new features of Android Pie (Android 9) most users will enjoy.
What is Android Pie (Android 9)?
Android Pie, aka Android P or Android 9, is the 9th major update of Android OS. It was officially released to the public on August 6, 2018.
As the successor of Android Oreo, many new features of Android Pie are expected in both of the user interface (UI) and the underhood.
Since the release of Android Icecream Sandwich (Android 4.0) in 2011, Google has released one major update of Android each year: Android Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) in 2012, Android KitKat (Android 4.4) in 2013, Android Lollipop (Android 5) in 2014, Android Marshmallow (Android 6) in 2015, Android Nougat (Android 7) in 2016 and Android Oreo (Android 8) in 2017.
On the release date, only Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL received the Android Pie (Android 9) update. Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the first phones shipped with Android Pie.
Most Android vendors started to roll out Android Pie update for their flagship phones from October 2018.
Why do you care about the new features of Android Pie (Android 9)
For most end-users, user interface (UI) is one of the most important features.
Android Pie will not disappoint you. There are tons of UI improvements. Of course, unless you are using a Google Pixel phone or an Android One phone, the manufacturers may tweak these new UI features a bit.
This page highlights the top 20 new features of Android Pie that most Android users will be happy to enjoy.
For app developers, there are also many new features of Android Pie. For example, Android Pie now supports the Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). So you can take advantage of indoor positioning in your apps.
Anyway, updating your phone to Android Pie will rejuvenate your Oreo phone, which may look boring and work slower day-by-day.
#1 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: new navigational gestures
Navigation buttons (Home, Back and Recents/Overview) have been a standard feature in Android for a long time.
In Android Pie (Android 9), you now can use gestures, instead of buttons, to navigate through your phone.
By default, the overview button is used. But you can turn on the new navigational gestures and hide the Recent/Overview button.
Once the new navigation gesture is enabled (Settings — System — Gesture —Swipe up on Home button), the round home button will change to an elongated “pill” button, and the Overview/Recents button disappears. The back button may be hidden when you are in the home screen.
Now you can use the new navigation gestures. Swiping up from the home button to access the recently closed apps. Swiping right to open the app you just closed.
Of course, there are a few other gestures and some tricks of using the new navigation gestures. Please check this guide (coming soon) on how to use the new navigational gestures in the Android Pie.
#2 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Digital Wellbeing
Digital Wellbeing probably is the most useful new features of Android Pie. Instead of tricking you to spend more time on their services, Google helps you understand how your time was used (or wasted) on the phone.
Digital Wellbeing lets you know the time you spend on phones, set up app timer to discipline yourself from using apps, and control notifications and distractions.
Currently, the Digital Wellbeing is still under beta and is only available for Pixel and Android One phones. But some components like app timer was already integrated into Android Pie.
#3 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Adaptive Battery
Battery life is the concern of almost every smartphone users today.
Android Marshmallow addressed the battery usage issue with Doze mode, which was further polished in Android Nougat and Oreo.
In Android Pie, adaptive battery feature was added to address the battery issue more smartly.
Android Pie will analyze the app usage details (e.g., time, duration, activities) and assign higher priority for frequently used apps in the background before the time when you very likely to use these apps.
For example, if you use Google News as the main source of news, Android Pie will sync the news in the background and make it ready when you very likely open the app. It will not waste your battery to sync news when you are sleeping.
#4 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Dark mode (device theme)
By default, Android UI uses a white theme (white background). Now in Android Pie, the dark mode (black theme) and automatic (wallpaper adaptive) mode are also available. Actually, the later was introduced in Android Oreo 8.1.
Please note the dark theme only applies to the quick settings menu, apps screen (app drawer) and volume slider, but not for the Settings.
Besides, some Google apps (e.g., Google News) have their own theme settings. Some Google apps (e.g., Phone, Messages, Contacts) may be controlled by the Night mode.
For third-party apps, they are always controlled inside individual apps.
#5 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Adaptive Brightness
Adaptive brightness is not new in Android.
In previous versions of Android, the adaptive brightness is “adaptive” to the ambient light.
In Android Pie, Adaptive brightness is getting smarter over time. The brightness is adaptive to your usage habits for individual apps and the ambient light.
Basically, Android Pie learns (machine learning, or AI) how you adjust brightness for the individual apps under various ambient lighting conditions, then predicts your preferred brightness when you start the app.
#6 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: App Actions
App actions is another example of using machine learning (AI) to predicts what you may want to do.
In the app drawer, on the top of all app icon (but below Google search bar and frequently used apps if enabled), Android Pie now can recommend two app actions.
For example, you exchange some messages with a contact in WhatsApp very often, an app action of chatting with this contact in WhatsApp may be suggested, and you can tap the icon to start the communication in WhatsApp.
App actions feature in Android Pie is different from normal app shortcut. It is a smart shortcut/recommendations generated by Google Assistant.
Currently, at any time, only two app actions are shown. You can dismiss them to show others.
#7 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Slices
In Android Pie, when you search something, the phone will not only return relevant apps or web search but also show some relevant app shortcuts or snippets together with the app.
Slices can work together with App Actions to make it very useful. Of course, this requires support from many third-party apps.
#8 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: App Timers and Dashboard
The app timers and dashboard are part of the application manager. But they are also shared with the Digital Wellbeing.
You can check time spent on each app in the dashboard in Settings —Apps & notifications — Advanced — Time spent on apps.
App timer allows you to set the time limit you can spend on individual apps. For example, you can set a 3o-min YouTube timer. Once you use YouTube for 30 mins, the app will be paused. You can only use it again the next day.
#9 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Wind Down
Wind Down is a very useful component in the Digital Wellbeing.
Android Pie (Android 9) can work on some routines including turn on the night light, change the screen to greyscale, turn on do not disturb (DnD) when it is time to sleep.
It works like a polite servant reminding you to put down the phone and sleep. This can be a very popular Android Pie feature after the Digital Wellbeing is rolled out to more devices.
#10 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Screenshot shortcut
Taking a screenshot on Android Pie 9 is easier now with the screenshot shortcut in power button options(aka power button menu).
You can hold the power button for about 2 seconds to call out the power button options. Among the options, you can find the screenshot button. Tap it to take the screenshot (without power button options).
The old method of holding the power button and the volume down button simultaneously is still working. But many new users have difficulties to hold the two buttons “simultaneously”, and therefore they may end up with the power button option or volume adjustment. This new feature in Android Pie (Android 9) will surely help these users take screenshot easily.
In Android Pie, there is also a third method of taking screenshots: using the assistant menu.
Please refer to this guide (coming soon) on how to take screenshots on Android Pie (Android 9).
#11 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Multi-camera and external camera support
Multi-camera and external camera support is one of the most welcomed new features of Android Pie (Android 9) for developers.
Most Android phones have at least 2 cameras (front and rear). Some have 2 or more rear cameras. But the access to multiple cameras concurrently is usually limited to manufacturers’ apps.
The new multi-camera API lets developers gather image data (or even the raw data) from two or more cameras simultaneously to fully utilize the cameras. As an end user, at least, you have the option of using multiple cameras to get better or desired photos.
#12 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: smart replies
Smart replies actually is a feature of the Android Messages app. Google tested it in Android 8 on selected phones. Although smart replies are claimed as one of the new features of Android Pie (Android 9), it works on both Android Oreo and Android Pie.
In Android Pie, in addition to using the smart replies in the Messages app, you can use smart replies in the notification panel without opening the Messages app.
#13 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Manage Notifications
Some notifications in smartphones are extremely useful. Some are very annoying. A few may be just spams. So, it is not easy to manage notifications automatically.
Android Pie now has an enhanced and smarter notification management system in place.
You can now have a quick way to turn off notifications from a range of apps. Besides, if you swipe away certain notifications a few times, you’ll get a smart prompt whether you want to keep receiving them.
#14 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Text Magnifier
When you select text on the smartphone screen, sometimes, it is hard to select to the desired range due to the big size difference between your finger and the characters on the screen.
The magnifier widget in Android Pie lets users precisely position the cursor or the text selection handles by viewing zoomed text through a draggable pane.
The result is an easier text selection.
#15 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Media volume controls
When you press volume up (or down) button, in previous Android, you will get the ringer volume settings as a horizontal bar. You can expand it to set media volume and alarms.
Now, in Android Pie, you will get the media volume settings as a vertical bar next to the volume button. You can tap the settings icon to access other volume settings.
Some users may need time to adapt to this change.
#16 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Overview Selection
You can select text or image directly in the Overview screen (without re-opening the app) in Android Pie.
Overview selection, which is part of the revamped overview screen/mode in Android Pie, lets you do multi-tasks easily.
In the overview mode, you can long-press to select text or image and see actions based on what you’ve selected. The actions are NOT limited to copy or share.
For example, if you select a phone number, the call action will be available. If you select an address, Map action will be available.
You may refer to this guide (coming soon) on how to use overview selection in Android Pie.
#17 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Lockdown Mode
As a security feature, you can temporally disable the smart lock, fingerprint unlocking, face unlocking, and notifications on the lock screen.
You can add the lockdown button in the power button options (power menu) in Settings — Security & location — Lock screen preferences — Show lockdown option.
Now, you can hold the power button for about 1-2 seconds to get the power button menu. In the power button menu, tap lockdown button to lock down the phone. The phone will exit the lockdown mode once you unlock it with the PIN/password.
#18 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Accessibility Menu
The Accessibility Menu introduced in Android Pie (Android 9) is a large on-screen menu to control your phone. You can control gestures, hardware buttons, navigation, screenshot, and a few other features.
#19 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Multitasking
Android Pie (Android 9) expands multitasking capabilities with the revamped overview mode.
In Android Pie, the overview screen uses single previews that are placed next to one another horizontally.
So, it is easy to:
- Use overview selection. You can select text or images in the overview screen without re-opening the app.
- Launch the app in a split-screen view. You can hold the app icon on the top to see the options for this app, including the split-screen view.
- Switch to the most recent app. If you enabled the new navigation gestures, you could scroll through previously open apps without entering the overview screen.
#20 of the top 20 new features of Android Pie: Auto-rotate button
Android Pie adds an auto-rotate button that appears in the navigation bar when your phone is rotated to the landscape orientation, and auto-rotate is turned off.
It sounds trivial. But it is extrmely useful for many phone users.
Do you have any questions regarding the new features of Android Pie (Android 9)?
If you have any questions regarding the new features of Android Pie (Android 9), or if you want to share your thoughts on the new features of Android Pie (Android 9), please let us know in the comment box below.
For questions on Android Pie (Android 9), please check Android Pie guides page.
For questions on Android Oreo (Android 8.0 and 8.1), please check Android Oreo guides page.
For questions on Android Nougat (Android 7.0 and 7.1), please check Android Nougat guides page.
For questions on Android Marshmallow (Android 6.0), please check Android Marshmallow guide page.
For questions on Android Lollipop (Android 5.0 and 5.1), please check Android Lollipop guide page.
For other Android questions or problems, please check Android 101 page.
Please note, this is an owner-help-owner community. If you need official technical support or have warranty/sales related questions, please contact the vendor directly.