Google’s latest iteration of Android has been released as a developer preview for a while now. As of now, it’s being called Android P. We don’t have a name for P yet (my bet is on peppermint though). Many devices got this beta firmware available to them.
This is the first time Google cooked up a plan such as this. It’s a part of “Project Treble” that includes companies like Sony, One Plus, and Motorola. Previously, it was only for the nexuses and pixels. So, what makes “Project Treble” an exciting prospect for these franchises?
Well, this time around Google and the franchises involved are finally doing things right. Android has always suffered the lack of support for latest firmware on wide range of devices because of implementation, different SoCs and other issues. This is a massive stride forward for android and Google towards the right direction.
Where Does Sony Fit into the Puzzle?
Speaking of improvement, Sony has certainly learned their lessons. The infamous makers of Xperia phones have also released beta 2 for Android P within a week of Google’s official release.
Let’s face it, Sony has never been good with software updates. If you’re an Xperia enthusiast like me, you’d already know. Before this initiative took shape, users like us had to wait for months just to get a security patch. Let’s not get into newer versions of the updates.
Even if they released a new version, it was way too buggy and under optimized (oh!! the agony). Believe it or not, I left my Xperia phone just because how slow it was slow with updates. But, now there seems to glimpse of hope left (brace yourself, cool stuff is coming to Xperia devices).
Why is Sony right to tag along with Google to bring developer preview for Xperia phones?
In this era of phones with thin bezels and notches, Sony is kinda lagging behind with theirs having top and bottom chins. It’s not like they have used the extra space at the top and bottom properly either.
Most of their flagship phones don’t have a front-facing stereo speaker or use facial recognition tech like Apple. Seems like they are not ready to accept the change. As MKBHD said multiple times –
“2018 is the year of thin bezels and notches”
Meanwhile, Sony is yet to release a phone with little to no bezels. So, how can they thrive in this tough market without shiny design and cool biometrics? The answer to that is SOFTWARE. With Sony partnering with Google and releasing new software updates, I believe they can still regain their former glory.
If you can’t embrace the change, you better come up with a better solution. I guess what Sony is trying to prove is that you can still compete in this market with great build quality and software update.
New features of the latest developer preview on Xperia XZ2
I’ve been running the Android P beta 2 on my XZ2 for about a week now. I must say, the guys at Sony have shown remarkable improvements when it comes to tuning the OS. It’s still a bit buggy Sure. But that’s to be expected with a Beta version. So, what’s new with the hyped OS?
This is probably the most exciting aspect of Android P for me. Now we can use iPhone like gestures on Sony Xperia X2 (keep in mind this was also available in the earlier test version). New gesture-based control has the following functionalities that I noticed-
- Vertical swipe takes us to the app switcher.
- We can drag the home bar to switch between apps.
- Quick horizontal swipes switch between two most recent apps.
- Longer vertical swipe from any app to get to the app drawer.
Redesigned notification tray:
Sony has redesigned the notification tray to have more of a rounded look to it. The icon colors have also been changed. This update gives a more rounded look to the entire notification tray. This does give it a modern essence to the product. Many people like it, others don’t. I personally do.
Slight Changes in volume slider:
The Android community has been begging for this for years now. Finally, it’s here. FINALLY!! (In Dwayne Johnson’s voice). With this, we can be more precise as far as volume adjustment is concerned. The volume slider has also been moved to the right of the screen for better-onehanded use. It’s now a vertical bar rather than a horizontal one.
Settings app improvements:
Settings app has more colorful icons now and things are better organized now. Different options are now available. Things make better sense now.
Surprisingly enough, this beta OS does run smoothly on my phone. The previous version was a bit jagged. Seems like there has been some “Under the Hood” improvements as well. Kudos to Sony and Google.
Copy and paste text between apps in the app switcher:
You can now copy and paste text right from the app switcher. Just give a long press on the section you wish to copy and a context menu will appear with copy/paste option. This saves us a ton of click/tap and time. I’m pretty sure Google plans to improve certain aspects of this features.
The sad part is, I’m pretty sure it’ll be exclusive to Pixel phones. As of now anyway.
Other small improvements and features at a glance:
- Application shortcuts have been improved.
- Pure vanilla android (I do miss the Sony apps and features though).
- Camera shutter speed is a little faster than Oreo.
Bugs that I Found
As this is a developer preview, bugs are to be expected. The following are the few issues I faced during my daily usage:
- You can’t turn off the gesture-based control.
- You can’t install the pixel launcher.
- No Google now tab.
- Camera app is kinda broken.
- exFAT format not recognized.
- Nightlight is behaving weirdly.
- Mic stops working randomly.
- Wi-Fi tethering might cause your device to behave weirdly.
Should you install it?
Well if XZ2 is your only daily driver, then don’t. There are lots of bugs as mentioned above. Also, if you love the Sony exclusive features like 960fps video recording and their apps (which I proudly consider as bloatware) this is not for you.
On the contrary, if XZ2 is your testing device and you’d like to have a go with Android P, then go ahead. Testing new software is really fun. Just keep in mind that thing might crash randomly. This is a developer preview after all. We can’t hate them for that, right? Surely, they will fix things with new patches and updates.
What are your thoughts? Do you like beta testing yourselves? Have you already installed the beta firmware? Are you excited about project treble? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.