The long-awaited Android 9.0 is finally here, and as we saw earlier this week, and a handful of phones already have the update available to them. The Essential PH-1, is the first non-Google branded phone to receive the update, but you’ll also find it’s available on the Google Pixel and Google Pixel 2 phones as well. Android 9 Pie is the biggest Android update we’ve seen in years, with wide-sweeping changes both on the user interface front, as well as in the animations and various other sub-systems too.
The most obvious change right away is the Overview, or Recents screen, which looks completely different in every way. Thumbnails of recently opened apps now appear nearly full-screen, displaying the entire thumbnail at once, and scrolling in a horizontal fashion instead of vertically. This, combined with the new “gesture-based” navigation bar, means some seriously big changes in store for Android users who have been accustomed to a certain way of navigation for years. Google seems to slowly be phasing the home screen out of existence, as evidenced by the ability to call up the app drawer from anywhere with a quick swipe up on the nav bar.
In addition to these big navigation changes, Google has introduced some big changes to how apps are managed in the background, and how usage information is delivered as well. Digital Wellbeing is a new program that Google hopes will help users get a better hold on their smartphone usage and curb apps that have become addicting or are taking up too much of your time. It’s more granular information than we’ve ever seen, and it’s providing ways for users to both take better advantage of their phones and of their time. A set of AI-powered features also makes up a big set of changes and additions, including a new Adaptive Battery sub-system that uses AI to determine which apps are being used the least and pause them in the background. This, combined with Digital Wellbeing’s ability to pause apps that are being used for too long, actually help improve battery life the more the phone is used, which is a big change from what many are used to. Check it all out in action below and find out if this truly is the sweetest update yet, or if it should have been in the oven a bit longer.