Really need to P? Android P public beta now available for a limited number of devices

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Google’s already had a very impressive showing at their annual Google I/O event, including a jaw-dropping demonstration of AI-based natural language interactions with real human beings, but it’s the public beta of the new version of Android, Android P, which has caught our attention.

That’s right, you can try out an Android OS so fresh that it doesn’t have a full code-name (like Nougat or Oreo) yet. Android… Pancake, maybe? Poptart? Android P is just Android P at the moment but that doesn’t mean that the incoming features are half-baked.

Users will be able to explore the new A.I. deep-learning enhanced Adaptive Battery feature, which optimises battery life, and Adaptive Display, which maintains your preferred brightness based on ambient light. Hopefully, this means less going blind when absent-mindedly activating the phone screen at 2AM.

There are also Slices and Actions to look forward to, features that let you access third-party apps direct from the phone UI, as well as features designed to prevent you from using your phone to the detriment of your health. Android P will let you know just how much time you’re spending using your device (oh dear), will limit notifications to help you retain your digital sanity (yes, please) and also set your phone to greyscale so that you know it’s time to put the thing down and get some rest. It’s already after midnight, after all.

Android P is also taking some cues from the iPhone X by supporting gesture-based navigation over the more traditional (and mighty familiar) three navigation buttons — you know, for home, back, and the other one that shows you all your running apps. This is perhaps the biggest change coming to Android and we can’t wait to get to grips with it.

We’ll have our impressions of Android P once we’ve managed to spend a little time with the beta operating system. This may take a little doing, as there are a limited number of handsets supported for the beta at present.

If you’ve got your hands on Google’s Pixel devices then you can go about having your early look. Given those aren’t officially available in South Africa, it’s going to be precious few of you who can test it this way. You can also have a go if you’re toting the Xiaomi Mi Max 2S, Oppo R15 Pro, OnePlus 6, Essential PH-1, or Vivo X21 (also all quite hard to get your hands on here in SA), as well as the new Sony Xperia XZ2 and Nokia 7 Plus — both of which are definitely available here… but only as of very recently.

Should you fit the early criteria, you can get the files needed for a public preview of the P here.

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