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Android P Developer Preview timeline: 5 releases, final version scheduled for Q3

Just earlier this hour, Google released the details and images for the new Android P developer preview, and now we know what sort of schedule to expect for future releases—assuming Google sticks to it. The current plans are to push the 2nd Developer Preview in May. Two more are planned for June with a final image expected to land in July before the ultimate Q3 release. 

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Android P feature spotlight: Fingerprint authentication UI will be more consistent, plus unencrypted HTTP will be blocked by default by apps using Network Security Configuration

As anyone who uses apps that allow for fingerprint authentication will know, the UI for each app's prompt can differ wildly. Android P will attempt to combat this by providing a new API. Additionally, Google will be blocking cleartext (unencrypted HTTP) by default for apps that use Network Security Configurations.

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Android P feature spotlight: Time is now shown on the left side of the status bar

Many things have changed in Android over the last decade, but one thing has remained the same: the clock has always been on the right of the status bar. Well, no more. In Android P, Google has moved the clock to the left side of the status bar. It's going to take some time to get used to this.

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Android P feature spotlight: Apps can measure distance to nearby WiFi access points to determine your position

Your phone can already use a combination of signals to determine where you are, including known WiFi access points. However, that's designed to give you a geographic location. In Android P, Google has added support for IEEE 802.11mc, which allows apps to measure the distance to nearby WiFi access points and determine your exact indoor location.

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Android P feature spotlight: New multi-camera API and other improvements are on board

The latest as yet unnamed flavor of Android is now circulating for your unstable curiosity, and with it come a pile of new features, including a bunch of camera additions. The new multi-camera API available in Android P is an especially exciting enhancement because of its flexibility. Although there are obvious use cases, not even Google knows what novel applications developers might find for it.

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Android P feature spotlight: Google confirms idle apps can't access microphone or camera

Last month, a series of AOSP commits revealed that the next release of Android would block apps in the background from using the camera or microphone. It's a bit surprising that this feature didn't already exist, but recent privacy concerns (like the theory about Facebook listening to users) may have pushed Google to implement it.

As expected, the feature is officially part of Android P; idle applications can no longer access the microphone, camera, or device sensors.

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Android P feature spotlight: Notifications can now have inline photos and smart replies

Google launched its new 'Reply' app last month, which adds smart replies to notifications from messaging apps. It's a neat idea, and many believed that the feature would eventually become a native part of Android. Now it seems that has come true, as there is a new notification type that developers can use in Android P.

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Android P feature spotlight: HDR VP9 video and HEIF image format now supported

HEIF, or 'High Efficiency Image File Format,' is a relatively new format that was developed by the MPEG Group in 2015. It's designed to maintain twice as much image data as a JPEG image, while keeping the file size roughly identical. Android P now includes native support for this file format, along with a decoder for HDR VP9 video.

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Android P developer preview images and OTA files are now live, but no beta program yet

Android P is making its first appearance today, and you can give it a shot right now if you've got the right hardware. The system images are now available on the Google developer site, but there aren't as many supported devices this time around. All you've got to choose from are the first and second generation Pixel phones.

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Android P feature spotlight: Google introduces support for display cutouts and notches [sigh]

If the design of the iPhone X is notcha cup of tea (sorry), a slew of incoming copy-cat designs from Android OEMs is sure to get your blood boiling. Google's opinion on this is unknown, but it knows Android devices with notches are on their way and appreciates the need to accommodate such hardware designs with its next OS version.

Android P will support screen cutouts natively, with APIs to manage how content is displayed on panels with various bites taken out of them. The system will manage status bar height so that it matches any notch, allowing app content to be separated out easily.

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