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feature spotlight

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Android 9 Pie feature tracker: Everything that made it in

It's been a long journey traveling from P to Pie through the Android 9 developer previews, but Google has recently finished its newest version of Android. The platform has worked its way down Alphabet's alphabet all the way to "P," with this latest version first landing back with the March 7th release of developer preview 1. We've since learned that Android P stands for Pie, but that's only one among a long list of changes present in Android 9, and we've been keeping track of all of them. 

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[Update: DP4 makes it an on/off affair] Android P lets you disable or change the vibration strength for calls, notifications, and touch

If there is one feature I've wanted in stock Android for a long time, it's the option to disable the vibration. I hate it with all my might and can't comprehend how so many OEM versions of Android have already understood the need to have a separate vibration option whereas stock just keeps it enabled regardless. Your phone rings? It has to vibrate too. No easy silent mode either, only vibrate or DND. Ugh, it's incomprehensible. But luckily, Android P has the burgeoning of a solution.

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Android P only shows four notification icons in the status bar

There are many controversial UI decisions in the Android P developer preview, many of which appear to be geared toward phones with screen notches. One interesting quirk is a definite lack of icons up in the status bar. Android P only shows four notification icons, but Oreo shows many more.

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[Update: DP1's shaded dock is gone!] Pixel Launcher on Android P DP2 adds rotation button, app actions, and more

The new developer preview for Android P is rolling out with tweaks and new features galore. It has some goodies inside that Google showed off during the keynote, as well as some improvements to the features we saw in DP1. The new Pixel Launcher (vQ-4753642) build is a bit of both. The rotation lock button is more useful, and the new app actions are available in the app drawer.

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Android P DP2 completely hides most notifications in Do Not Disturb mode

Google has cycled through various versions of Do Not Disturb functionality going all the way back to Lollipop. It was pretty complicated back then, but DND in Oreo is straightforward—DND keeps your phone from making noise. DND in the second Android P developer preview changes Do Not Disturb mode substantially. It blocks both audio and visual distractions by hiding most notifications on your device.

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Developer Preview 2 goes back to the paginated quick settings

Google makes a lot of changes over the course of a developer preview, and sometimes those changes end up reverted before the final release. That may be the case for the quick settings, which changed a lot in DP1. No, not the overall style, which is still very different than Oreo. The layout in DP2 (above right) has, however, returned to the paginated version.

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Android P: Our 5 favorite new features so far

Today marks the 7th day that Android P's first developer preview has been available. In the time since, we've spent countless hours digging through P on our phones, decorticating every feature, and checking every tip about small and large changes alike. Our full list of P features has now surpassed 50 items and we've rounded them up with a quick description in case you don't want to spend hours reading each one (though we encourage you to). The main takeaway from P so far is the new focus on privacy and security, the addition of support for new hardware features (notches, dual cams), along with small but overdue changes that refine the Android experience.

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Android P feature spotlight: The Bluetooth icon disappears from the status bar when disconnected

With many connectivity options on our smartphones nowadays, it's easy to see how things can get very crowded on your status bar. LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC get added to the time, battery level (and percentage), alarms, and maybe DND or hotspot icons to create a super cluttered status bar. Android has been allowing us to customize this in System UI Tuner for a while, and it has also made a few choices like removing the NFC icon when it's not actively transmitting data, even when NFC is on. The same is happening for the Bluetooth icon in Android P.

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[Update: Not new] Android P feature spotlight: Bug reports can now be accessed in the Files app

Tons of interesting little morsels have been uncovered in the first developer preview of Android P, and there are probably a few more surprises waiting to be found. Bug reporting can now be added to the list of improved areas. As before, you can report a bug from the developer options settings menu or with the power button shortcut if you enable it. Now, you should be able to view reports you've made via the Files app on your Pixel phone.

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Android P feature spotlight: Adaptive brightness animates the quick settings slider as it changes

Adaptive brightness has long been a feature of Android smartphones. It uses an ambient light sensor, usually placed above the display, to measure the amount of light in the environment and change the brightness of the screen to best suit the conditions. It's often noticeable when changes occur, particularly right after you unlock your device, but now the quick settings brightness slider moves in tandem to further demonstrate this.

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