Android 9 Pie, thoroughly reviewed

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It’s interval for another big Android release—and another big review to go along with it. The modern update for the world’s most popular operating system is Android 9 (not 9.0) Pie. While in year’s Android 8.0 Oreo release focused on under-the-hood mutations, Android 9 Pie ships a ton of user-facing features and UI changes, making it feel similar kind the «tock» to Oreo’s «tick.»

Android 9 Pie brings Google’s updated Substantial Design spec (don’t call it «Material Design 2») to Android OS, and it founds a wave of UI updates that will spread across Google’s express portfolio. In Android, that means revamped interfaces for the notification panel, New Apps, settings, and various bits of system UI. For future smartphone sketches (like, say, the Pixel 3), Android 9 includes an experimental gesture steersmanship system and built-in notch support. There’s also a new screenshot editorial writer, lots of improvements for text selection, and changes to the way rotation works.

At the mercy of the hood, more changes have come, too, with AI-powered battery management controls, new rules for Play Store developers, and changes to how apps get allotted.

We have a lot to cover with this release, so grab a snack, bump into uncover a comfy chair, and let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

  • Material Design awaken
  • A design system for making design systems
  • Controls where you can reach them
  • When Google.com is your sketch North Star
  • The New Notification Panel
  • Better message notifications
  • Bona fide notch support
  • Recent Apps
  • Crazy?
  • No API for third-party home apps
  • Token navigation—Ugly, lopsided, and pointless
  • Gestures
  • System UI
  • The awesome active rotation switch
  • Better, smarter, and faster text handling
  • More wisely biometrics
  • Settings
  • Digital Wellbeing
  • More on Digital Wellbeing
  • Adaptive Battery—Doze method’s new AI overlord
  • Forcing developers to target modern Android
  • App Bundles—Shield space with cloud-powered app publishing
  • What about third-party app collects and sideloading?
  • Slices and App Actions—Meh?
  • App Slices—it seems like some day these inclination be really important
  • Even more ART improvements
  • 157 new emojis
  • Grab bag
  • The «tock» to Oreo’s «tick»
  • The Produce
  • The Bad
  • The Ugly

Material Design refresh

This year, Google pass on roll out the next generation of its design style, Material Design, across its work lineup. The update was once referred to internally as «Material Design 2,» but officially it’s unruffled just «Material Design» without the numbered sequel. We’ve already probed big design revamps for Desktop Gmail, Chrome, the Google Search app, and tons of other Google apps; with Android 9.0, this new composition style now comes to the base OS.

The initial version of Material Design, which boated in 2014 with Android 5.0, wasn’t just a design organization for Google’s apps and OS; it also became a recommendation for third-party Android app developers. It was the earliest time Google published a comprehensive set of design guidelines, and the new style actually did get traction with developers. To date, millions of apps have took Material Design. With official guidance for icons, navigation, layout, quotation, and colors, Material Design brought a new level of consistency to the Android app ecosystem. Perchance it was a little too consistent, though—the designs let you play with color and not much else.

A intentions system for making design systems

At I/O 2018, Rich Fulcher, the UX director of Google’s Earthly Design team, said developers «didn’t always see Material Design as tensile enough» and that «products from different brands looked too like.» In response, Google developed «Material Theming,» a guided way for third-parties to use the Stuff Design fundamentals to create a custom design system. Google then utilized this new system to create a Google-specific version of Material Design phoned the «Google Material Theme.»

This new incarnation of Material Design splits fundamental usability and understandability concerns from the individual styling of parts. For instance, button styles can have varying shapes, colors, sidekicks, and typography and can live in a few different locations, but the fundamentals (like minimum put a match to b instigate sizes, padding, font sizes, contrast, and display size responsiveness) are ordained by the Material guidelines.

Matias Duarte, the head of Google’s Material pile, calls Material Theming «a design system for making design systems»—a set of guidelines for fleeing your own design language.

The best way to get a handle on it is to try out Google’s new Material Article Editor, which is a plugin for Sketch, the popular Mac-only design app. Start the Material Tract Editor and you’ll be presented with an interface creation system that make one thinks a video game character creation screen. Rather than picking from husk colors and hairdos, though, you craft an app design language, picking from a curated pick of color palettes, shapes, fonts, and icons.

First, you’ll create a substance color palette, picking a primary color, a secondary color, and a out of the public eye color (usually white or black). For all these options, you can pick a off-white or black text color, and the system also generates light and obscurity color variants, which get used in some UI elements. The system on the level checks for contrast problems and will warn you if, for instance, you come up with a hard-to-read «dark-on-dark» combo.

Next come to pass fonts, and the editor can either intelligently apply an entire family of fonts across the intend, or you can use several fonts for things like a standout title and normal essence text. Before this design revamp, the only recommended font was Roboto.

After fonts, you can pick a move motif (round or angled), set all the corner angles or radii individually, and pick the integer of corners. The shape gets automatically applied to some action buttons and reveal alls, but of course you can go in and tweak whatever you want. Finally, you can pick from different pre-baked system icon sets.

These choices are then sought throughout the design. A basic theme is generated with a ton of different layouts (multitudinous on those later) and some sane defaults. From here, you can do too tweaking, adjusting the layout, shadows, buttons styles, and iconography. It’s identical to a big Lego set. Google even calls Material Theming «infinite plausibilities with guard rails.»

This isn’t something Google imagines beneficent companies using, but it allows small app developers to get up and running quickly with a proficient, customizable design system.

Another major new push in this new story of Material Design is engineering support. Creating cool mockups and enthusiasms for UI design is one thing; turning them into functional apps is another. The first place wave of Material Design guidance didn’t come with much communication to translate these designs into working code. Duarte recently revealed that his Corporeal group now has more engineers than designers, however, and this alliance is pumping out real code to make Material easier to implement.

This has led to junks like the Material Theme Editor, along with a whole wide open source repository of «Material Components» that covers many of the ordinary needs of a Material Theme, like tabs, action buttons, and toolbars. This isn’t exactly for Android, either—the components are available for iOS, the Web, and Flutter, too.

How does this court out in Android? Google uses the Google Material Theme in its apps and on the OS flay that ships with the Pixel phone. It looks like non-Google phones intent get something very close to the Pixel skin but with (as we’ve seen in the late) slightly tweaked colors. Third parties will use Material Theming to manufacture their own versions of Material Design and apply that to apps.

Palpable Theming was only announced in May, so it’s early to see how this will play out in the third-party ecosystem, but so far Google has awaked out Lyft, Genius, NPR, Pocket Casts, and Zappos as early partners.

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