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8 reasons why you'll want Android P

A preview of Android P is now available for download, bringing with it new features and design tweaks.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Last week, Google rolled out the first publicly available preview of its latest mobile OS, Android P. It's actually the second beta release, but the initial release was reserved for developers.

The second preview release feels a lot more stable than the first, but we still don't recommend installing it on your main phone. However, if you feel brave or are willing to put up with a few bugs here and there, you can install Android P in a matter of minutes

There are a lot of new features in Android P, some of which you may think makes the latest flavor so appealing. Below are 8 reasons you'll want Android P.

Now Playing: Watch this: See Android P's new swiping controls up close

Fresh new look and notifications


The notifications shade (left) and Settings menu (right).

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With Android P, Google is using rounded corners everywhere it can. A swipe down to view the notification tray and quick settings give you a good idea of where Android is heading aesthetically. There's also a lot more color in the Settings menu.

Smart replies in notifications are coming soon.


As for notifications, Android already leads the way in its handling of notifications when compared with iOS. With Android P, it widens that gap by adding more features in its notifications shade. Messaging apps, in particular, will suggest smart replies and show more information in each notification.

You also can't expand the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth settings from the shade like you can in Oreo.

No stopping the notch

As bezels get smaller, some Android phones are adopting a notch at the top of the screen to accommodate sensors, like on the iPhone X. The Essential Phone, the Huawei P20 and the Asus ZenFone 5 all have one and the upcoming OnePlus 6 is rumored to have it, too.

Anticipating this change, Android P gives you a preview of what this might look like after you enable Developer Mode. Scroll down to the Drawing section under developer options, tap "Simulate a display with a cutout," then choose a size. Violà -- you're living the notched life.

Useful screenshot tools


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Taking a screenshot is now as simple as pressing and holding the power button, then tap Screenshot. The old method of holding the power and volume-down in at the same time still works, of course.

In addition to the new screenshot shortcut, Android P gains a new edit feature. As soon as your screenshot is saved, the preview notification will display an Edit button. Selecting Edit will open a markup tool for you to draw, crop, or highlight the screenshot before sharing it. 


Android P Dashboard

Google/Screenshot by CNET

Google's plan to curb smartphone addiction is through its Wellbeing program. While not currently available in the Android P preview, a new Dashboard section will reveal how many times a phone is unlocked in a given day, the number of notifications, and how much time is spent in each app. Users will be able to set limits and restrictions based on the Dashboard.  

Lockdown mode for extra security


You can quickly disable fingerprint unlock.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google is doing much to improve the overall security of your information in Android P, but most of that is done under the hood. There is a new feature, though, that locks down your device with the push of a button. When enabled, it lets you disable the fingerprint sensor or trusted voice unlock (reverting to your backup unlock method such as a PIN or pattern).

Go to Settings Security and Location > Lock Screen Preferences and toggle the "Show lockdown" option. After you toggle that on, you can now just press the power button, then tap Lockdown.

Gesture navigation


With Android P, you now have the option to ditch Android's traditional three-button navigation and go with gestures instead. A single home button, actually it looks more like a pill, is your thumb's home base. Tap on the button to go home, swipe right to go back, swipe left to switch between recent apps, or swipe up to view recent apps or your app drawer. Enable gesture navigation and learn about more settings in Android P in this post

Rotate only when you want


The rotation icon on the bottom right keeps the landscape orientation locked.

Lynn La/CNET

Instead of just locking down vertical or portrait mode on your phone, Android P will display a button to force the screen rotation if it detects your phone has changed orientation.

When you turn the screen to landscape, tap the icon that appears at the bottom to change the orientation. Now when you turn it back to portrait it will stay in landscape unless you tap on the same button again to rotate back. 

Battery status on the ambient display

If you have a Google Pixel, you'll now see the battery percentage at the bottom of the ambient display. This is nothing new, and that feature is already on some Samsung, Motorola, LG and OnePlus phones. Still, it's nice to have the extra info at a quick glance.

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With contribution from Lynn La.