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Android Pie is full of new features

Android 9.0 Pie has been out for months on Pixel phones. And in that time, we've been using the latest flavor of Android to find all of its best features.

If you don't have a Pixel phone, here's when your phone is getting Google's latest OS.

If you do have a Pixel, here's how to install Android Pie right now.

Originally published May 18.
Update, Nov 29: Added details on Android Pie.

Published:Caption:Photo:Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android Pie Adaptive Battery

In the never-ending pursuit of better battery life, Android Pie's Adaptive Battery feature will learn the apps you use over time and prioritize system resources to them. As for the apps you hardly ever use? Well, Android Pie will basically ignore them until you actually open them. 

In the end, this saves on battery and makes everyone happy. Enable or disable Adaptive Battery in Settings > Battery > Adaptive Battery.

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New settings look, once again

In its marathon attempt to get the Android Settings menu just right, Google has once again redesigned it. It's now more colorful, for starters. 

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A new screenshot tool

A fancy new screenshot tool provides the option to edit or delete a screenshot immediately after taking it. Tap either option on the notification that displays after you capture your screen. Easy peasy.

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Images in message previews

Notifications will soon have the ability to show you images in the notification preview, instead of just text. The new feature will require developers to add the option, so you may want to start bugging your favorite developers to add compatibility.

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Gesture navigation

Navigation gestures are now a thing on Android Pie. See that pill-shaped button at the bottom of the screen? That replaces the three buttons that previously were used on Android. 

The feature is optional, and off by default. You can enable it by going to Settings > GesturesSwipe up on Home Screen and toggling the switch.

Of course, different phone makers will have different interpretations of how gestures should work on Android Pie.

For example, Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are all-in on gestures and lack an option to disable them. Samsung, on the other hand, has a unique approach to gestures in its One UI beta. 

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New material design

Android Pie has a new look overall. Slightly rounded corners on notifications and the quick settings pane are continued throughout the interface. It's a modern material design, if you will.

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Text selection magnification

An underrated iOS feature I'm glad Google finally got around to copying is a text-selecting magnification box. Meaning, when you begin to move the cursor around within a block of text, you no longer have to guess its exact location. 

Instead, Android Pie adds a magnification box just above the cursor. Yeah, buddy!

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Quick rotation control

There's nothing more annoying than when your phone's screen rotates when you don't want it to. 

A new quick rotation toggle shows up in the top-right corner of the screen when moved to landscape orientation. Tap it to let the screen rotate, and then select it once again when you're ready to go back to portrait mode.

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Media controls take priority

Prior to Android Pie, when you were listening to music and wanted to adjust the volume of only the music, there wasn't a simple way of doing so. You could use the volume buttons, but that would adjust the system volume setting for your phone.

After installing Android Pie, the volume keys will default to controlling media volume.

Also, notice the new look of the volume controls? Neat, eh? 

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Split-view is still possible

To view two apps at the same time, you first need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to view multitasking mode. Tap on the app icon at the top of the app's preview card, then select Split-Screen. 

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Instead of a vertical stack of app previews, Android Pie switches to single previews that are placed next to one another horizontally.

Using the gesture pill along the bottom of the screen, you can scroll through previously open apps or swipe up on an app preview to force-close the app. 

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App actions

 App actions will suggest tasks you commonly carry out within an app, or as they are needed. For example, in this screenshot are two buttons just below the top row of app suggestions. 

One button suggests I use Google Photos to clear up space on my device, while the other gives me the option to open Slack and quickly switch between teams.

Android will automatically, and without any interaction on your part, provide suggestions based on your use habits. If something shows up that you don't like, just long press on it to remove it.

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Notch support

Display notches are all the rage this year, and Google isn't one to get left behind. Android Pie adds official support for screen cutouts for those hardware makers that decide it's the only way to move forward with device designs.

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