Essential becomes first non-Google handset for day-one Android Pie update

The Essential Phone PH-1 has become the first non-Google phone to receive the Android Pie OS in a bittersweet twist for a handset maker with an uncertain future.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury

In a piece of good news for the troubled manufacturer, Essential has announced its PH-1 phone has become the first non-Google phone to receive the latest Android operating system on the day of release.

Though this is a welcome development for the Android OS in general, Essential's own future is uncertain. While the company says that its PH-1 phone will continue to receive updates such as Pie for at least two years the CEO said in May that he is considering selling the company.

Officially released yesterday on Google's own Pixel phones, Android Pie brings with it a new interface, including a now-popular dark mode, and accommodations for  phones  with a camera "notch" such as the  Essential phone .

Essential says the early update to Pie was made possible by Google's Project Treble -- a program which began with Oreo and is designed to enable quicker updates by compartmentalising the software for both chipset makers and wireless carriers.

Meanwhile, one of Apple's favorite slides at its iOS announcements is the adoption rate for the latest OS of Android and Apple, with Apple typically way in front. At WWDC 2018, for example, Apple's SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi Federighi said half of its customers were running iOS 11 seven weeks after its launch while Google Android's latest Oreo update had only a 6 percent distribution.

Representatives for Essential did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.