Android 9 is finally here, at least for some users. As of today, if you have any of the following phones, you can get the latest update:
- The Google Pixel
- The Pixel XL
- The Pixel 2
- The Pixel 2 XL
- The Essential Phone
The company is currently working with other vendors to make the new update available. So if you've got an Android device other than those listed above, you should have access to the new version later this fall.
As to features, there's a lot to like. Google borrowed from Apple's playbook in at least one way by changing its navigation. It replaced its three-button navigation bar with a new gesture-based system that allows you to switch from one app to another by using natural gestures, which is a nice addition.
Additionally, the new OS makes excellent and much heavier use of machine learning and AI than any of its predecessors. Among other things, these changes subtly impact your phone's brightness and battery power prioritization, which extends the time between recharges.
The phone learns how you use it and adapts accordingly. It also adapts to environmental conditions, adjusting display brightness as those conditions change.
Another new feature called 'Slices' brings relevant segments of certain apps forward, as needed. For example, if you're searching for a ride, your phone will bring real-time pricing and driver ETAs from services like Lyft and Uber to the foreground.
There's also a new suite of features under the general heading of "Digital Wellbeing," which includes a "Do Not Disturb" mode that blocks notifications and sounds, and also grays out the screen to help eliminate unwanted intrusions.
The Digital Wellbeing dashboard also tracks and displays how much time you're spending on each of the apps on your phone and allows you to set App Timers which will help you better manage the time you're spending.
On balance, we love the robust new feature set, and we think you will too! If you have one of the devices mentioned above, you can download the update now by going to "Settings - System - System Update", and then tapping "download and install."