Google today launched the third Android P beta with near-final system behaviors, latest bug fixes, optimizations for stability and polish, and the July 2018 security updates. If you’re a developer, this is your fourth Android P preview, and you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading the new preview from developer.android.com/preview. The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you’re already enrolled and received the Android P betas on your Pixel device, you’ll automatically get the update to Beta 3.
Google launched the first Android P developer preview in March, the second Android P developer preview at its I/O developers conference in May, and the third Android P developer preview in June. The first preview wasn’t made available via the Android Beta Program, which lets you access early Android builds via over-their-air updates, to emphasize that it’s for developers only and not intended for daily or consumer use. The betas, however, can be obtained at android.com/beta.
In addition to Google’s Pixel devices, the first Android P beta was made available on the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. As with Beta 2, Google says partners that are participating in the Android P Beta program will be updating their devices to Beta 3 “over the coming weeks.”
Android P Beta 3 also brings an update to the Android Studio build tools to include D8 as independent tool. To build with the new APIs, download the official API 28 SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.1, then update your project’s compileSdkVersion and targetSdkVersion to API 28.
Beta or developer preview, the same rules apply. This is an early look at the next version of Android, which is referred to as Android P until Google picks a name starting with that letter.
Developers are asked to play with these builds early so they can explore new features and APIs for apps, test for compatibility, and give feedback. Consumers can try out the new capabilities and functionalities too, while Google gauges how the changes are received.
The first Android P developer preview brought a slew of new functionality: built-in support for display cutouts (read: notches), a tweaked Quick Settings panel, a notification drawer with rounded corners, messages in notifications when replying inline, smart replies in notifications, a consistent UI for fingerprint authentication, and privacy enhancements to limit what apps can do in the background. The second developer preview brought adaptive battery and adaptive brightness features (courtesy of Google DeepMind), App Actions for predicting what the user will do next, and App Slices for surfacing an app’s user interface inside the Google app’s search results and inside Google Assistant. There is also a BiometricPrompt API for a system-managed dialog to prompt the user for any supported type of biometric authentication and multi-camera APIs that let you access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras.
Beta 2 finalized these features and APIs, as well as introduced 157 new emoji. For Beta 3, Google is simply telling developers they have all the system images and updated build tools they need to test apps or extend them with Android P features.
Google previously shared the following Android P preview schedule:
- March: Preview 1 (initial release, alpha)
- May: Preview 2 (incremental update, beta)
- June: Preview 3 (final APIs and official SDK, Play publishing, beta)
- June: Preview 4 (release candidate for testing)
- July: Preview 5 (release candidate for final testing)
- Q3: Final release to AOSP and ecosystem
Beta 3 (preview 4) is therefore a few days late, presumably to include this month’s security patches. We have one more preview to go before the final release in the third quarter, so bugs could still be present.
Until then, Google is encouraging developers to publish APK updates that are compiled against, or optionally targeting, API 28. If you publish an update to Google Play during the preview, your users can test compatibility on existing devices, including devices running Android P Beta 3. You can use Google Play’s beta testing feature to get early feedback from a small group of users and then do a staged rollout across alpha, beta, and production channels.
Google today also shared that the Android engineering team will host a Reddit AMA at r/androiddev on July 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific. The team will be answering technical questions about Android P.