The Android Pie era is upon us. In the months leading up to its official August release, Google showed off numerous versions of the OS' beta software, known as "Android P," with the first preview demoed in May at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California. Now, however, the final version is here, and if the previous Android 8.0 Oreo was the wallflower update that focused mostly on behind-the-scenes tweaks, then Android Pie is the brash party animal. And parts of it feel alarmingly like iOS 11 on the iPhone X.
For example, Android Pie supports a notch design as popularized by the iPhone X, and also a suite of navigational gestures that lightly anchor around a digital home button. During my time trying out the beta version of Android Pie at Google I/O, I noticed that the gesture controls weren't as difficult to pick up as some might think (more below). Android Pie also adds larger images within notifications, lets you edit screenshots after you take them and uses AI to stretch out battery life.
In fact, I like a lot of Google's changes. Android Pie is much more ambitious and much more visually progressive than the Android OS versions of past years. For some of you, Android Pie's new look and features will feel like a breath of fresh air. For others, it'll be a less intuitive entry point that could make it harder to pick up and use an Android phone for the first time.
Android phones make up roughly 85 percent of the world's phones, according to IDC, which means that Google's changes to its operating system cue a shift in what we'll see in smartphone software and design toward the end of 2018 and into 2019. But not every phone maker will implement every change, and some may add their own software touches to expand Android Pie's offerings.