back to article Let's kick the tyres on Google's Android P... It's not an overheating wreck, but UX is tappy

Early developer builds traditionally require donning a hazmat suit, but as Android enters its middle age, Google wants everyone to come in, wearing Bermuda shorts, and kick the tyres like tourists. In a significant change from previous years, the teaser builds of Android P are proving stable and friendly, and are available on …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    OEMs might abandroid but so does Google. Got rid of my Nexus 5 for a 6P this year and hey ho, Google drops support for the 6P. And no, I'm not wasting my money on a Pixel.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Suffering this myself, 2 different versions on my (admittedly ancient) Nexus 7 and a new Nokia 6 so keep going to the wrong place on each device.

      It's one of the more under the radar devices but I can definitely recommend the Nokia 6 (2018 version, also called the 6.1). Reasonably priced SIM free and well specced and part on the Android One program so should be supported for as long as any Android device possibly could be (think it's 2 years guaranteed but might be wrong....)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        If continuing updates are a priority for you, it's best to buy a phone that ships with Oreo (as opposed to phones offering Oreo as a Day One Update). The phones shipping with Oreo have to support Project Treble, a modular design that means updates don't have to wait for binary blobs from ODMs.

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      Don't put the 6P under CPU load or you may discover the boot loop of death.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Meh

      I just got rid of my 6P for an LG V30. I'm never buying another Google phone again. After a Nexus 5, 6P, and Nexus 9 i have to say that Google's devices have great appearance but absolute shit build quality.

      The battery on the LG is similar size but lasts at least 5 times as long. And that's after Google swapped the phone once because it kept dying at 50% (a well documented issue).

      After heavy use the 6P would usually die by 7pm each day, whereas the V30 is still at 80%.

      1. IGnatius T Foobar

        Google's devices have great appearance but absolute shit build quality

        Agreed. I had to repair the microphone in my Nexus twice, the vibrate setting stopped working, and eventually I had to make all voice calls using the speakerphone. Battery life went to crap even after I replaced the battery.

        For my latest upgrade I went back to Samsung and am much happier.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          RE: IGnatius T Foobar

          I never liked Samsung's UI or bloatware and back button location. Glad to hear you've not bought a Pixel though!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Your loss, my pixel2 is superb, iPhone beating camera, great build quality and 40% less than a high end Samsung or iPhone, with better support.

        Battery visit on 80% by the evening.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          "Your loss, my pixel2 is superb, iPhone beating camera, great build quality and 40% less than a high end Samsung or iPhone, with better support"

          Yes, but no headphone jack. It also has a blue tint on the camera lens which Google is fixing with a software update instead of a recall. Absolute shitlords at Google. And the costs are ridiculous for the shit they're now selling.

  2. James 51 Silver badge
    Coat

    Any word on lineageOS adoption of it :P

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Project Treble is supposed to make future updates a lot easier but is itself a lot of work. LOS 15.1 has been officially available for some months now and will hopefully become the stable version over the summer. It would then not surprise me to see LOS 16 based on Android P becoming available before the end of the year, as a real test of how well Treble works.

  3. Barry Rueger

    Nuff said

    That typifies a design which is very smart, but not always discoverable or usable.

    I doubt I am alone in finding that Google products in general, and Android in particular, become less user friendly and more irritating with every version.

    I am completely convinced that Android P will remove some things I need, hide settings that I want, and in general make my life less productive.

    In particular I do not need or want "notifications" from every single app on the phone, and do not appreciate being harassed endlessly by Google Assistant nagware.

    And I do not relish spending an hour or more figuring out how to turn off all of this crap.

    Android has long ago become an exercise in "way too clever" over usability. Arguably some recent improvements are closer to "hold my beer, and watch this!"

    The sad thing is that there were a few years when Google created genuinely innovative and useful products. Those days are long gone.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Nuff said

      I doubt I am alone in finding that Google products in general, and Android in particular, become less user friendly and more irritating with every version.

      Can't agree there I think that since Material Design Android has become more conistent and usable even if there are always things that I can find.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Nuff said

        I agree with Barry. Material Design has made things more consistent, true, but usability continues to degrade.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Nuff said

          I agree with Barry. Material Design has made things more consistent, true, but usability continues to degrade.

          I can't help thinking there's a certain amount "who's moved my cheese" in these statements. For years, apart from occasionally having to search within preferences, I haven't had any significant issues with Android and have appreciated some improvements and attention to detail. I'm still on Android 7 / LineageOS 14, but have LOS 15 working on a backup phone and it looks fine so far. Have to wait for the proper release for my S5 for a real opinion.

          The problems I do have are with apps with all kinds of settings all over the place and the increasing feeling that developers rarely use their own apps.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Nuff said

            "I can't help thinking there's a certain amount "who's moved my cheese" in these statements"

            I think that's a valid suspicion if we were talking about recent changes, but in this case, the cheese was moved a long time ago and everyone has gotten over any issues resulting from change resistance. Once you've grown used to a user interface and you still find it lacking, it's no longer about "who moved my cheese". It's about usability.

    2. joed

      Re: Nuff said

      Very much like Windows then. The reality of "service", questionable "design" and "experience". Customer last (when all is said and done) and money in the pocket of whoever owns the "platform". BTW, sometimes not getting updates is better than getting served.

  4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Not surprised that Samsung aren't on the list, but I would've expected HTC and Moto to make an appearance.

  5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    So the phone intends to anticipate more.. and be more helpful.. Riiiight..

    That's going to be so useful. And save even more battery.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      So the phone intends to anticipate more.. and be more helpful..

      Hey - it worked for Sirius Cybernetics! What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sooner or later it's going to advise you to "go stick your head in a pig"

  6. Randy Hudson

    UX designs are getting dumber and dumber. Why does every icon need to be a circle (first screenshot)?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Because Apple won't let them have rounded corners and Samsung (channelling/ripping off Nokia) already have squircles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just go into home settings, you can change the shsoe to whatever your OCD desires

  7. JohnFen Silver badge

    No thanks

    I seriously dislike the direction that Android is going, so have no interest in upgrading what I have now.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Shirley shome mistake?

    I thought for a while we had lost the ability to access settings via the Quick Settings panel, until I spotted it lurking at the bottom of the pulldown

    This is in Android 8 as well, isn't it?

  9. Sam Paton

    With regards to the app switching, if you move the pill up rather than left or right it’s a lot easier to see what’s open and to close things.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Tl;dr

    iOS better but gap narrowing, mainly because iOS is getting worse under Cook.

    1. bytemaniak

      Re: Tl;dr

      And because Android is getting exponentially worse.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Support

    "more than two-thirds run "pre-Brexit" code released in 2015 or before "

    Of course this is utter nonsense and posted yet again to raise a reaction. The reality is most phones over a couple of hundred quid from reputable manufacturers less than a few years old are getting getting new Android builds with the latest security patches.

    Having the latest Android MAJOR VERSION is really no big deal, and your phone is likely to run better with what it shipped with. As long as it's getting security patches, it's really not an issue. Android of course (unlike iOS) can service system apps and update core functionality via the play store. You get the latest Gmail and Text Messaging app regardless of your version of Android, but in apples world it's all baked into the OS. These servicing models are very very different and pretending they aren't is very misleading.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Support

      If this is indeed true and most reputable £200 pkus Android phones get let's say monthly automatic security patches for 3+ years then I would consider Android phones.

      Can you point me at any evidence to show this is true......... he asks expecting the answer no.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Support

        Well, I've had my S9+ (Oreo) for around 3 months now and I've had 4 updates so far. My 3 year old S6 (now relegated to being simply a remote screen for the Mavic Pro) has also received those same updates. Of course, whether these include Google security updates or are simply Samsung's way of getting more cruft on their users' phones is another question. Then again, the last time I had an update from Optus, it appeared only to change the startup greeting from "Hi There!" to "Helloooooooooooooo!" (I shit you not).

        Hell, last time I switched on my Tab2, which is older than Methuselah, the first thing that popped up was an update notification!

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "Any kind of long press invokes the Google Assistant"

    Fuck you, Google

    This is intentionally to ensure you pop it up by mistake.

    Did I say "fuck you, Google" already?

    And Kotlin is buggy crap too.

    1. luminous

      Optional

      https://fuckoffgoogle.de/

  13. Cowboy Bob

    Terrible To Develop For

    OK, I'm not an Android dev by trade but have recently found myself having to get my hands dirty on the app side of things. Christ Google, when the hell were you smoking? It's AppCompat this, OS level check that, overrides of overrides. It's a mess. Kotlin's OK with it's pseudo functional constructs, but Dagger 2, oh my God, that's a clusterfuck right there. This is my first Android project, and I prey to whoever/whatever may be looking down on me that it's my last

  14. 404 Silver badge

    Still waiting on Oreo...

    ... I imagine Verizon will get around to it - tired of looking at the 'Coming Soon in a Few Weeks' over the last few weeks... Moto Z Force smh.

  15. Daniel Bower

    And this is why...

    I have moved to Apple. I never in a million years thought I would buy an iPhone - I hate most things about Apple but the divergence in Android (both in the OS and also the shear number of differences between devices app developers now have to consider) coupled with the fact the M & N were actually worthwhile updates but with O & P it looks like they are just changing stuff so they can say they have added 'features' mean I no longer have faith in it.

    iOS is by no means stellar but I just about prefer the UX at this time.

  16. Thoguht Silver badge

    So is the whitespace compulsory or does it come in black as well? The reason for using black is not aesthetic, it's simply to save power on OLED displays.

    1. nkuk

      The whitespace is not compulsory, if you set a dark wallpaper the rest of the UI follows a dark theme.

  17. heyrick Silver badge

    All that bloody whitespace

    Not only does it suck battery life on the new generation of OLED screens, it sears a hole right into your brain when waking bleary eyed in the middle of the night. How about instead of pissing around breaking the task switcher, they try something genuinely useful like "night mode" where all the white becomes black?

    1. nkuk

      Re: All that bloody whitespace

      Android P does have a black/grey night mode.

  18. bytemaniak

    No thanks

    Android 4.4 continues to remain the best Android that Google has ever made. You know, back when they didn't dumb down the UI with every release and introduce a trillion different useless battery-hogging, CPU-eating services.

    1. EastFinchleyite

      Re: No thanks

      "Android 4.4 continues to remain the best Android that Google has ever made."

      I concur (have an upvote)

      I would really like all the security and API advances that have been made since my Moto G popped out of the box, but I really (really!) don't want all the UI changes that seem an unavoidable part of any upgrade. On that point, why is it that every time the OS is changed, the developers find it necessary to change the appearance, remove some things I want, put in stuff I don't want. ?

      Imagine if this was your car and you sent it in for its annual service. It comes back in a different colour. The CD player has been removed. Steering wheel has been moved to the other side and it won't start unless you have an online account. Finally, the space used by the fuel tank has been halved because it was needed for a box that you have no idea why it is there. Happy.?

      Me neither.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: No thanks

      I more or less agree, but prefer the task switcher on Lolipop.

      My newest tablet is an oreo.. Not played too much with it yet - still using the lollipop tablet. First reaction - omg they're making it look like a dumb iphone (though this may be a huawei addition rather than oreo)

      I hope I can make it more like Lollipop - I don't hate the new design because it looks like an Iphone - i hate the iphone because it looks like this!

  19. ScissorHands

    Gestures

    WebOS did it first, N9 did it better, can't say anything about BB10 because I never put my hands on it, but these johnny-come-latelies have latched into gestures as "the new thing" but they're retrofitting swipes into systems that have never been designed for them. They're the Nokia N97 of swiping.

  20. coolcity

    Manufacturers still don't get it and probably never will. They introduce change in order to allow them to push new features so that people will buy the latest thing. Google are a great example of this. They want people to buy the latest phone, even though 99% of it won't do anything their current phone doesn't do. So they add a few new tweaks here and their, mostly completely unnecessary that bring nothing useful to the table, but it will sell more phones because buyers want "the latest thing".

    But where it fails is because most people don't like change. It doesn't surprise me that most people are running older versions of Android, though the numbers are a lot higher than I expected. But I think most people are now fed up of spending another wad of cash only to find that very little has actually changed since they signed up for the next big thing two years or so ago.

    I discovered actually how little had changed when I left my phone at the office recently and had to pull and old HTC Hero out of the drawer. Guess what - it did almost everything my latest phone does, 9 years on. People are getting used to it now, that their old phone will do almost everything their next phone does. They don't need the latest OS.

    Not only that but with even the world's largest organisations who they have entrusted their card details to and so on only to find that some dumb exec has left that info unencrypted in a suitcase on the train, or losing it on a flash drive in the park, or falling foul to some 7 year old hacker somewhere and so on, and Google grabbing more of their information than any hacker ever has done they're not falling for the security thing any more. Most people don't care about slo-mo 4K video, dual cameras, bokeh effects or a redesigned settings page. As the beverage advert goes, "I just want a coffee..."

  21. fitzpat

    Android version proportions

    The Google stats I'm sure are accurate, for whatever measurement base they use, but my live GA stats from a popular UK Telco-provided app are quite different. Marshmallow : 7% Nougat : 39% Oreo: 46% , with the balance being roadkill v5/4/2 .

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What did the clock do wrong... ?

    My biggest concern is that someone thought it was a good idea to move the damn clock. Hopefully the placement of this will be user definable because I like mine on the right and I dare say that's where most people would expect it to be. Just another thing to change for the sake of making a change. Let it go, Google.

  23. TheGreatCabbage

    Alt-tab...?

    Are they removing the alt-tab of Android, in other words the double-tap of the app switcher button?

    It took them so long to add it in the first place, and it's one of the most important shortcuts for me.

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