Android 9 Pie has officially arrived—here’s what you need to know

Will your phone get the latest version of Google’s mobile OS?

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Android Pie

As our devices have become more and more intertwined with the fabric of our daily lives, operating system updates have gone from tedious technical necessities to periodic events that add new features to our gadgets. Today, Google announced the official availability of Android 9 Pie, the latest version of its mobile OS with a long history of dessert-themed names.

But, Android rollouts aren’t exactly the simplest process. The software is available now in its final version, but it won’t work with every phone and not necessarily every feature you’ve heard about will be ready to rock right out of the box (or in this case, download file).

Can my phone get Android Pie right now?

Here on day one, the only phones getting the new Android 9 Pie update are Google’s own Pixels and the Essential Phone, which runs a version of Android that’s barebones compared to other manufacturers like Samsung, which add lots of non-native software before rolling out their version of the OS.

If you have a Pixel or Essential phone, you should see the update as an over-the-air download soon.

If you have a specific phone from one of the following manufacturers that participated in Google’s beta program for Android 9 Pie, then you can expect your update in the coming months. Here are the companies that participated in the beta:

  • Sony
  • Nokia
  • OnePlus
  • Oppo
  • Xiaomi

Beyond the makers we’ve already mentioned, it will depend on the manufacturer to release an official update for your specific device. Depending on which phone you’re using, that could mean waiting until 2019.

Are all the Android 9 Pie features ready to go?

We heard about a bunch of new Android Pie features back at the company’s I/O conference earlier this year. Unfortunately, many of the marquis updates aren’t quite ready for wide release just yet and will come later this year.

Here’s what you will get:

  • A new status bar at the top of the screen that leaves space in the middle for a camera notch, a feature that’s increasingly difficult to escape on modern smartphones.

  • Gesture navigation that allows you to replace the typical Home, Back, and Recent buttons with small icons that allow you to swipe around inside your device, like on the iPhone X.

  • Longer battery life thanks to Adaptive Battery which limits access to battery usage by apps you don’t use very often.

  • Tweaked notification settings, including a handy AI-driven feature that notices when you typically dismiss a specific type of notification and asks if you want to stop them from showing up in the first place.

You can get a full rundown of the new features here.

What’s missing?

The biggest missing piece of Android Pie right now involves Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiative. It was one of the biggest talking points at I/O and boasts helpful tools like a dashboard to help you track time spent on your device and in your apps. It also offers more robust Do Not Disturb features and self-imposed limits for device usage. For now, those features aren’t officially available, but if you have a Pixel phone, you can sign up to use them as part of a separate beta program. You can sign up for that here. Those without a Pixel phone can expect the official release to start rolling out in the fall.

The other missing feature is called “slices” and it allows apps to put parts of their services directly into search results on the device. The most common example is something like a ride-sharing app putting a button that requests a ride directly into search results. It spares users from actually having to open and navigate the app to get where they’re going. That’s also slated for later this year.

Is it safe to download an OS update right away or is it better to wait?

The Android P beta has been in testing for months with thousands of users, so the testing has been thorough. It’s not impossible that some unexpected issue pops up once more people start using the software, but it’s typically pretty safe to update. The initial versions of the beta had some quirks, especially when it comes to the graphic interface however, so keep an eye out once you’ve updated for anything that’s acting weird.

In general, however, moving to the latest updates on your devices is a good idea when trying to stay ahead of the most recent security issues.