- Google Android Pie is rolling out to Pixel phones now.
- Android Pie includes new controls to help cut down on smartphone addiction.
- Android Pie also includes new gesture controls.
Google's next version of Android is officially called Android 9 Pie and it's rolling out to Pixel phones now. Android Pie was announced earlier this year and includes lots of new features. Some of the biggest ones include a focus on curbing smartphone addiction, while there's also a new gesture-based user interface. Here's a look at some of the new Android Pie features.
Google's new app dashboard will give you a bird's-eye view of how you use your Android phone. You'll see how long you've used your phone in a day and which apps you've used most. This might help you realize that you spend way too much time flipping through Instagram, for example. It also shows how many times you've unlocked your phone, how many notifications you've received and enables you to set time limits on your apps.
From the app dashboard, you will be able to tap into the apps you're using and set a time limit for daily usage. Normally, you might do this for a child who spends too much time on a game, but this change will also help you limit how long you spend on any app, whether it's YouTube, Facebook or Snapchat. You can set a timer — whether it's 15 minutes a day, half an hour or two hours, the choice is yours. After you've hit that, the app will gray out on your home screen and you won't be able to launch it.
Currently, "do not disturb" on most phones just prevents you from hearing notifications. It's good if you're in a meeting, but not great if you're sitting in bed and still looking at the screen. The new do not disturb mode takes out all visual indicators, so you won't get alerts to new messages, Snaps or emails. Maybe you'll finally use your Android phone to read a bit more. Google is also adding a feature where you can turn the phone on its face to activate do not disturb automatically. No more dinner interruptions.
Lots of smartphones now have a feature that blocks out blue light at bedtime. That's the sort of light that can keep you up at night. Google's building on that with a new "Wind Down" function that starts by eliminating blue light and then, as your preset bedtime approaches, starts to turn the screen to grayscale, which will make using apps like Instagram less tempting. Google says it hopes this will let users "remember to get to sleep at the time [they] want."
Android Pie has lots of other new features, too, including a brand-new gesture interface that's similar to the iPhone X. Instead of tapping a hardware or software home button, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to multitask or return to the main home screen.
Android Pie includes a new feature called "adaptive battery." This makes sure only the apps you need are using your battery. It should help you use your smartphone longer between charges.
Android Pie will recommend certain actions tha you might normally take inside some apps. If you usually launch Spotify and start playing a rock playlist, for example, it might offer a quick shortcut to that playlist when you plug in headphones.
Slices is part of "app actions" and is coming later this fall, Google said. Slices will let you quickly access shortcuts in Google search. If you search for Lyft, for example, you might see a quick shortcut to book a Lyft ride home. This saves you the trouble of opening Lyft and then searching for your home.
The update is hitting Pixels today and will roll out to other Android phones later this fall.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.