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How to get Android P Developer Preview 1 features on older phones

Android P goodness for older Android versions

The recurring joke about Android versions and how ‘soon’ they reach handsets has been done to death. Which reinforces the truth behind it, because the joke wouldn’t be funny if 0.3 percent of Android devices weren’t still on Gingerbread, would it? Google released the first developer preview of Android P (Pineapple? Pecan Pie? Perfectly irrelevant?) and with it, a host of features that your Android devices won’t be officially getting for a long while, if at all. Which is why we have created this guide to give older Android versions some of the most identifiable features of Android P that we know about so far.

Display Notch

A certain phone launched last year with a full-screen, edge to edge display and a notch to accommodate the front-facing sensors and speakers. Well, let’s just say that none of us was X-ceptionally surprised when Android phones started going down the same road and when Android P developer preview showed up with support for display notches. But if you want the same on your phone, all you need to do is install a particular app. We went with Notch Phone X, a relatively simple app that lets you play around with the notch width and corner rounding.

New Launcher

So the Android P developer preview is officially only available for the Pixel phones at the time of writing this article. But the good folks over at XDA have ported the Pixel launcher in the preview so that any phone can experience the changes. Head over here and download the launcher APK on to your phone. Before installing it, keep in mind that you will have to remove any previous Pixel launcher mod before installing this. This includes mods that come as a part of pre-established launchers. Another way to experience some of these features is using existing launchers like Nova, which offer you the gradient enabled Hot Seat and Lean launcher, which offers you the page changing mechanism within the hot seat. In fact, some of these features have been present even before anyone had any idea what Android P would offer.

Notifications and Settings

One of the first things you’ll notice about the developer preview is the changed notifications panel and settings screen. The grey-when-off and blue-when-on quick toggles in the notifications drop-down and the coloured icons on the settings screen can be yours without installing P. All you need is the Substratum theme engine and the Flux White theme (Rs. 95 on Play Store).

Do note that the Substratum theme engine’s current version only supports Nougat and Oreo.

Also, when you build the Flux White theme, you might encounter warnings based on the custom ROM you’ve installed previously. Ignoring those did the trick for us, but try it at your own risk.

Floating Volume slider

Android P brings greater control over your phone’s volume depending on the context with the floating volume menu and slider. You can get the same functionality by installing Android P Volume Slider – P Volume Control from the Play Store. A paid app at Rs. 20, it requires certain accessibility permissions to work properly.

You can also enable it to work with the hardware buttons, but that might not work well with all phones. In our experience, there was one bug where we tried to take a screenshot while using the floating toggle at the same time and phone went it to an endless vibration loop. With the colour toggles, feel free to customise its visuals though!

Always on with battery percentage

While the Always on screen itself is not new to Android phones, the Android P developer preview highlights one specific change to the Always on screen – the battery percentage now shows up at the bottom of the screen. While we haven’t been able to figure out a way to mirror the placement, you can get an always-on screen with the battery percentage if you install the Always On AMOLED – BETA app from Play Store.

Inside the app, you’ll need to grant it a bunch of necessary permissions. On its own, the app offers too much information on the screen, so you might want to disable ‘Notifications’ before you enable ‘Battery indicator’ under ‘Customise Watchface’ to get the desired result.

Other features

Apart from all the features listed earlier, there are a few more things that Android P has introduced. Here’s a quick and easy rundown of few other things that you can do to get closer to that Android P goodness:

  • Screenshot editor – Android P Developer Preview 1 allows you to edit your screenshots right after you’ve taken them as a new feature. If you don’t mind getting the same functionality in a slightly different package, tap on any screenshot right after you’ve taken it and send it to your photo editing app of choice using the Share button, where you can most probably edit with more tools at your disposal.
  • Smart replies – Google has integrated smart replies into the revamped notifications for Android P. But you could already use the same feature by using Google’s Reply app – which is what has been integrated into Android P. If it’s not available for your phone, get it from the APKMirror here.
  • Android P Wallpapers.
  • Android P Ringtones and tones.

If you think there’s any feature or tweak that we’ve missed out then do let us know at editor@digit.in.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.