Android 9 Pie – App Actions & Slices to Redefine Mobile Search

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Google has officially announced the launch of Android 9, aka Android Pie (P), on Tuesday with a bunch of exciting new features.

The excitement is toned down a little when you hear that the update, for the time being, is exclusive to Google Pixel phones. None the less, the list of features and additions to this new iteration of Android will blow your mind.

Since our focus is on, “How the new Android P update will influence the search experience”, we will talk in-depth about the features that contribute to the mobile search enhancement. Of course, we will provide you with a sneak peek into other significant additions in the latter part of this post.

So, let’s see how Google has reimagined Android P for improving the mobile search quality of users while focusing on relevancy and adapting to their usage patterns.

According to the blog post introducing the new Android Pie, Google has stressed on two new important feature additions – App Actions and Slices. These two new features have been embedded to provide users with a better experience and will have an impact on mobile search results.

App Actions:

How does App Actions personalize the search for Android Pie users?

The USP of Android P is its advanced machine learning and AI that monitors the actions of the users and personalizes their actions. This means your data gets constantly collected and the AI uses it to improve the experience in Android P.

The purpose of App Actions is to give predictive search results for users based on context and behaviour patterns. App Actions is currently enabled in the Android launcher, Smart Text Selection, the Google Search app, the Google Assistant, and the Play Store.

So, how do App Actions improve search results for the users?

Consider trying to book a movie ticket through Android P, based on the mobile device which has Atom Tickets app installed. On typing the search query, in this case the movie name Black Panther, on the Google Search app, you will get customized search prediction directly from Atom Tickets app. The user can directly click on the app and book the ticket without checking the SERP.

So, who will benefit from the AI feature of Google App Actions? Of course, in the scenario mentioned above, Atom Tickets will get the benefit, because the user has installed it in his/her Android device.

In the absence of App Actions, the user is directed to the SERP with relevant results which will most likely feature the immediate rival of Atom Tickets, Fandango.

In this case, the user’s preference to install Atom Tickets is automatically detected by Google’s AI, and the predictive search is customized accordingly.

Slices

Slices is an augmentation of App Actions. It is basically a minimised UI template of apps already installed on Android P devices. The UI template can be customized by the app developers in a way that it displays rich, dynamic, and interactive content on Google Search app and Google Assistant.

Slices will be a huge boon for app developers as users can now use their services even outside of the app directly on search. Currently, the support for Slices is built into Android Jetpack and can extend all the way back to Android 4.4, reaching approximately 95% of all Android users.

Using templates, app developers can customize their Slice with colour, text, imagery, video, and more to match their app’s design.

Imagine a scenario wherein you want to take a ride home from the office. If you have the Lyft app already installed in your Android P device, typing “Lyft” in Google search or Google Assistant will show a minimalistic design of Lyft within the full screen search with the pricing for your ride. Google will automatically detect your desired location from the data that AI collected during your previous interactions. The result will show you the pricing for your ride home and the ETA of a driver without opening the app.

Here are a few new features added to Android Pie:

If you are somebody who frequently switches between apps for different actions, Google has now come up with Smart Text Selection, which can suggest actions based on the relevance of the text selected.  Smart Text Selection works on the overview of your recently opened apps, which makes it easier for you to toggle.

A redesigned Quick Settings in Android P help you to take and edit screenshots. A simplified onscreen volume control and quick manage notification option are some of the newly added feature in the Android 9 OS.

For the first time ever, Google has introduced digital wellbeing features for Android users through Android P. The digital wellbeing features of Android P includes a new Dashboard, App Timer, Do Not Disturb and Wind Down.

Wellbeing features of Android Pie devices:

  • Dashboard helps you monitor and tweak the time you spend on the android device
  • App Timer to control your time spent on each app
  • Do Not Disturb will stop all visual interruptions that pop up on your screen
  • Wind Down will switch on Night Light and Do Not Disturb and fades the screen to grayscale before bedtime

According to Google, “Digital Wellbeing will officially launch on Pixel phones this fall, with Android One and other devices, coming later this year. “

In addition to the feature rich additions, Google has also introduced a bunch of improvements in protecting the privacy of the users such as TLS by default and DNS over TLS.

How will you get Android Pie first?

Over-the-air update of Android 9 will begin rolling out to Pixel phones starting August 7 and manufacturers like Sony, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, who participated in the beta testing and a few Android One-based devices will start receiving the updates by the end of fall.

Take my word for it, the list of feature addition will definitely have you drooling for the update, or you may even decide to ditch your current Android phone and choose Pixel instead!


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