Some days, though, you just want to tell the whole world to shut up. That’s where Android Pie’s improved Do Not Disturb mode comes in. As usual, it prevents notifications from making sounds, but now it can prevent them from appearing altogether. There’s a word for this: bliss. You should learn from my mistakes, though. I had at least one day where I didn’t respond to any emails or phone calls because I had Do Not Disturb enabled by accident. (And here I just thought it was a slow news day.)
These are some pretty hefty changes, but some of Google’s most valuable tweaks are actually quite small. The volume keys now control media volume by default, so the days of accidentally putting your phone on vibrate while waiting for a video to load are over. You can take screenshots by holding down the power button and tapping the settings button, and new tools let you mark up those shots before you save or share them. And if you’re the kind of person who prevents your phone’s screen from rotating, you can tap a new button that appears in the corner of the corner to temporarily force a switch. If nothing else, this has made my nights reading in bed infinitely less frustrating.
An AI assist
Lens, Assistant, Duplex — it’s no secret that Google believes artificial intelligence is the way forward. What’s really interesting about the way Google wove AI into Android Pie is how subtle it is. None of the features we’re about to discuss are conceptually very exciting, but there’s little question that they make day-to-day life using Pie more pleasant.
Consider the subway ride I mentioned earlier — that’s an example of what Google calls App Actions. See, Android Pie basically keeps an eye on what you’re doing and when, chews on that data for a while, and brings those actions directly into the phone’s app launcher when they seem appropriate. Emphasis on “appropriate.” In my experience, seeing an App Action pop up on my phone was actually quite rare. Google seems to have prioritized the quality and timeliness of these suggestions over quantity.
That said, it does take a while for Android to figure out what you actually want to do and when, so its first few suggestions might not make a whole lot of sense. While we were filming our video review (which you should definitely watch!), Pie suggested I listen to a Japanese band in Spotify, or, uh, call myself. Things have gotten slightly better, though, leading to pleasant surprises like the one I had on the train.