New Android Pie Improves CPU, Battery, 'Wellbeing'

John Lister's picture

The next edition of the Google Android operating system for phones and tablets will include measures to help users spend less time on their mobile devices. The update also makes notifications more useful and addresses battery life problems.

The changes come in a new version of the operating system that's officially called Android 9.0 but nicknamed Android Pie (or "Android P"), continuing a pattern of naming updates after food. It's already available for Google's own Pixel phones and will then start gradually rolling out to other models, though older handsets may not get the update.

It's important to note that not all phones and tablets will be able to update to the next edition of the Android operating system, as the operating system is also tied to supported hardware - which is also tied to the brand and cellphone carrier. Generally speaking, only newer generation phones made within the last 1-2 years will support Android Pie and that is only if the cellphone carrier (Spring, AT&T, etc) will support the upgrade.

Apps Can Have Time Limits

The most eye-catching new features are named "Digital Wellbeing" and "Wind Down Mode," with both attempting to counter arguments that excessive mobile device use can harm mental and even physical health.

Digital Wellbeing is a 'dashboard' that shows how long the owner has used particular apps each day, along with how many times they've unlocked the phone and the total time using the phone. It's also possible to set a time limit on particular apps.

If the owner hits that time limit for the day, the app icon will be grayed out and no longer launch the app. It will still be possible to go into menus to open the app, but the idea is to make the user think again about their activity.

Wind Down Mode can be set to switch on at a particular time, the idea being to cover the period before going to bed. The mode not only switches on the 'Do Not Disturb' feature that blocks incoming calls and notification, but also switches the display to grayscale. This is partly as a mental signal to wind down activity and partly as a physical effect: some medical experts believe the blue-tinged light from devices with color screens keep the brain alert and thus make it harder to get to sleep after using such a device.

Battery Management Gets Smarter

The battery changes are largely based around making more intelligent use of the device's resources.

One method takes advantage of how processors are split into different cores that can work on different tasks: after the update, devices will better allocate background tasks to use the cores more efficiently. Another change is the device paying attention to which apps the owner uses more or less often and putting off background tasks for the latter until the phone is recharging. (Source:

Notifications will also get an update so that rather than just showing text, they'll include a photo of the person who sent it (if available) and a small image of any attachments such as photos. The idea is to make it even quicker for users to decide if they need to open up the full message right away. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Would you use the Digital Wellbeing or Wind Down Mode features? Is it hypocritical of Google to release features designed to reduce device use? Would you appreciate more details in on-screen notifications?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I own a Samsung Galaxy Edge S6 and purchased it off eBay (practically brand new), branded by AT&T and unlocked. I use it here in Canada with my carrier Koodo and it works great. The only thing about having an unlocked phone from another carrier is that you won't receive "over the air" or "OTA" updates because the phone is married to the hardware and carrier. In order to get around this I had to manually download updates through which are specific to my exact brand and model (SMG925A), and use the Odin method to update it - which also voids my warranty.

I wish Google would make the update process easier in this respect, by providing major updates through Google Play (or similar) rather than having to wait for an OTA update. I think generalizing this approach to updating the phone would also allow older phones to update to newer operating systems, while currently the only option is to wait for the carrier to release the update using OTA.

Greg1956's picture

Thoroughly agree with you John.

My old tablet reached its limit at Android 4.4.2. Just no way to update because it relied on Samsung releasing a customised upgrade to the OS.

Why can't we just have a base upgrade that would take you from 4 to 5 to 6 etc???

I bit the bullet as it was slowing down and had a lot of unused system apps installed, I went to XDA Developers and updated it to 7.1.2. Since it blew away all my apps and data it was a little scary but I did it.

I would rather have been able to do it through Google play, after all I just wanted to update the base OS not the customised items.

Must say, that whilst Windows 10 doesn't update well for me, I like the way that it's never decided my PCs are too old for updating.