Android P could outperform Apple's iOS with new AI features

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
Dave Burke, vice president of engineering, Android, speaks onstage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California on Tuesday. Source: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

When Google’s Android P rolls out this August, the operating system update will showcase the company’s major advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, with features that surpass iOS 11 in some areas.

Actions and Slices

On Tuesday during its I/O developer conference, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) highlighted a new, predictive app system called Actions and Slices. Actions go beyond simply predicting which apps you may use next — something iOS 11 already does with Siri App Suggestions — to actually serve up features and information you would specifically like to access, like say, a “start workout” shortcut for the Strava app.

Slices, meanwhile, are pieces of app content and actions that can be served up outside the actual app in your search bar, such as information about a Lyft ride, as well as the option to hail a Lyft without having to dip inside the Lyft app itself. Apple’s iOS 11 can’t ape either of these features.

It’s a significant step in the longer march towards the day when operating systems aren’t just virtual ecosystems on your smartphone with roped-off app experiences, but a unified experience where app content permeates other areas of the OS, making for a more useful user experience.

Managing your wellbeing

Android P’s new Dashboard feature gives deep, granular insights into how you’re using apps. Source: Google

As part of its effort to help manage your “Digital Well being,” Android P also introduces a new feature called Dashboard, which offers a deep dive into how you use your phone and the apps on it.

You can see how much you used Gmail on an hourly or daily basis on the weekend versus weekdays or see at a glance how many hours you’ve watched video on YouTube across different platforms like desktop and mobile.

IOS 11 doesn’t offer any of those granular insights, but it does show some basic stats under Settings including how many apps, photos, videos and songs you have stored on your desk, as well as how much space they take up on your phone.

Battery power

Other Android P features Google showed off on Tuesday look like pretty helpful additions. For battery-conscious folks — the majority of smartphone owners, no doubt — Adaptive Battery uses A.I. to keep tabs on how you use your phone and finds ways to stop quick battery drains.

One of the things it does is predict which apps you’ll use in the near future versus apps you only check once in awhile. The company said that can lead to a 30% decrease in app wake-ups and make the battery life of your phone last longer. Likewise, another feature, Adaptive Brightness, controls how bright your phone’s screen is based on your habits. If it’s day time, for instance, Google can turn down your phone screen and save on battery.

Managing battery life on iOS 11, meanwhile, is decidedly more of a manual affair. There’s an auto-brightness mode buried in the Display Accommodations section under Settings, which helps the situation, but you have to turn off Low Power Mode yourself.

To be fair, comparing Android P to iOS 11 is a little like comparing this year’s Toyota Camry to last year’s Honda Accord — the playing field isn’t 100% level. But if anything, Android P’s ambitious updates prove iOS 12 may have some catching up to do when it likely lands this fall.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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