Developers and enthusiasts have had access to a very early version of Android P for a while now, but Google has made it more easily accessible to the brave with the launch of its public Android P Beta. At this point, you can get it up and running on 11 devices, but a considerable chunk of the features Google talked up during its keynote aren't actually there yet. The broad strokes are well understood at this point, but (thankfully) we got to play with a slightly more feature-complete version of Android P inside Google's sandbox demo space. We'll continue to play with the publicly available Android P Beta so expect a deeper dive soon, but one thing is clear after playing with a more complete version: Android P is only going to get more capable in time. Smart Text Selection didn't get much of a nod during the keynote since it technically existed in Android 8.0 Oreo, but it's going to be much more useful very soon.
If you're one of the few with a car that supports Android Auto, you'll finally be able to look for a new song the next time you're stuck at a stoplight. It's the benchmark feature in the latest build of Android Auto. Previously to find a new tune in Google Play Music you had to perform a voice search, or look up a playlist or radio station. Even then, you only had access to a limited subset of your media. The browse feature only works when the vehicle is stopped as a way to help you stay focused on driving.
Along with updates to Google Assistant, Lens, Gmail and just about every app with the word Google before it, there was one unveiled at I/O that isn't about enhancing Google's ecosystem of services. Baked deeply into Android P is a set of tools Google is calling Digital Wellbeing, and it's all about balancing your digital life with your real-world one. Through a series of settings, options, and features, Google wants Android P to be the least-used version of Android, and it just might make us love our phones even more. The premier feature of the new initiative is Android Dashboard, which provides a snapshot of your daily usage, not unlike the Battery tab in Android Oreo. But instead of showing you which apps are causing your battery to drain, the screen will show you exactly how long you've used your phone each day, as well as the apps that have gobbled up the most of your time.
If apps such as Gmail and Google Pay have recently been crashing on your Android phone, you're not alone -- it appears to be a widespread issue. Numerous user reports on Downdetector indicate there are issues with Gmail, and reports on Reddit speak of Gmail "constantly crashing" since Monday. Furthermore, Google's own Workspace Status Dashboard said the company is "aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users." The issue, which appears to stem from a system app called Android System WebView, has now been fixed. It looked ugly for a moment, but it's rapidly getting better.