Android 15 first developer preview tightens up software-hardware harmony


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Something to look forward to: As Apple continues to set the bar for hardware-software harmony, Google is also taking steps to tighten the integration between its Android operating system and the different hardware running on it. The first developer preview for Android 15 landed this week, providing an initial glimpse of the enhancements coming to the world's most popular mobile platform.

Let's kick things off with one of the more interesting additions – partial screen sharing. With Android 15, you'll be able to share or record just a single app window rather than your entire display. For phone users, this may not seem like a big deal since apps take up most of the screen anyway, but this could be a handy option for tablet owners. Another big benefit is that annoying notification previews will be blocked during screen sharing sessions.

Moving on, Android 15 is doubling down on photography with some camera enhancements. Low-light viewfinders will get processed to appear brighter before you snap the shot, giving a better preview. Developers are also gaining access to adjust flash intensity levels for optimal lighting in different situations.

But the real meat and potatoes revolve around under-the-hood optimizations to squeeze out better performance. The Android Dynamic Performance Framework is getting refined to help apps and games better manage thermal output, CPU/GPU usage, and overall resource allocation. There's also added malware protection to keep bad code from sneaking into app bundles.

Health tracking is another focus area in Android 15. The built-in Health Connect app acts as a hub for syncing fitness data across apps and wearables. With this release, it's expanding capabilities to track nutrition info and other health metrics from compatible services.

Then there's Privacy Sandbox – Google's initiative that aims to limit sneaky tracking techniques used by some apps – which has been updated to the latest version.

It's true that Android 15 does not have many flashy, user-facing features (yet?). But the emphasis seems to be on improving core functionality, optimizing system resources, strengthening privacy/security, and building a more cohesive health/fitness ecosystem. Not exactly riveting stuff, but important nonetheless as Android matures.

And this is just the beginning, with the initial developer preview aimed at letting app makers ensure compatibility. It's natural to expect bugs and stability issues as Google continues to refine the system over the coming months based on user feedback. More individuals will have the opportunity to experience it firsthand with beta releases expected to arrive in early spring.

For the brave souls willing to risk some hiccups in exchange for bleeding-edge access, feel free to take Android 15 for a spin starting today. But if your phone is the primary device you use for calls and texting, you may want to sit this one out until the more stable betas arrive in the second half of 2024. Google is targeting a platform stability milestone by June, with the final Android 15 dropping a few months later, potentially alongside the unveiling of the Pixel 9.

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