Google is working on adding native support for iris scanners to the next major iteration of its mobile operating system, as suggested by several newly emerged commits discovered in the documentation library of the Android Open Source Project. Initially spotted by XDA Developers, the commits indicate Android P may be compatible with such biometric authentication solutions out of the box, consequently facilitating the process of integrating iris scanners into new devices. While the code confirms the Alphabet-owned company is working on the technology, there are still no guarantees the solution makes its way to Android P which is expected to be launched in the form of its first developer preview in the coming weeks.
Google appears to be integrating iris scanner support into the OS through a HAL interface meant to provide a unified set of rules for communicating with such hardware. The feature should also help third-party developers looking to leverage iris identification hardware with their Android apps. Ultimately, the addition may pave the way for the popularization of new biometric solutions in the mobile industry by making the implementation of such technologies significantly easier. Google's last attempt to provide developers and original equipment manufacturers with more tools for creating alternative device unlocking mechanisms came in the form of Face Unlock support launched as part of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in late 2011 but the solution wasn't adopted by many OEMs until years later. While may contemporary smartphones and even tablets are now launching with support for some form of face unlock, iris scanners remain a rarity. Outside of Samsung's last several flagship models, such hardware isn't included in any globally available device.
Android P is also expected to feature native support for display notches and restrict access to certain APIs as an attempt to address the widespread fragmentation of the mobile ecosystem, according to recent reports. Google's engineers are said to be internally referring to the new OS build as "Pistachio Ice Cream" but it's still unclear how the software will end up being called officially. The initial version of the OS is expected to debut before this year's Google I/O developer conference scheduled to start on May 8. The software is likely to be identified by the version number 9.0 once it hits the stable channel in the second half of the year.