Android 9 Pie is now beginning its phased rollout to the HMD-built Nokia 7.1, bringing the latest Android features such as App Actions, Slices, and a new navigation interface to handsets in the US and elsewhere. The AI-driven Adaptive Battery feature is one of the most prominent included in the update, allowing the system to prioritize battery life for the user's most important frequently accessed apps. Android Pie's Adaptive Brightness tool that actively learns from the user's interactions with a handset's display settings is part of the package as well. App Actions and Slices similarly learn from user interaction but more specifically for the app’s themselves. The first of those features learns users’ most common interactions with an app and when those occur. Then the system shows those actions at the top of the app drawer at the appropriate time of day. Slices performs a similar task but brings actions for apps forward to other places such as Google Search.
There are plenty of changes to the UI with the Android 9 Pie update too. The standard on-screen navigation will be replaced with a single pill-shaped multipurpose icon. That's swiped, tapped, or held to navigate recently opened applications, return to the home menu, or access other features such as Google Assistant. Finally, the update enables users to download users to download digital wellbeing apps from the Google Play Store including Dashboard, App Timers, Wind Down and the new Do Not Disturb apps. Dashboard provides in-depth information about screen-on time and phone usage while App Timers allows the user to set their own limits for app use. Wind Down and Do Not Disturb perform a similar function by letting the user set a schedule to slow down their usage and stopping notifications. The latter adds fine-tunable controls for what can and can’t get through and kills even the notification LED for incoming alerts where those aren’t desirable. Wind Down fades the screen to a grayscale mode to discourage use.
Background: The Nokia 7.1 was announced back on October 4 and has been one of the first and fastest handsets to receive the update to Android 9 Pie. As to the device itself, that's a $349 smartphone with a very high-end design and features to match, with the price predominantly held down by its dependence on a Snapdragon 636 SoC on the inside. That provides ample power to run most apps and games without a hiccup but won’t excel at the latest or most intensive titles. Backing that up is 3GB of RAM or 4GB of memory in the US and 32GB of storage that’s expandable via microSD card by up to 400GB. Its notched 5.84-inch display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and not only supports HDR10 content at a ratio of 19:9 and resolution of 2280 x 1080. The software can also scale SD content to HDR. For cameras, the Nokia 7.1 utilizes a Zeiss-built 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel dual sensor array at the back and a fixed-focus 8-megapixel selfie shooter at the front. Powering all of that is a 3,060 mAh capacity battery that charges via USB Type-C 2.0.
Impact: Nokia’s update to this device follows another earlier update for the Nokia 6.1 in the US and both the Nokia 7 and Nokia 6.1 Plus elsewhere in the world. The speed of that update’s arrival, for this particular device, can be chalked up to its inclusion in the Android One program. That program also means that Nokia has promised to deliver Android 10 ‘Q’ by early 2020 and three full year’s worth of monthly security updates. That level of commitment has become rare among Android manufacturers outside of Google and one or two others, giving the Nokia 7.1 yet another area where it stands above a not-insignificant number of competitors.