Google Says Android Pie Is ‘Powered by AI,’ But What Does That Mean?

Google is finally rolling Android Pie out to Pixel phones after months of testing. It’ll come to other phones eventually, but some will get the update sooner than others. When you do finally get the OTA notification, you might see a proclamation at the top that says Pie is “powered by AI,” but what does that mean? Here’s where you’ll encounter the AI in Android 9 Pie.

Adaptive Battery and Brightness

Attaining good battery life on Android has been a multi-year struggle for Google. The introduction of Doze mode a few years back made a big difference, but Google’s had not ended the push for better battery life. It’s applying AI to the problem with Adaptive Battery in Android 9.

This feature is enabled by default in Pie so it can follow along as you use apps day-to-day. Apps that you don’t use will shift into a low-power state that prevents them from waking up. Apps that you use often will not experience such restrictions, but they are still subject to the standard background limits of Android. Adaptive Battery can also learn when you use certain apps. For example, if you check Instagram before bed but otherwise don’t open the app, Android can keep the app asleep all day and preload it for quick access before bedtime.

Google says Adaptive Battery reduces wakelocks (when an app keeps your phone from going into deep sleep) by 30 percent.

Adaptive Brightness uses similar learning capabilities to adjust your brightness throughout the day based on conditions. If you like your screen brightness a bit lower than the default setting, just start changing it. Over time, Android connects your preferences to ambient light levels to get you a better automatic setting.

Smart Replies

Google added Smart Reply to apps like Inbox and Messenger previously, but now any app can take advantage of these AI-assisted suggestions in Pie. Smart Reply buttons appear in notifications to offer succinct replies to your messages based on the contents. You might have options like “OK” or “On my way.” You won’t advance the conversation in a deep or meaningful way with Smart Replies, but they can save you from opening the app just to type the same mundane responses.

This feature will work for all messaging apps, not just Google’s. Developers need to add support for the Smart Replies API before you’ll see any of these buttons, though.

Suggested Actions

As your phone learns about your app usage, you may also notice that your app drawer gets smarter with suggested actions. Near the top of the drawer on Pixel and Android One phones, you’ll have a pair of actions from various apps. The suggestions are based on apps and features you access often. For example, it might show a link to a specific security camera feed in your Nest app, a conversation in Messenger, or the TV section of Plex.

If you want continued access to the suggested actions, you can long-press and drag to add it to your home screen. Not a fan? Drag it to the top of the screen and release on “Do not show again.”

Hidden Notifications

Our phones are little modification machines that keep us apprised of everything that’s happening in the world. Android Pie pays attention to what you do with all those notifications and offers to cut down on the noise.

If you often swipe notifications from a particular app away without checking it, Android can guess that you’re not interested in those notifications. It can produce an alert in place of the notification after making that determination to ask if you want to keep seeing those notifications. If not, you can tap a single button in the alert, and that app will be silenced.

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