Yesterday, the day Android Pie was released, I was pushed an update to Pie on my Essential Phone. As far as I know, it was the first phone model to be pushed Android Pie, even before Google’s own phones.
For a company that looks to be struggling to survive, this is pretty commendable. Essential continues to regularly deliver software improvements and optimizations to its PH-1, which can now often be purchased for between $300 and $400. No, it didn’t turn out to be the mainstream iPhone and Galaxy foe that Andy Rubin might’ve once envisioned. A too-high price at launch and camera quality detailed this device’s potential with consumers. But if you bought the Essential Phone for the right price, news like this goes to show you didn’t make a bad choice.
…although I would say it’s better than just pretty commendable. Major Android phone brands won’t be rolling out Android P for months, if ever. And even Essential’s own blog post about the release is pretty great–it is primarily quotes from the engineers themselves and as such doesn’t have that whitewashed marketing smell.
Essential is showing that if you’re scrappy and motivated, you can get the latest dessert release on the same day Google releases it to the public. As an avid Android user, I want the latest and greatest that Android has to offer. I love that we’re doing something very few companies are willing to do.
As for Pie itself, I am impressed, for only one reason: it is noticeably faster. It is incredibly rare for a new software update or version to actually improve performance. As a software engineer myself I understand exactly why that is and am normally very sympathetic when new versions of the software I use do not perform as well as its consumers expect. It is also very difficult to make noticable performance improvements, especially when it comes to UI performance.
The rest of the changes I can appreciate but live without (it will take some time to see if the battery life improvements are legit), although I do almost always enjoy UI updates. These take a little bit longer to adjust to, but I’m almost there after a few hours.