Android 9 Release Notes

This page summarizes the major features in the Android 9 release, and provides links to additional information. These feature summaries are organized according to the feature's documentation location on this site. See the August 2018 Site Updates for a guide to section moves and renaming.

Build

Generic system image (GSI)

A generic system image (GSI) is a system image with adjusted configurations for Android devices. Generic System Image (GSI) includes details on differences between GSIs for devices launching with Android 9 and devices upgrading to Android 9.

Architecture

Hardware abstraction layer (HAL)

HIDL framework backwards compatibility

HIDL framework backward compatibility verification is a method for verifying the backward compatibility of the framework.

Dynamically available HALs

Dynamically available HALs support the dynamic shutdown of Android hardware subsystems when they're not in use or not needed.

HIDL

HIDL MemoryBlock

HIDL MemoryBlock is an abstract layer built on hidl_memory, HIDL @1.0::IAllocator, and HIDL @1.0::IMapper. It's designed for HIDL services that have multiple memory blocks sharing a single memory heap.

Device tree overlays

Compressed overlays

Android 9 and higher includes support for compressed overlays in the device tree blob overlay (DTBO) image when using version 1 of the device tree table header.

DTO updates

Android 9 and higher requires that the bootloader pass the unified device tree blob to the kernel prior to modifying the properties defined in the device tree overlays (DTOs).

DTBO image header versioning

Android 9 and higher includes a version field in the DTBO image header.

DTBO verification

Android 9 and higher requires a DTBO partition. To add nodes or make changes to the properties in the SoC DT, the bootloader must dynamically overlay a device-specific DT over the SoC DT. For more information see Compiling & Verifying.

Kernel compliance

Android 9 and higher includes requirements that affect the kernel, its interfaces, and the use of DTBOs. For more information, see these pages:

Vendor NDK

Design changes

For information about VNDK design changes in Android 9 and higher, see these pages:

ABI checker

The ABI Stability page describes the application binary interface (ABI) checker, which ensures that changes made to VNDK libraries maintain ABI compliance.

VNDK snapshots

A system image can use VNDK snapshots to provide the correct VNDK libraries to vendor images even when system and vendor images are built from different versions of Android.

Vendor interface object (VINTF object)

The following pages in the Vendor Interface Object section describe updates in Android 9 and higher:

HIDL deprecation schedule

The following pages describe how Android deprecates and removes HIDL HALs:

Bootloader

Product partitions

Android 9 and higher supports building /product partitions using the Android build system. Previously, Android 8.x enforced the separation of system-on-chip (SoC)-specific components from the /system partition to the /vendor partition without dedicating space for OEM-specific components built from the Android build system.

Canonical boot reason compliance

The Canonical Boot Reason page describes changes to the bootloader boot reason specification in Android 9 and higher.

System as Root

All devices launching with Android 9 and higher must use system-as-root, which merges ramdisk.img into system.img (also known as no-ramdisk), which in turn is mounted as rootfs.

Boot image header versioning

In Android 9 and higher, the boot image header contains a field to indicate the header version. The bootloader must check this version field and parse the header accordingly.

DTBO in recovery

To prevent OTA failures due to mismatches between the recovery image and the DTBO partition on non-A/B devices, the recovery image must contain information from the DTBO image.

Display

Display cutouts

Display cutouts allow app developers to create immersive, edge-to-edge experiences while still allowing space for important sensors on the front of devices.

Rotate suggestions

Updates to screen rotation behavior Android 9 and higher include support for a user-facing control to pin screen rotation to either landscape or portrait even if the device position changes.

Synchronized app transitions

Synchronized app transitions allow for new app transition animations.

Text classification (formerly TEXTCLASSIFIER)

Android 9 and higher includes a Text Classifier service, which is the recommended way to implement text classification, and a default service implementation.

Wide-gamut color

Android 9 and higher includes support for wide-gamut color, including:

  • High dynamic range (HDR)
  • Processing content in the BT2020 color space, but not as an end-target dataspace

To use wide-gamut color, a device’s full display stack (such as screen, hardware composer, GPU) must support wide-gamut colors or buffer formats. Devices aren't required to claim support for wide-gamut content even if the hardware supports it. However, wide-gamut color should be enabled to take full advantage of the hardware. To avoid an inconsistent visual experience, wide-gamut color shouldn't be turned off during runtime.

Compatibility

Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD)

The Android 9 Compatibility Definition Document iterates upon previous versions with updates for new features and changes to requirements for previously released functionality.

Settings

Better app widgets

The Android app widget framework offers increased visibility into user interactions, specifically when a user deletes or manually adds widgets. This functionality comes by default with Launcher3.

Manufacturers need to update their launcher apps (which are shipped with devices) to support this feature if not based upon Launcher3. OEMs need to support the new widgetFeatures field in their default launcher.

Note that the feature only works end to end when the launchers implement it as expected. AOSP includes a sample implementation. See the AOSP Change-Id Iccd6f965fa3d61992244a365efc242122292c0ca for the sample code provided.

Device state change notifications to package installers

A protected system broadcast can be sent to apps that hold the INSTALL_PACKAGES permission whenever there's a change to properties like locale or display density. Receivers can be registered in the manifest, and a process awakens to receive the broadcast. This is useful for package installers that wish to install additional components of apps upon such changes, which is uncommon, because the configuration changes eligible to trigger this broadcast are rare.

Device state change notification source code is located at the following locations under platform/frameworks/base:

  • api/system-current.txt
  • core/java/android/content/Intent.java
  • core/res/AndroidManifest.xml
  • services/core/java/com/android/server/am/ActivityManagerService.java

Information architecture

Changes to the information architecture for the Settings app provide more functionality and easier implementation.

Tests

Atest

The Atest command line tool allows you to build, install, and run Android tests locally, greatly speeding test re-runs without requiring knowledge of Trade Federation test harness command line options.

Compatibility Test Suite (CTS)

CTS downloads

CTS packages supporting Android 9 are available on the CTS Downloads page. The source code for the included tests can be synced with the android-cts-9.0_r1 tag in the open-source tree.

CTS options

For Android 9, CTS v2 gains the following command and argument:

  • run retry retries all tests that failed or weren't executed from the previous sessions.
  • ‘--shard-count shards a CTS run into given number of independent chunks, to run on multiple devices in parallel.

In addition, the previously undocumented command --retry-type has been added to the same CTS v2 console command reference.

Secure Element (SE) service

The Secure Element service checks for global platform-supported secure elements by identifying whether devices have an SE HAL implementation and if so, how many. This is used as the basis to test the API and the underlying secure element implementation.

Sensor fusion box

The sensor fusion box is used in the Camera Image Test Suite (Camera ITS) sensor fusion test and multi-camera sync test and provides a consistent test environment for measuring the timestamp accuracy of the camera and other sensors for Android phones. See these pages for more information:

Wide field of view ITS-in-a-box

The wide field of view ITS-in-a-box is an automated system designed to test both wide field of view (WFoV) and regular field of view (RFoV) camera systems in the Camera ITS.

Vendor Test Suite (VTS)

Host controller architecture

The VTS host controller architecture is the architecture of VTS test framework integrated with its cloud-based test-serving service.

Service name-aware HAL testing

VTS service name-aware HAL testing supports getting the service name of a given HAL instance based on the device on which VTS tests are running.

HAL testability check

VTS HAL testability check includes a runtime method for using the device configuration to identify which VTS tests should be skipped for that device target.

Automated testing infrastructure

The automated testing infrastructure is a VTS infrastructure for automated testing of VTS, CTS, or other tests on partner devices running the AOSP generic system image (GSI).

Debugging

Advanced telemetry

In Android, telemetry is the process of automatically collecting use and diagnostics information about the device, the Android system, and apps. In previous versions of Android, the telemetry stack was limited and didn't capture the information needed to identify and resolve system reliability and device or app issues. This made identifying root causes of issues difficult, if not impossible.

Android 9 includes the statsd telemetry feature, which solves this deficiency by collecting better data faster. statsd collects app usage, battery and process statistics, and crashes. The data is analyzed and used to improve products, hardware, and services.

For more details, see frameworks/base/cmds/statsd/.

Security features

Application signing

The v3 APK signature scheme supports APK key rotation.

Biometric support

Android 9 includes the public class BiometricPrompt, which apps can use to integrate biometric authentication support in a device- and modality-agnostic fashion. For more information about integrating your biometrics stack to include BiometricPrompt, see Biometrics.

Dynamic analysis

Android 9 includes support for more exploit mitigation and analysis tools.

Control flow integrity (CFI)

Control flow integrity (CFI) is a security mechanism that prohibits changes to the original control flow graph of a compiled binary, making it significantly harder to perform such attacks.

Kernel CFI

In addition to system CFI, which is enabled by default, Android 9 and higher includes support for kernel control flow integrity (CFI).

Encryption

File-based encryption (FBE)

File-based encryption (FBE) is updated to work with adoptable storage. New devices should use file-based encryption instead of full-disk encryption.

Metadata encryption

Android 9 and higher includes support for metadata encryption where hardware support is present. With metadata encryption, a single key present at boot time uses file-based-encryption to encrypt any unenctypted content.

Keystore

Android 9 and higher includes Keymaster 4, which has these features.

StrongBox

Android 9 and higher includes support for Android Keystore keys that are stored and used in a physically separate CPU purpose-built for high-security applications, such as an embedded secure element (SE). StrongBox Keymaster is an implementation of the Keymaster HAL in discrete secure hardware. A StrongBox has:

  • Discrete CPU
  • Integral secure storage
  • High-quality true random number generator
  • Tamper-resistant packaging
  • Side-channel resistance

Secure key import

To securely import a key into Keymaster 4, a key created off-device is encrypted with a specification of the authorizations that define how the key may be used.

3DES support

Keymaster 4 includes 3DES for compatibility with legacy systems that use 3DES.

Version binding

To support Treble's modular structure and break the binding of system.img to boot.img, Keymaster 4 changed the key version binding model to have separate patch levels for each partition. This allows each partition to be updated independently while still providing rollback protection.

Android Protected Confirmation API

Supported devices that launch with Android 9 installed give developers the ability to use the Android Protected Confirmation API. With this API, apps can use an instance of ConfirmationPrompt to display a prompt to the user, asking them to approve a short statement. This statement allows an app to reaffirm that the user wants to complete a sensitive transaction, such as making a payment.

SELinux

Per-app SELinux sandbox

The application sandbox has new protections and test cases to ensure that all non-privileged apps tageting Android 9 and higher run individual SELinux sandboxes.

Treble SELinux changes

Updates to Treble SELinux in Android 9 and higher are documented in several pages in the SELinux section.

Vendor init

Vendor init closes the hole in the Treble system/vendor split by using a separate SELinux domain to run /vendor commands with vendor-specific permissions.

System properties

Android 9 restricts system properties from being shared between system and vendor partitions unnecessarily and provides a method for ensuring consistency between shared system properties.

SELinux attribute tests

Android 9 includes new build-time tests that ensure all files in specific locations have the appropriate attributes. For example, all files in sysfs have the required sysfs_type attribute.

Audio

High-resolution audio effects

Updates to high-resolution audio effects include converting effect processing from int16 to float format and increases in simultaneous client output tracks, maximum client/server memory, and total mixed tracks.

Camera

External USB cameras

Android 9 and higher supports using plug-and-play USB cameras (that is, webcams) using the standard Android Camera2 API and the camera HIDL interface.

Motion tracking

Camera devices can advertise motion tracking capability.

Multi-camera support

Multi-camera cupport includes API support for multi-camera devices via a new logical camera device composed of two or more physical camera devices pointing in the same direction.

Session parameters

Implementing session parameters can reduce delays by enabling camera clients to actively configure a subset of costly request parameters as part of the capture session initialization phase.

Single producer, multiple consumer buffer

Single producer, multiple consumer camera buffer transport is a set of methods that allows camera clients to add and remove output surfaces dynamically while the capture session is active and camera streaming is ongoing.

Connectivity

Calling and messaging

Implementing data plans

Android 9 and higher provides improved support for carriers implementing data plans using the SubcriptionPlan APIs.

Third-party calling apps

Android 9 and higher provides APIs that allow third-party (3P) calling apps to handle concurrent incoming carrier calls and to have calls logged in the system call log.

Carrier

Carrier identification

In Android 9, AOSP adds a carrier ID database to help with carrier identification. The database minimizes duplicate logic and fragmented app experiences by providing a common way to identify carriers.

eSIM

Embedded SIM (eSIM or eUICC) is the latest technology to allow mobile users to download a carrier profile and activate a carrier's service without having a physical SIM card. In Android 9 and higher, the Android framework provides standard APIs for accessing eSIM and managing subscription profiles on eSIM. For more information, see:

Multi-SIM support for IMS settings

Android 9 and higher provides improvements to the user settings for IP multimedia subsystem (IMS). You can set up voiceover LTE (VoLTE), video calling, and Wi-Fi calling on a per-subscription basis instead of sharing these settings across all subscriptions.

SIM state broadcasts

In Android 9 and higher, Intent.ACTION_SIM_STATE_CHANGED is deprecated, and two separate broadcasts for card state and card application state are added, TelephonyManager.ACTION_SIM_CARD_STATE_CHANGED and TelephonyManager.ACTION_SIM_APPLICATION_STATE_CHANGED.

With these changes, receivers that only need to know whether a card is present don't have to listen to application state changes, and receivers that only need to know whether card applications are ready don't have to listen to changes in card state.

The two new broadcasts are @SystemApis and aren't sticky. Only receivers with the READ_PRIVILEGED_PHONE_STATE permission can receive the broadcasts.

The intents aren't rebroadcast when you unlock the device. Receivers that depend on broadcasts sent before you unlock must either use directBootAware, or they must query the state after user unlock. The states can be queried using the corresponding APIs in TelephonyManager, getSimCardState() andgetSimApplicationState().

Wi-Fi

Carrier Wi-Fi

The carrier Wi-Fi feature allows devices to automatically connect to carrier-implemented Wi-Fi networks. In areas of high congestion or with minimal cell coverage such as a stadium or an underground train station, carrier Wi-Fi helps improve connectivity and offloads traffic.

MAC randomization

MAC randomization lets devices use random MAC addresses when probing for new networks while not currently associated with a network. In Android 9 and higher, a developer option can be enabled to cause a device to use a randomized MAC address when connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

Turn on Wi-Fi automatically

When the Turn on Wi-Fi automatically feature is enabled, Wi-Fi is automatically re-enabled whenever the device is near a saved Wi-Fi network with a sufficiently high relative received signal strength indicator (RSSI).

Wi-Fi round trip time (RTT)

Wi-Fi round trip time (RTT) allows devices to measure the distance to other supporting devices, whether they are access points (APs) or Wi-Fi Aware peers (if Wi-Fi Aware is supported on the device). This feature is built on the IEEE 802.11mc protocol, and enables apps to use enhanced location accuracy and awareness.

Wi-Fi scoring improvements

Improved Wi-Fi scoring models quickly and accurately determine when a device should exit a connected Wi-Fi network or enter a new Wi-Fi network. These models provide a reliable and seamless experience for users by avoiding gaps in connectivity.

Review and tune the RSSI values in the config.xml resources, especially the following:

  • config_wifi_framework_wifi_score_bad_rssi_threshold_5GHz
  • config_wifi_framework_wifi_score_entry_rssi_threshold_5GHz
  • config_wifi_framework_wifi_score_bad_rssi_threshold_24GHz
  • config_wifi_framework_wifi_score_entry_rssi_threshold_24GHz

Wi-Fi STA/AP concurrency

Wi-Fi STA/AP concurrency is the ability for devices to operate in station (STA) and access point (AP) modes concurrently. For devices supporting dual band simultaneous (DBS) Wi-Fi, this opens up capabilities such as not disrupting STA Wi-Fi when a user wants to enable a hotspot (SoftAP).

WiFiStateMachine improvements

WifiStateMachine is the main class used to control Wi-Fi activity, coordinate user input (operating modes: hotspot, scan, connect, or off), and control Wi-Fi network actions (such as scanning or connecting).

In Android 9 and higher, the Wi-Fi framework code and implementation of WifiStateMachine is re-architected, leading to reduced code size, easier-to-follow Wi-Fi control logic, improved control granularity, and increased coverage and quality of unit tests.

At a high level,WifiStateMachine allows Wi-Fi to be in one of four states:

  • Client mode (can connect and scan)
  • Scan only mode
  • SoftAP mode (Wi-Fi hotspot)
  • Disabled (Wi-Fi fully off)

Each Wi-Fi mode has different requirements for running services and should be set up in a consistent manner, handling only the events relevant to its operation. The new implementation restricts the code to events related to that mode, reducing debugging time and the risk of introducing new bugs due to complexity. In addition to explicit handling for mode functionality, thread management is handled in a consistent manner and the use of asynchronous channels is eliminated as a mechanism for synchronization.

Wi-Fi permission updates

In Android 9 and higher, the CHANGE_WIFI_STATE app permission is enabled by default. You can disable the permission for any app on the settings page in Settings > Apps & notifications > Special app access > Wi-Fi control.

Apps must be able to handle cases where the CHANGE_WIFI_STATE permission isn't granted.

To validate this behavior, run the roboelectric and manual tests.

For manual testing:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Special app access > Wi-Fi control.
  2. Select and turn off the permission for your app.
  3. Verify that your app can handle the scenario where the CHANGE_WIFI_STATE permission isn't granted.

WPS deprecation

Due to security issues, Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS) in WiFiManager is deprecated and disabled in Android 9 and higher. However, WiFiDirect still uses WPS in the WPA supplicant.

Graphics

Implementation

Vulkan 1.1 API

Android 9 and higher supports implementing the Vulkan 1.1 graphics API.

WinScope tool for window transition tracing

Android 9 and higher includes the WinScope tool for tracing window transitions. WinScope provides infrastructure and tools to record and analyze the window manager state during and after transitions. It allows recording and stepping through window transitions, while recording all pertinent window manager state to a trace file. You can use this data to replay and step through the transition.

The WinScope tool source code is located at platform/development/tools/winscope.

Interaction

Automotive audio

Automotive Audio describes the audio architecture for automotive-related Android implementations.

The Neural Networks (NN) HAL defines an abstraction of the various accelerators. The drivers for these accelerators must conform to this HAL.

Vehicle HAL

Vehicle Properties describes changes to the vehicle HAL interface.

GNSS satellite selection

When working with new global navigation satellite system (GNSS) HALs (v1.1+), the Android Framework monitors Android settings. Partners can change the settings from Google Play services or other system updates. These settings tell the GNSS HAL if certain GNSS satellites shouldn't be used. This can be useful in case of persistent GNSS satellite or constellation errors, or to react more rapidly to GNSS HAL implementation issues that may occur when mixing constellations using different time systems and external events, such as leap-second, day, or week number rollovers.

GNSS hardware model

In Android 9, the GNSS HAL version 1.1 or higher can pass information about the hardware API to the platform. The platform needs to implement the IGnssCallback interface and pass a handle to the HAL. The GNSS HAL passes the hardware model information through the LocationManager#getGnssHardwareModelName() method. Device manufacturers should work with their GNSS HAL providers to provide this information where possible.

Permissions

Configuring discretionary access control (DAC) updates

Configuring Discretionary Access Control (DAC) contains updates to the Android IDs (AIDs) mechanism for extending file system capabilities.

Whitelisting privileged apps permissions

In Android 9 and higher, if there are permissions that should be denied, edit the XML to use the deny-permission tag instead of the permission tag used in prior releases.

Data

Bandwidth estimation improvements

Android 9 provides improved support for bandwidth estimation. Android apps can make more appropriate resolution settings for video calls and video streaming if they can access the data bandwidth available.

On devices running Android 6.0 or higher, a caller wanting a bandwidth estimate for a cellular network calls ConnectivityManager.requestBandwidthUpdate(), and the framework may provide an estimated downlink bandwidth.

But on devices running 9 or higher, the onCapabilitiesChanged() callback automatically fires when there's a significant change in the estimated bandwidth, and calling requestBandwidthUpdate() is a no-op; the associated getLinkDownstreamBandwidthKbps() and getLinkUpstreamBandwidthKbps() are populated with updated information provided by the physical layer.

In addition, devices can check the LTE cell bandwidths via ServiceState.getCellBandwidths(). This lets applications determine how much bandwidth (frequency) is available on a given cell. Cell bandwidth information is available via a hidden menu so that field testers can check the most current information.

eBPF traffic monitoring

The eBPF network traffic tool uses a combination of kernel and user space implementation to monitor network use on a device since the last device boot. This tool provides additional functionality such as socket tagging, separating foreground/background traffic, and per-UID firewall to block apps from network access depending on device state.

Restore to lower APIs

Devices can now restore from future versions of the operating system. This is especially useful when users have upgraded their phones but then lost or broken them.

If an OEM modifies the backup agents for any of the system packages (android, system, settings), those agents should handle restoring backups sets that were made on higher versions of the platform without crashing and with restoring at least some data.

Consider using a validator to check for invalid values of a given piece of backup data and only restore valid data, as in core/java/android/provider/SettingsValidators.java.

The feature is on by default. SettingsBackupAgent support for restoring from future versions can be turned off via Settings.Global.OVERRIDE_SETTINGS_PROVIDER_RESTORE_ANY_VERSION. No additional implementation is required unless the device manufacturer extends one of the backup agents included in the ROM (or adds a custom agent).

This feature allows system restores from future versions of the platform; however, it’s reasonable to expect that the restored data won’t be complete. The following instructions apply to the following backup agents:

  • PackageManagerBackupAgent supports future versions of the backup data via format versioning; extensions here must be compatible with the current restore code or follow instructions in the class, which include bumping the proper constants.

  • SystemBackupAgent specifies restoreAnyVersion = false in Android 9 and higher. It doesn’t support a restore from higher versions of the API.

  • SettingsBackupAgent specifies restoreAnyVersion = true in Android 9 and higher. Partial support exists via validators. A setting can be restored from a higher API version if a validator for it exists in the target OS. Adding any setting should be accompanied by its validator. Check the class for details.

  • Any custom backup agent included in the ROM should increase its version code any time an incompatible change is made to the backup data format and ensure restoreAnyVersion = false (the default) if their agent is not prepared to deal with backup data from a future version of their code.

Enterprise

Managed profile improvements

UX changes for managed profiles make it easier for users to identify, access, and control the managed profile.

Pausing OTAs

A new @SystemApi lets device owners indefinitely pause OTA updates, including security updates.

Performance

Health 2.0

Android 9 and higher includes android.hardware.health HAL 2.0, a major version upgrade from health@1.0 HAL. For more information see these pages:

APK caching

Android 9 and higher includes an APK caching solution for rapid installation of preloaded apps on a device that supports A/B partitions. OEMs can place preloads and popular apps in the APK cache stored mostly in the empty B partition on new A/B-partitioned devices without impacting any user-facing data space.

Profile-guided optimization (PGO)

Android 9 and higher supports using Clang's profile-guided optimization (PGO) on native Android modules that have blueprint build rules.

Write-ahead logging (WAL)

A special mode of SQLiteDatabase called compatibility write-ahead logging (WAL) allows a database to use journal_mode=WAL while keeping a maximum of one connection per database.

Boot times

Android 9 changes boot time optimization as described in Optimizing Boot Times.

Power

Background restrictions

Android 9 and higher includes background restrictions that allow users to restrict apps that may be draining battery power. The system may also suggest disabling apps that are negatively affecting a device's health.

Batteryless devices

Android 9 handles batteryless devices more elegantly than in previous releases. Android 9 removes code for batteryless devices that assumed by default that a battery was present, charged at 100%, and in good health with a normal temperature reading on its thermistor.