Android Q is the tenth major version of the Android operating system. It was first announced by Google on March 13, 2019, and the first beta was released on the same day. The second beta was released on April 3, 2019. The third beta was released at the Google I/O conference on May 7, 2019. The third beta is also known as the public beta since devices other than Google Pixels are allowed to participate. The Android Q beta program has now expanded to 13 different OEMs. This is a great improvement over last year where the number of OEMs participating in the beta program was very few. Yesterday, Google announced the fourth beta for Android Q.
As expected from every OS upgrade, Android Q beta brings in some interesting improvements over the previous versions of Android.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
We all know that the method of navigation in Android P was horrible. It was a disastrous mix of buttons and gestures. Tap on the pill to go home, swipe up from the pill for recent apps, long swipe or double swipe will take you to the app drawer and there used to be a dedicated back button to take you to the previous page. OnePlus, Xiaomi and Huawei developed better methods of navigation based on gestures in their iterations of Android 9 Pie.
In Android Q, Google draws inspiration from Xiaomi, Huawei, and Apple to develop their take on gesture navigation. There is a bar at the button part of the screen like the one found on iPhone X and above. Swiping up from the bar takes you home while a long swipe and pause take you to the recent apps. Swiping from the edges of the display from either side serves as the gesture to replace the back button. This is what Xiaomi and Huawei are doing for a year now.
Regarding this, Google said:
In Android Q we’re introducing a new fully gestural navigation mode that eliminates the navigation bar area and allows apps and games to use the full screen to deliver their content. It retains the familiar Back, Home, and recents navigation through edge swipes rather than visible buttons.
2. Privacy Focussed Features
Last year, serious allegations were thrown against Google for their practice of collecting user’s data and other Android developers for constantly accessing user’s data. Addressing this issue, Google states:
In Android Q, the OS gives users even more control over apps, controlling access to shared files. Users will be able to control apps’ access to the Photos and Videos or the Audio collections via new runtime permissions. For Downloads, apps must use the system file picker, which allows the user to decide which Download files the app can access.
This is said to be getting polished when Android Q is officially launched in the early second half of 2019.
3. Support For Foldable Phones
The year of 2019 can be the year of foldable phones with the likes of Samsung and Huawei already announced their folding phones. Xiaomi, Oppo and several other OEMs are said to be releasing phones with foldable displays by the end of this year. So as to ensure that the user experience on these phones is not cumbersome, they are adding features to Android Q that will make foldable phones a pleasant experience.
This is what Google said about foldable phones:
To help your apps to take advantage of these and other large-screen devices, we’ve made a number of improvements in Android Q, including changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We’ve also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on foldable and large screens.
4. More Customisation Options
This has been a long wait now. OEMs like OnePlus has already been providing these features for a long time now. With Android Q, Google is adding support to customize the accent colors at the system-wide level. While this feature is not fully functional yet, it is assumed to make its way to the stable release of Android Q.
5. Dark Mode Is Here
Last year with Android P, Google introduced a dark mode which let you theme the notification drawer, quick settings panel and the app drawer with either light or dark background. While this was a step in the right direction, geeks like me were not satisfied as OnePlus, Samsung and Huawei were offering system-wide dark mode. This year, Google not just build a system-wide dark mode for Android Q but also designed an API that developers can use to have their apps go to a dark theme as well when the dark mode is turned on.
After years of shouting, protesting and begging, Google listened to us and provided us with the system-wide dark theme as a result of which we will not burn our eyes in a poorly lit environment anymore.
6. Screen Recording Is Finally Coming To Stock Android
Android purists just got another reason to rejoice. Aside from Dark Mode, native screen recording has been the most asked feature in the last couple of years. While there is not any shortcut to access it at this stage of beta, we are expecting it to be ready for use when the stable version releases. As of the third beta, one can access it from the depths of the developer options.
7. Face ID is here
Android had a face unlock tool since Android 4.4 Jellybean days but it was buried deep inside the settings menu and was nowhere near secure or intuitive as that of the implementation by Apple. Though Apple came late to the party, it came up with industry-first 3D facial recognition hardware and as expected, many Android OEMs, especially from China, introduced 3D Face Recognition hardware in their devices.
With Android Q, Google is enabling support for 3D face recognition in their Android framework. Though this feature does not look to be in the final stage, 9to5Google states that, according to information found in the teardown, face authentication will work for application sign in and payments.
8. Project Mainline
System Updates and Android are two terms which do not go well together. Though situations have improved a lot in the near past, the results are far from being satisfactory as expect for Google phones and few other flagships, android phones do not receive timely updates and some do not even receive any updates in their lifetime. Google has tried to address this issue in the past with the launch of Project Treble around 2 years ago which worked but not as expected. Though Project Treble was not a big success, Google is not giving up and is instead launching the Project Mainline to make update processes simpler and effective.
This is what Google has to say about Project Mainline:
Project Mainline a new approach to keeping Android users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes, direct from Google Play. With Project Mainline, we’re now able to update specific internal components within the OS itself, without requiring a full system update from your device manufacturer.
9. Digital Wellbeing improvements
Last year, with the launch of Android 9 Pie, Google announced Digital Wellbeing to help Android phone users to control their smartphone addiction. Digital Wellbeing is basically a dashboard which will provide you with the entire report of your phone’s usage which includes the time you spend on your phone along with time spent on each app and service on your phone. It will even let you know if you have been spending more time than what it is recommended to use. This year, Google is adding new features into its Digital Wellbeing initiative namely Family Link and Focus Mode.
Speaking about Family Link, Google said that Family Link will be built right into the Settings on the device. When you set up a new device for your child, Family Link will help you connect it to you. You’ll be able to set daily screen time limits, see the apps where your child is spending time, review any new apps your child wants to install and even set a device bedtime so your child can disconnect and get to sleep.
And regarding Focus Mode, Google said that Focus Mode is designed for all those times you’re working or studying, and you want to focus to get something done. With focus mode, you can pick the apps that you think might distract you and silence them.
10. Better Portrait Mode Photos
Portrait Mode has become the new big thing in smartphone photography in the last 3 years. Portrait mode has gained fame like none other camera modes. Though we have made a lot of progress regarding the quality of portrait pictures, it still remains hit or miss in most of the scenarios except for the few top of the line phones. Google is addressing this issue in Android Q and this is what it has to say in this regards:
Apps can now request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support. Requesting a JPEG + Dynamic Depth image makes it possible for you to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app. We’re working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later.
Recommended: Google Is Having A Hard Time Naming Android Q
So that’s it for now. I think Android Q will be called as Quesito. Let me know what do you expect Q to stand for. I hope this article works the way it is intended to be. Let us know your thoughts on Android Q. In case I missed mentioning anything or if there is some topic which you want me to cover, please let me know in the comments section down below. Let us know your thoughts on Android Q and what could it be named in the comments section. In case I missed mentioning something or if there is some topic which you want me to cover, let me know in the comments section down below.