Android Q, the latest version of Android, is now available in beta. Well, it has been in beta since March – but at I/O 2019, Google rolled it out of select preview so more people can (now) try it out in advance. Ahead of a more stable roll-out, possibly in August. Google has been following this trend since last year to gauge interest as well as find bugs through real-world user cases – so it can fix them sooner rather than later.
While a lot many features of Android Q have already been out in the open since March, at I/O 2019, Google dropped some more, in addition to giving a general idea as to where Android was heading, after 10 years.
Android Q beta (3) eligible devices
The Android Q beta 1 was exclusive to Google’s Pixel phones – Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. As expected, Google has now opened the platform for third-party devices. Broadly speaking, Android Q beta (3) is available for 21 devices from 13 brands, including all Pixel phones.
Here’s the complete list of third-party phones eligible for Android Q beta:
-Asus ZenFone 5Z
-Huawei Mate 20 Pro
-LG G8 ThinQ
-OnePlus 6T (the upcoming OnePlus 7/OnePlus 7 Pro should be eligible at launch)
-Realme 3 Pro
-Sony Xperia XZ3
-Tecno Spark 3 Pro
-Vivo NEX S
-Vivo NEX A
-Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
-Xiaomi Mi 9
Oddly enough, no Samsung phone features in the list, just like last year.
Android Q beta (3) top features
Android Q will not be a substantial upgrade over Android P as far as visuals are concerned – and even though Google will continue to add more features all along until the final roll-out, what we’re seeing now is what it’s going to look like eventually. The Android Q beta (3) has five key features – worth talking about. Google clubs them under innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing categories.
-Live Caption: This new accessibility feature can automatically caption media that’s playing audio on your device by pressing a button – at I/O Google demoed the feature by using the volume down key. There are two breakthrough advantages of Live Caption – it can work across any app, as long as there’s audio playing, and it works on-device without needing internet (cellular or Wi-Fi).
-Smart Reply: Google is expanding the scope of Smart Reply (that was first introduced in Gmail) to allow any messaging app (SMS, WhatsApp et al) to suggest replies in notifications in Android Q. Google says the feature will be also able to ‘intelligently predict your next action.’ For instance, if someone texts you an address, Smart Reply can take you straight to Google Maps.
Security and privacy
-Google is redesigning the privacy menu in settings in Android Q with special emphasis on securing user location from apps. Google is offering more granular control to users when it comes to location sharing with apps with Android Q. Android Q will offer as many as three levels of permissions – share location only when a given app is in use, or all the time (even when the app is running in the background), or don’t share location at all (at all times). The OS will also send automatic reminders when an app is using location in the background.
-Project Mainline: Google says, Project Mainline is a “new approach to keeping Android users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes, direct from Google Play." Google goes so far as to say that certain OS components will be able to update in the background, similar to how one updates an app from the Play Store. Not only will this ensure faster updates, it will also bring with it the convenience to never reboot your device post a software update.
-Focus Mode: Google’s digital wellbeing feature is being expanded to include a new per-app based Focus Mode in Android Q. The feature will allow users to selectively mute certain apps for the proverbial peace of mind.
-Family Link: Advanced parental controls are also coming to Android Q so parents will be able to not only set app-specific time limits for their children, but also add bonus time which Google says has been a highly requested feature.
-System-wide dark mode: Yes, a system-wide dark mode is finally coming to Android through Android Q. As the name suggests, dark mode (which is ultimately designed to save battery life), will turn the whole system UI (the settings menu, the notification menu and in-house apps) stark black – which should particularly stand out among the growing crop of OLED devices.
- Support for foldable phones: Foldable phones are all the rage these days and with legacy brands like Samsung and Huawei investing (and Apple said to be secretly working on) in them, it won’t be long before they become the new norm in the days to come. Software will be key to their success. Gauging the interest early, Google is working to make Android work well on foldable devices and Android Q is its first step in that direction.