The first beta of Android Q has arrived, allowing us to know some of the main novelties that Google prepares for the next version of its mobile operating system. Therefore, today we will go into depth with this first release so you can know everything you need to know about this version.
We’ll start by explaining exactly what Android Q is and what it means to be a beta version. Then we will tell you the forecasts of Google for its launch dates, and we will continue listing all the news it contains, and we will finish telling you how you can download it.
Some of them may not reach their final version, but they help us get an idea of what approach you want to give them. A clue: it has to do with privacy.
What is Android Q?
Android Q is the next version of Google’s operating system after the release of Android 9.0 Pie, so we could also refer to it as Android 10.0. Like each new version, we will find several improvements for the operating system, some new and others with internalized improvements that other manufacturers have been implementing through their respective layers of customization.
What you have for the moment is a beta or trial version, and we do not expect the final version to arrive until the second half of the year. The Android versions always have candy names in English, but in the betas phases they are usually limited to putting a letter of the alphabet, and each new version is the next letter of the previous one.
Then from that letter comes the final name, such as an Android P that in its final version was called Android Pie, or an Android O that ended up being Android Oreo.
During the next months, Google is going to launch several betas to receive the opinions of developers and users who want to try it, and thus solve faults, debugging performance, and giving developers the ability to adapt their applications for when the final version comes.
So, although in the coming months you will hear a lot about Android Q, it will not be until its final release that we know what all of its novelties are.
In spite of that, in this first beta, we already have some interesting ones, and although some may be discarded, most of them should be present in the final version.
When will Android Q arrive?
According to Google, this year(2019) they have very clear plans regarding development, beta testing and the official launch of Android Q. The goal is to launch six beta versions before announcing the final version of the operation during the third quarter of the year.
As you can see in this graph, betas 2, 3 and 4 are scheduled for the beginning of each month (April, May, and June), and will later change the rate of publication until reaching the final version of Android Q in the fall. The goal of the first beta is to release the first details of Android Q and start receiving comments about its stability and possible problems.
- Beta 1 (initial version, beta)
- Beta 2 (update, beta)
- Beta 3 (update, beta)
- Beta 4 (Final APIs and official SDK, opening for compatible apps in Play Store, beta)
- Beta 5 (candidate for the trial version)
- Beta 6 (candidate for final version)
- Final version published in AOSP and ecosystem
Does this mean that your Android will have the new version in the fall?
Possibly not unless you have a Pixel phone or an Android One whose manufacturer decides to update as soon as possible. In general, after releasing the final version each manufacturer starts working on it to adapt it to their mobiles and their customization layers, meaning that in most cases until next year the massive updates will not begin.
What’s new in Android Q?
More privacy with location permissions
One of the main novelties of the first vein of the next version of the operating system of Google has to do with privacy. It is a new setting with which we can have more control over the applications that make use of our location in real time, even if they are in the background.
With this setting, you can decide which applications you want that cannot access your location. In addition to denying access to the location, you can also choose between authorizing applications to use the location of the device only when they are being used or at all times, a distinction that lets you know who accesses your location and when.
Limiting access to storage
And seeking permissions will also be added with which you will be able to control the access of applications to photos, videos, and music from the internal storage of your device. These three elements and downloads will have new execution permissions, so you can decide which applications can use your files and at what time.
This change also means that developers will have to change the way their applications use shared storage areas. It means that the apps can not use those types of files that tend to be more sensitive without your explicit permission.
More control of applications in the background
Other novelties of Android Q is to prevent applications in the background from opening alone to capture the user’s attention when using the mobile. This jump to the foreground is usually done, for example, to show advertisements, something that can be quite annoying.
From now on, applications will no longer be able to launch these types of ads while they are in the background. They can only get the attention of the user in case of incoming calls, alarms or notifications classified by the user as “high priority”, which will be the only ones that will appear in full screen.
Restricting access to your mobile’s identifiers
The special focus of Android towards privacy in its next version does not end here. A new feature is also included with which to restrict the access of applications to the identifiers of your device that can not be modified, such as the IMEI or the serial number, as well as other private data.
In addition, as an extra measure of security, you can also change the MAC address of the device randomly when connected to different Wi-Fi networks, although this is completely optional and you can deactivate it. As we know, the Mac address is a unique identifier that each manufacturer assigns to the network card of their connected devices. When you connect to a WiFi the administrator can know this information.
A new image format with depth
Portrait mode is one of the biggest photographic trends in the latest generations of mobile phones, and Android wants to make it easier to do it. For this, in Android Q they implement a new image format, which will save the XMP metadata with the depth of the photos that you take next to the JPG.
With this metadata that includes information about the depth in the photo, the idea is that these can then be used to edit with any other gallery or editor and we can add depth and effects such as the famous blur of the background that has the portrait mode.
Neural Networks API 1.2
Android Q adds support to the new Google Neural Networks API, which will allow manufacturers to improve the artificial intelligence of their devices. In the API, they have added 60 new operations, which allow among other things to accelerate and improve the detection of objects and images.
Welcome, folding devices
In the Mobile World Congress 2019, we have seen the arrival of the first new generation folding mobile phones, such as Samsung Galaxy Fold or Huawei Mate X. And there are other companies that are also preparing possible devices of this format, and Android does not want to be left behind when it comes to offering facilities.
Therefore, if Google released support for folding screens, Android Q will also improve when they are used with applications and functions such as onResume and onPause. Also, if you use the big screen with two or more applications, now support for simultaneous notifications is added. Finally, developers will also have a new tool to test how their application looks on these devices.
New configuration panels
Android Q also releases new configuration panels, and applications can integrate them to avoid having to open full settings. What does this mean? For example, if an application invites you to activate WiFi, it will no longer open the WiFi settings, but a lower panel with the options you need will be displayed.
These new panels at the bottom should help you streamline tasks and make some processes less heavy since you will not have to go to settings and then return to the application, everything will happen in a popup menu. In any case, this will also depend on the developers, so maybe the first one is not implemented in all your applications when you get Android Q.
One of the complaints of the latest versions of Android is that the option “Share with” was very slow, and it made you wait for several seconds until all the options were shown. Now in Android Q, everything will be faster, just touch on sharing you will see your most used options without having to wait.
More modes for WiFi
And since we have mentioned WiFi, applications can adjust the high performance or low latency modes of your connection. Low latency is important to improve the experience in real-time games or VoIP calls.
In addition, Android has also added the ability to share your WiFi network using QR code, so you do not have to give the password so that guests in your home to connect to Wi-fi. The option is in the Wi-Fi section, by touching the icon with the code reader next to Add network.
Hidden screen recorder
With the arrival of the beta, we are also discovering some features not officially announced by Google. One of them is the presence of a native option to record the screen of your mobile. This takes time to be done, but now you will not have to install other applications for it or depend on your manufacturer to include the option in its customization layer.
At the moment, to start a recording you have to do a long press of the power button, and then another long press on the screen capture option to start video recording. At the moment the options are minimal, so it is possible that Google is improving this function with the passage of betas.
Vulkan for all
The Vulkan 1.1 high-performance graphics API will now be a requirement for all 64-bit devices running Android Q and above. With this, developers can offer games with graphics with a quality closer to that of the consoles in more devices, a leap towards improving the importance of gaming in Android.
It also gives experimental support to ANGLE, a graphics abstraction layer that allows OpenGL games to run on Vulkan, significantly improving the performance of OpenGL-created games on Vulkan compatible devices.
Performance improvements in ART
Android Q improves the performance of the ART application execution environment. Okay, and what does that mean? Well, it will be possible to improve the speed at which applications are executed, all while trying to use less battery. Come on, a performance improvement like the ones you can always expect in the new versions of an operating system.
The desktop mode by default
Some manufacturers have been experimenting with a desktop mode for Android for some time. This means that, when you connect the mobile to a monitor, you can turn it into a computer and launch an adapted Android that looks like a desktop operating system. Now, Google is experimenting with this option on Android Q, although it is still quite green.
This desktop mode starts empty, with an options button on the left side and access to the application drawer on the right side. Options there are only two: change the wallpaper or add shortcuts to the desktop.
Desktop shortcuts are sorted automatically and you can not rearrange them, at least for the time being. When you touch on these shortcuts, the application will open in floating window mode if the screen has enough DPI. Otherwise, it will open as always.
Dark mode in Android Q
It is one of the most awaited innovations of Android Q: the dark mode from the system part, a kind of master switch that activates and deactivates the dark interface of the system and in the applications that include it. This dark mode is already in the beta of the operating system, although at the moment it still does not have that expected master switch, it is integrated into another option.
The fastest way to switch to the dark theme of Android is to activate the energy saving from the quick settings. This automatically switches to dark mode in both Android and compatible applications. And if you want to use dark mode but not save battery? In this case, you should wait for the final version of Android Q to see if Google decides to add a master set for it.
How to test the beta of Android Q?
At the moment, the only phones that can try the first beta of Android Q are the Pixel devices manufactured by Google. All Pixels can download it, that is, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The easiest way to do it is through the Android Beta Program, and it’s as simple as following these steps:
- Enter the website of the Android Beta Program.
- Sign in with your Google account.
- I will register the program by selecting the Pixel device you want to update.
- Once updated in less than 24 hours your Pixel will arrive at the OTA update of Android Q. The device will be updated to Android Q as if it were a normal update, keeping all your data, applications and settings.
Remember that this is only a first beta version, so Android Q is still very unstable and it is not advisable to update on a mobile that you are going to use in your day to day if you do not want to run into problems. If you are curious and want to try things forward, it is best to wait for at least to betas 5 and 6.