Google announced Android Q Beta 3 at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, in Mountain View California, last night. The keynote included a bunch of announcements across different Google products and services, in addition to the launch of two new Pixel devices: Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL and a smart display: Nest Hub Max.
The company celebrated the tenth anniversary of Android with the newest Android Q. It also said that, currently, Android is running on more than 2.5B active Android devices, which is yet another milestone.
With Android Q Beta 3, Google is opening doors to 15 partner devices from 12 OEMs (twice as many devices as last year) with the help of Project Treble. The device manufacturers who made it to the partner list include Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, ASUS, LGE, TECNO, Essential, and Realme. Users who own an Android device from any of the device manufacturers mentioned on the list or have a Pixel device can follow our guide for steps on how to download and install the latest Android Q Beta 3 on their device.
To give you a heads up, with Android Q the company has narrowed down its focus on three principal motifs: Innovation, Security and Privacy, and Digital Wellbeing. It said that it wants users to take advantage of the latest technologies like 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more while making sure that users’ security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority.
With that out of the way and the Android Q Beta 3 out for users to get their hands on, let’s dive into what the newest version of Android has in store for the users.
Google is pushing towards improving user experience with its newest Beta 3 for Android Q. Some of these improvements, along with a few highly-requested user features include:
With foldable devices starting to gain some traction, Google is focusing on improving the user experience by optimizing Android Q for the foldable screens to make sure that users experience a seamless screen continuity in transitions. In addition to these, it is also bringing changes to some of its Activity methods to provide a better experience with foldable devices.
Google is adding platform support for 5G and is extending support for its existing APIs to make apps 5G-ready. With a lot of device manufacturers expected to introduce a 5G-ready device at the end of the year and network carriers also running parallel to launch 5G networks around the world, Google is making all the efforts to scale support for a quick and smooth 5G experience.
Live Caption is a new addition to Android Q that uses AI to automatically caption any media on the device including videos, podcasts, and audio messages. It expands the audience for digital media by making it accessible at the ease of a single tap. Especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Live Caption can make it convenient for them to keep up with the media on their device even when they are in a noisy environment. A good thing about this is that everything works offline on the device with its improvements in speech recognition, without requiring an internet connection. Live Caption will be made available later this year.
Smart Replies and Actions in Notifications
Similar to Smart Replies for notifications, introduced with Android Pie, that allowed users to engage with apps directly from notifications, Google is expanding the horizon to make it available to all the apps. To do this, with Beta 3, it is enabling the system-provided smart replies and actions directly in the notifications using the on-device ML service.
One of the most-requested features, Dark Theme, is finally making its way in Android Q. In addition to giving the overall UI a stealth look, the dark theme also reduces battery consumption on OLED panels and also puts comparatively less strain on the eye. With Beta 3, users can now enable a system-wide dark theme from within display settings. With dark theme enabled, the system UI along with the dark-theme supported apps will change to an overall dark theme. For apps that do not support the dark theme, can either develop their own version of the same or opt-in for a new Force Dark feature that will let the OS create a dark version of the app’s existing theme.
Most of the Android devices, nowadays, are moving towards an edge-to-edge display which has less of the head and chin on the top and the bottom. And for that, they are compromising on the navigations buttons, provided on the chin. So to come up with an alternative, Google has introduced a fully gestural navigation mode on Android Q that takes away the need for the navigation bar area on the bottom and provides users with a fullscreen experience across apps and games. The feature can be enabled from System settings, after which, users can – swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get to the Home screen, hold on to show Recents, and swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to trigger the Back action.
2. Privacy and Security
Throughout its keynote at Google I/O, Google has emphasized a lot on how much it is concerned with user privacy and security. And the essential steps that it has taken to improve it on both the fronts.
With user privacy at the center of its focus, Google says it always has user privacy in mind when bringing new features or enhancing the existing ones on the platform. And with that, providing user control and transparency on how their data is collected and used by the apps present on their phones. With Android Q, the company has improved system UI and introduced stricter permissions to restrict the data that the apps can use. Some of the improvements in Android Q include – the ability to have better control over location settings, Scoped Storage: to give users control over files and prevent apps from accessing sensitive user or app data, restricting app launches from the background, and limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers like device IMEI, serial number etc and a few more.
Along with improving user Privacy, Google is also focusing on enhancing user security. For this, it is taking measures like – extending its BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level, extending support for passive authentication methods such as the face, and addition of implicit and explicit authentication flows. With the explicit authentication flow, users must explicitly confirm the transaction, whereas, with the new implicit authentication flow, users are not required to explicitly confirm. In addition to these improvements, Google is also adding support for TLS 1.3 which includes performance benefits and enhanced security. The company claims that that secure connection can be established as much as 40% faster with TLS 1.3 compared to TLS 1.2.
To further enhance user security, Google has also announced Project Mainline which is a new way to keep users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes directly from Google Play. With the new feature, the company will be able to update specific internal components within the OS itself without requiring a full system update from the device manufacturer. By doing so, it aims to keep the OS code on devices fresher, drive a new level of consistency, and bring the latest AOSP code to users faster. Users can hugely benefit from this feature, as now, their device will also be running the latest versions of the modules, including the latest updates for security, privacy, and consistency.
3. Digital Wellbeing
In addition to taking care of a user’s privacy and security and introducing them to new features and improvements, Google is also focussing on helping users find the right balance with the way they use their phones. The company introduced Digital Wellbeing with Dashboards, App Timers, Flip to Shush, and Wind Down mode last year, and now, it is expanding it with the introduction of Focus Mode and Family Link.
Focus Mode is specifically designed for times when user’s want to focus on their work and not get distracted by annoying notifications on their phone. With the new feature, users can select the apps that they find distracting and silence them. By doing so, the selected apps will be paused until the Focus Mode is turned off. For easy convenience, users can use the Quick Tiles to switch Focus Mode. The feature will be rolling out to Android Pie and Android Q devices this fall.
In addition to allowing users to keep track of their usage activity and stay focussed, Google is also allowing users to set controls for their kids. With Family Link built right into the device settings, users can connect to their kid’s device at the time of setting up the device. After which, they can set daily screen time limits, see the apps their child is spending time on, review any new apps that the child wants to install, and even set a device bedtime so their child can disconnect and get to sleep. In addition to these, with Android Q users can set time limits on specific apps and give their kids Bonus Time if they want them to have 5 more minutes of bedtime. Family Link is coming to both Android Pie and Android Q later this fall.
That’s all folks!
Stay tuned to TechPP for further developments and announcements. And follow our guide to enjoy the all-new Android Q experience on your device.