Android Q: What to expect and when!

Winter is coming. Ok, darkness is coming. More accurately, dark mode is coming. And its destination is Android Q. 

Yes, the latest version of Google’s OS – which we might also call Android 10 – has been available to developers and eager Pixel-using civilians for a few weeks.

As usual, Google packed a bunch of intriguing features into the update. Yet, typically, all the attention has been on the most superficial of them.

In this case, night mode.

It’s a bit weird, really. One of the rules of design is never to publish white type on a black background. It makes type hard to read.

Despite this, Android users appear very keen for Google to give them the tools to make their backgrounds dark. Thus, in the new build, there’s a new option in display settings that does just this. You can even force dark mode on apps – though this feature might not make the full launch.

Anyhow, to repeat, night mode is just the most talked-about feature of Android Q. Let’s see what else lies within…

More privacy, more permissions

Is privacy the new bottle ground in mobile? Apple’s all over it, and even Mark Zuckerberg is trying to claim some ground.

Now, with Q, Google is trying to give users back a little more control. It has revamped the permissions usage page in Settings to show which permissions are being used by how many apps. It also offers the ability to filter by permissions, so users can see which apps are using which.

Generally, Q makes privacy controls easier to access and to configure. For example, you can grant location access to an app all the time, only when in use, or not at all.

Similarly, you can control apps’ access to the Photos and Videos or the Audio collections via new runtime permissions.


Sharing Shortcuts

Let’s be honest. Sharing is easier in iOS. Google hates this. That’s why Android Q lets users jump directly into another app to share content. The methodology resembles how App Shortcuts works, so Google has expanded the ShortcutInfo API to make the integration of both features easier for developers.


Fewer app interruptions

Google wants to stop apps leaping into the foreground when users are busy with something else. To reduce these interruptions, Android Q will prevent apps from launching an activity while in the background.

Similarly it is limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI and serial number.


Screen recording

Another much-requested feature. Screen recording lets you natively record a video of your screen with an optional voiceover. Perfect for capturing your mobile gaming victories.


Better, faster, safer wifi

Android Q wants to make wifi faster and more private. There’s a refactored wifi stack and support for WPA3 and Enhanced Open.


Support for foldable phones

Where do you stand on foldables? Next big thing or the new curved screen? Google is keeping its options open with a few features dedicated to the form factor. For example, it has changed how the Resizeable Activity manifest attribute works, to help developers manage how their app is displayed on foldable and large screens.


Accessible settings panels

Android Q makes it easier for users to tweak their settings without leaving an app. A new Settings Panel API will let developers show system display settings such as wifi, NFC, and audio volume inside apps.


Blurry photos in apps

People love bokeh – the background blur that makes photos look so much better. In Q, apps can request a Dynamic Depth image to offer the option.


Faster video streaming

Android Q supports video codec AV1 to power high-quality video streaming that consumes less bandwidth.


Facial recognition

Yes, phone makers have their own facial recognition systems, but Android Q will offer native support for dedicated hardware sensors. The move should make it easier for more manufacturers to leverage a more secure form of facial recognition.

 

These are just a few highlights of the new Q features. There’s more on Google’s dedicated developer site: https://developer.android.com/preview/index.html

Q will launch later this year, and Google will reveal further details when the third beta build of Android Q is previewed at Google I/O 2019 from May 7 to May 9.

It might even have a name.

Maybe Qottab, an Iranian pastry. Or maybe not.

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