Android Q Features: Dark mode, support for foldable phones and more
Google’s fourth Android Q beta is here, and you can download it right now in order to get an early look at all the new features and functions Google’s next major mobile OS release will bring to the table. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the biggest Android Q features and the Android Q features we’re most excited about.
While the beta doesn’t yet include all of the rumoured features, there’s better support for foldable devices, gesture navigation, Dark Mode, a number of privacy and security updates, faster app startup and loads, loads more.
Related: How to install Android Q
Android Q features: The biggest things to look forward to
The highly anticipated Dark Theme will not only be more pleasant to watch your screen at night, but will also save energy on OLED screens. It’ll activate automatically when you put your Pixel in power saver mode. On other phones, it will be accessible under Settings > Display > Dark Theme.
You can find out more about Dark Theme here.
Arguably the biggest change coming with Android Q is the entirely gesture-based navigation system. Gesture navigation made its first appearance on Android Pie, though that has a hybrid interface that combined some gesture navigation features with buttons − there’ll be no buttons in Android Q’s UI.
One of the key reasons for this is Google wanting apps to fill the entire screen.
The back button, for instance, will be replaced by swiping inwards from either the left or the right edge of the screen. In apps such as Gmail where swiping from the side already performs an action, you may have to swipe twice.
And going back to the home screen and Quick Switch will both involve swipes at the bottom of the screen in the space previously occupied by the nav bar. We’re remaining open-minded about the switch, and you can find out more about the functionality here.
Google describes Bubbles as a new way for Android device owners to “multitask and reengage with apps”. Bubbles will give users the opportunity to view notifications as floating versions of apps that sit on top of content, similar to Facebook Messenger’s Chat Heads.
For example, when you’ve got a notes app open, you’ll be able to pull up a text conversation over it, in order to send a quick reply. That’s the example Google uses in the screenshot below:
You can read about Bubbles in more depth here.
A better UX for foldables
Android Q will bring enhanced support for folding phones, with Google saying that the operating system and apps will be able to support different folding patterns, new screen ratios, multiple windows and multiple screens.
App Continuity will also ensure that apps will recognise when you’ve switched between form factors (aka, from folded to unfolded modes and vice versa) and immediately transition accordingly.
On the developer side of things, Google has created a foldables emulator, which should make it easier for app makers to scale their content for the next-generation smartphone form factor. You can find out more about it here.
New location tools
The Android Q beta brings new location permissions options for Android Q users. With the OS running on their device, users will be able to access additional controls for when an app can access their location.
Users can choose from three options when an app requests for location permissions:
- Allow all the time
- Allow when using the app
“An app asking for a user’s location for food delivery makes sense and the user may want to grant it the ability to do that. But since the app may not need location outside of when it’s currently in use, the user may not want to grant that access. Android Q now offers this greater level of control,” says Google.
New privacy tools
The Android Q beta also includes security tools that limit apps’ access to device IMEI, serial number, and other identifying information. It also gives users a little more protection when using Wi-Fi networks by randomising the devices MAC (media access control) address.
Google says there are “new restrictions on launching activities from the background without user interaction,” while apps “now need FINE location permission to do wireless scans Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, telephony, and camera metadata.”
New sharing and connectivity features
Google is adding some new Sharing Shortcuts, which will allow users to jump between apps more easily. Google explains it as such: “Developers can publish share targets that launch a specific activity in their apps with content attached, and these are shown to users in the share UI.”
Google is also adding a new connectivity settings panel within third-party, meaning they can easily access settings like Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode and other settings without having to leave the app. You can find out more here.
Better media controls
As spotted by 9to5Google, the Android Q beta lets you see a progress bar for music and videos when you expand the media notification. While it’s hardly the most important feature in the world, it’s nice to be able to see how much of a song or TV show you have left so quickly.
Unfortunately though, you can’t skip forward or rewind by tapping along the progress bar.
Read more: Best smartphone
An unexpected addition to Android Q was Live Caption, which will now be available even while in Airplane Mode, making content far more accessible to all people. You can activate this feature just with a single tap, and it works with videos, podcasts, and audio messages.
The popular addition to Gmail will now be built into the notification system so it’s available across all messaging services to suggest replies. One example is if you’re sent an address, you can just click on it to open it in Maps.
When you need to get to work without distractions, this new mode will be invaluable. Focus Mode will let you temporarily silence apps which you don’t want to be disturbed by, so that you can crack on with the project in hand.
Usefully, you will still be able to receive some notifications from those silenced apps if necessary — for instance, if you might be contacted by your family.
The Family Link function will be available on every device that has Digital Wellbeing.
The new version will have app-specific time limits, plus bonus time (when your child begs for “just five more minutes!”).