Google’s third 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.
While the beta doesn’t yet include all of the rumoured features , there’s enhanced support for foldable devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, the much-awaited Dark Mode (here called Dark Theme), a number of privacy and security updates, faster app startup and more.
There’s no news yet on what Google plans to call Android Q, but here’s what the company is bringing to the table with the first beta.
Related: How to install Android Q
Android Q features: What can we expect in the next update?
Google describes Bubbles as a new way for Android device owners to “multitask and reengage with apps”. Bubbles will give users the opportunity to pull up floating versions of apps 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:
“Bubbles help users prioritize information and take action deep within another app, while maintaining their current context. They also let users carry an app’s functionality around with them as they move between activities on their device,” says Google.
“Bubbles are great for messaging because they let users keep important conversations within easy reach. They also provide a convenient view over ongoing tasks and updates, like phone calls or arrival times. They can provide quick access to portable UI like notes or translations, and can be visual reminders of tasks too.”
New location tools
As speculated, 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,” or “Deny.”
The company writes: “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.”
New privacy tools
Android Q Beta 1 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
There’s not a lot in the way of user-centric features in this first beta, but 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.
Screen Continuity for folding phones
Google first announced support for foldables within Android Pie last autumn and Android Q will continue that work.
On the developer side of things, Google is also adding a foldables emulator, which will make it easier for app makers to scale their content for the next-generation smartphone form factor.
Better media notifications
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.
The highly anticipated Dark Theme will not only be more pleasant to watch your screen at night, but it will also save energy on OLED screens. It will be applied automatically when on power saver mode. Otherwise, it will be accessible under Settings > Display > Dark Theme.
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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. You can now 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 now 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!”)
What features would like to see Google add to Android Q? Tweet us at @trustedreviews.