The new Android Q beta is here, live for 21 phone models across 13 manufacturers.
Google released Beta 3 during its annual I/O conference on May 7, and now everyone’s talking about its new features. And even though we’re still three beta versions away from the final public release, Android users are obviously more than ready to welcome this new change.
Here’s every Android Q feature you need to know about before this August.
Side-Swipe Instead of the Back Button
The first change in Android Q is about system navigation, and it is a big one.
The back button has been around for so long that it has become an Android staple. Now it’s finally going away, as it will be replaced with a more intuitive side-swipe gesture. One swipe from either edge of the screen will open a slide menu, while double swipe will take you back.
In Addition to Chat Heads, Bubbles
On-screen app management will become more intuitive too, judging by the latest Beta’s “bubbles.” Just like Facebook Messenger’s floating chat heads, bubbles will serve as shortcuts to convos in other apps. And this novelty will not be limited to texting apps only, according to Google.
For now, however, multitasking bubbles will be allowed for Messages and Hangouts.
A System-Wide Dark Mode, Finally
It’s finally happening, guys. Google is introducing Android’s very own Dark Theme.
The first ever system-wide dark mode on Android OS is currently available for settings menu only, but there’s no doubt it will be perfected just in time for the traditional August release. Dark mode buffs will be able to turn this feature on and off two ways, both equally easy and convenient.
The Dark Theme shortcut will be available in the notification shade along with the current Night Light feature. You’ll be able to switch it on and off manually whenever you please. In addition to that, the dark mode will be triggered automatically when the Battery Saver mode is turned on.
New Customization Tools & Options
It seems like Android Q will have more options for theme customization in general.
Developers were first to notice hints of this addition in Beta 1, where users were able to change the accent color of the entire UI. And then a new app appeared in Beta 2, called Pixel Themes. One can only assume what this means: users will finally get a larger personalization toolkit.
On-Device Real-Time “Live Caption”
In-app real-time captions are usually a hot mess. Facebook generally does it better than YouTube, but still not good enough to provide the same level of experience to their deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Android’s new rollout will hopefully solve this with its own on-device caption feature.
“Live Caption” will not require an internet connection, only a switch in accessibility settings.
Security Updates in the Background
Security-wise, Android Q will bring a couple of significant changes and additions.
The first is Google’s much-talked-about Project Mainline, which equips Android developers with all the necessary tools for running security updates on critical parts of the OS without having to initiate a full software update. This means security patches will install silently in the background.
Project Mainline will automatically download small system updates from Google Play, run them in the background, and apply them the next time the user reboots the phone. Besides security, this neat new feature will also provide automatic module updates for game developers.
More Control Over App Permissions
The second phone security addition announced for Android Q is better app control.
First, we have runtime permissions. Instead of downloading an app, allowing access to Photos or Contacts, and forgetting all about it, users of new Android will be able to set a time limit on app permissions. Better control also implies more options for location access and downloads as well.
In terms of security, this is a huge step in the right direction. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t mean that you can rely on OS security features alone. You should keep using the best VPN app there is for anonymous browsing and practice general cyber hygiene whenever online.
“Sharing Shortcuts” for Quick Sharing
Day-to-day use of Android will become much more comfortable with Q’s “Sharing Shortcuts.”
Pie’s sharing menu works just fine when you need to forward something via Messenger. But it starts to crash the moment you try to share a pic or document with another app. Google promises that “Sharing Shortcuts” will make this routine much better, and finally offer a frictionless UX.
All Hail the Built-In Screen Recorder
A great OS eliminates not only friction from the UX but also the need for third-party apps. It looks like Android Q might check both of these boxes. Especially now that early users have discovered a built-in screen recorder hidden deep in developer options. So many possibilities with this one. By the look of it, Q’s screen recorder will have visual indicators and a voiceover option.
Foldable Phone-Specific Features
If you’re into humongous screens and foldable phones, Android Q will feel like home.
The beta includes a foldable emulator in Android Studio 3.5 for developers. Thus officially supporting system-wide optimization for folded screens and UI continuity. Multi-resume will be better, promises Google. The same goes for the Multi-Window mode and app management for unfolded screens.
Exciting News For Android Users
Even though Google’s team has confirmed only a couple of features and additions, the last Beta version speaks for itself. There’s no doubt that the complete version of Android Q – however they eventually decide to call it – will be chock-full with exciting new functionalities.
Of course, Android Q receives bonus points for Project Mainline and app permissions.
What else do you need to know?
Google traditionally releases new versions of Android in August. Q will probably not be an exception. We are currently waiting for Beta 4 to be released in early June. From then on, we’re only two beta versions shy of the real deal. Will it be free? Like much else, this remains to be seen.