As has become the norm, Google is granting an early glance at the next version of its mobile operating system. Google has officially launched the Android Q public beta for Google’s Pixel users. Following a burst of leaks and buzz, the announcement finally came a couple of days back on March 13. The Beta 1 is available for Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, and Pixel 3 XL.
Users with compatible Pixel models can experience the Android Q by participating in the Android Beta Program, where Beta 1 will be provided over-the-air. Google also provides system images and OTA files for sideloading. Non-Pixel owners can also experience Beta 1 by downloading the latest emulator system images via the SDK Manager in Android Studio.
Now let us look what to expect from Android Q Beta 1. The Beta 1 is recommended only for developers and not consumer use. Developers can start testing apps against the new Android API features. Beyond this, the bigger visible changes for end users are not here yet. But major enhancements and features are expected in the later versions.
Privacy is a big focus area in Android Q. Your location will now be considered as a special permission to have additional controls for app access. So, apps asking for your location will now pop-up options – asking you if you want to grant location access all the time, only when the app’s being used, or not at all.
Users can further control app access to the Photos, Videos, and Audio via Android Q’s new runtime permissions. Apps will have to use the system file picker for downloads, which lets the user control which Download files the app can access. It lets user disable or reset their advertising ID without being tracked, limiting access to device IMEI, serial number, as well as randomizing a device’s MAC address.
Android Q offers better support for resuming and pausing apps from running in the background foldable phones. Developers will now be able to manage the apps featuring better on a foldable and large screen. It also brings in improvements to resizing apps for split-screen modes, which is perfect for all the upcoming foldable devices.
Android Q substantially enhances imaging with Google’s new dynamic depth format, through specialized blurs and bokeh options, as well as 3D images or support for AR photography in future. It also introduces support for the new AV1 open source video codec. This allows for high quality video content at less bandwidth, and support for speech and music streaming.
Another good feature is a new floating Settings Panel for showing key system settings directly in third-party apps. It will provide quick access to phone settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC without having to leave the app. Android Q also introduces Sharing Shortcuts to share content by toggling directly into another app.
Last but not the least, what will Android Q be called? It does not have a name yet, and the though is already around the dessert names starting with Q. That may not be the most important question, but certainly one of the most popular ones swirling around.
Word of caution: After all the buzz, this is still a beta. So, you would do well to experience it on your secondary device initially. Better wait for it to settle down over the next few releases, as there could be issues during the course of usage. You can, however, give your feedback, feature requests, design changes and report bugs to the Android team. Google plans to have more iterations up to Beta 6, followed by the final public release.