What is new with Android Q?

Android Q Beta v3 has been released and is available on more devices than ever before!

A full release of Android Q is expected this autumn, but Google has announced new major features for the tenth version of Android at Google’s I/O Keynote. Android Q has made changes in UI by adding a Dark Mode and improving navigational gestures.

 

Which phones have access to Android Q Beta v3?

There are 21 phones which can access the 3rd Beta of Android Q. These phones are:

  • Asus Zenfone 5z
  • Essential PH-1
  • HMD Global Nokia
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • LG G8
  • OnePlus OP 6T
  • Oppo Reno
  • Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
  • Realme 3 Pro
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
  • Tecno Spark 3 Pro
  • Vivo X27, NEX S, NEX A
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Mi 9

 

The installation process for the new OS is fairly easy, however if you wish to resort back to Android 9 Pie then you will need to reformat your phone. If you do update your phone to Android Q then it is very important to back up your device. The initial back up may take some time, but if there are any issues with Android Q and you need to revert back to Android 9 then you will be happy that all of your information is safely backed up and ready to access on re-installation.

 

DARK THEME

Google have announced Dark Theme. Dark theme is accessible from the quick setting menu when you pull down the menu tab. It is then a case of pressing a button, which turns the interface from white to black. Instead of using a dark grey seen in previous dark modes, Android Q uses true black which will help aid battery life. Alongside this, activating a power saving mode automatically turns on the Dark Theme feature.

 

NAVIGATIONAL GESTURES

In Android Q, there’s a long, thin white bar on the bottom of the screen. With some similarities to the current iPhone gestures, you drag up to go home, drag up and across to access the

multitasking view. To switch between apps quickly you can swipe left or right on the white bar. Unlike the iPhone, to go back on Q, you drag inwards from the left or right edge of the screen. A small “<” appears on the side of the screen to show you have initialized a gesture to go back. These gestures are also like how Huawei have developed gestures on their own EMUI.

One problem when swiping from the left to go back, is that some apps have a menu draw. Swiping left would open the app draw however, developers would have the option of choosing whether the first left swipe would open the draw or go back to a previous page.

 

NOTIFICATIONS

The main change to notifications in Q is a new way to auto reply to incoming messages and chats. Android Q can recommend replies based on the contents of the message you have received. For example, if someone texts you an address, you can hit a quick reply button which will send a response such as, “see you there” or another button which will launch Google maps, locating the address which has been received in the message. Google has been careful to point out that all the information is processed locally, meaning nothing is transmitted through the cloud.

 

PARENTAL CONTROLS AND FOCUS MODE

Last year Google introduced a dashboard which allow users to monitor usage of certain apps and allows users to set limits on them. With this Google also introduced a Wind Down mode, this mode turns your screen gray to remind you to get off your phone and go to bed.

During this year’s I/O, Google revealed that they are expanding on their “Digital Wellbeing” features by integrating parental controls in the same section of your usage settings.

Google have also released a new feature called “Focus Mode”. This mode allows you to select certain apps that you find distracting and when toggled on, you cannot launch the apps and notifications from selected apps do not appear.

 

LIVE CAPTION

Live Caption lets you get real time transcription of what is being said in any video/ audio, in any app across the entire Operating System. It uses local machine learning so nothing is sent through the cloud, meaning an internet connection is not required to use the feature. After toggling it on through the accessibility settings, it can then be accessed under the volume bar when adjusting volume levels. Once activated, a black box appears on the screen and starts providing captions. The lag is no longer than a couple of seconds. The box can be moved, enlarged and the font size can be adjusted accordingly.

This feature works whether the volume is turned off or is at its maximum level. Unfortunately, the feature is only available in English to start with, however Google hopes to add more languages in the future.

 

UPDATES

Each year Google tries something new to allow updates for Android to be released faster and more consistently. There are two main types of Android OS updates: firstly, the major updates which are associated to dessert names such as Oreo and Pie (Android 8 and Android 9 respectively), with smaller monthly updates providing security patches. However, the smaller monthly patches do not reach enough phones as each manufacturer needs to apply and distribute the updates to each phone.

To avoid delays with and security patches Google have created a new initiative called “Project Mainline”. To release the patches more consistently they will be distributing the updates using the Google Play Store infrastructure. This is an attempt to cut out the middlemen who have slowed things down in the past.

Project Mainline is very limited in what it can update, with an emphasis on security. With the initial release of Project Mainline, Google is focusing on 14 “modules” of the OS that can be updated directly. The modules that Project Mainline will be updating are not user-facing and will be updated by an APK file download for the most part, with a couple requiring a new system called APEX.

One thing to note with Project Mainline is that the feature will not be available on phones which have been upgraded from Android 9 Pie to Android 10 Q. Instead it will be available on phones that ship with Q by default. Lastly, some manufacturers have the option to opt out of some of these updates.

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