Android Q Exposed: What We Know About Google's Next Mobile OS

If Google sticks to its past release cadence, we can expect the company to announce a developer preview of Android Q, the next major version of its mobile operating system, in March, followed by a public beta a couple of months later at its Google I/O convention. As those time periods draw closer, more details are starting to leak out about Android Q.

One of the things we are looking forward to the most is a system wide dark mode. This is something users have been asking for, and it was ultimately passed over in Android Pie. As it has been implemented in a leaked (and very early) build of Android Q, users will have the option of enabling it all of the time, or having dark mode come on automatically depending on the time of the day.

Android Q will also include provisions to restrict location permissions, making them only accessible while an app is in use. This offers more granular control over what is currently allowable in Android Pie, and importantly, it adds another layer of security and privacy to Android.

Another feature that was previously leaked is a new method for carriers to SIM-lock a smartphone. While not a foregone conclusion, a look at the early code suggests that a wireless carrier would be able to designate a list of allowed and blocked carriers, and also have controls to allow a phone to use a SIM card from the primary carrier while blocking MVNOs that operate on the same network.

All of this has been discussed before, but there are some new features to share that we previously did not know about. The folks at XDA Developers have their hands on an early build of Android Q, and they recently shared some of the new permissions they found in Android Q's framework.

To begin with, Android Q will block apps from accessing the clipboard in the background. As it stands, every app in Android can read your clipboard, which is potentially problematic—if you have ever copied sensitive information such as a username or password, the last thing you want is for an app to scrape that information on the sly.

Some of the newly discovered permissions also indicate that Android Q may make it easier to downgrade an app after an update. Why would you ever want to do that? Consider this scenario—an app you use frequently is working fine, then all of a sudden the developer pushes out an update that unintentionally breaks something. There is not much you can do about this currently, not unless you're willing to root your handset. In Android Q, however, you might be able to downgrade the app to the previous version.

Other permissions found in the early build suggest Android Q will introduce tighter controls for apps that access files on external storage, and be able to recognize physical activity. The latter is already available as part of Google Play Services, but adding the appropriate permission to Android Q means Google could be looking to decouple the feature from Play Services.

We expect to hear a lot more about Android Q in the coming weeks, culminating with a big reveal at Google I/O, which is scheduled to being on May 7 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.