As expected, the bigwigs in Mountain View rolled out the third beta of Android Q at Google I/O 2019, giving us a broader view of what the next major version of Android will bring to the table. We still do not know what exactly it will be called—Queen of Puddings, perhaps?—but here are some of the more notable additions introduced in the latest beta.
To begin with, Google said it's been focusing on three themes, those being innovation, security and privacy, and digital well being.
"We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology—5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more—while making sure users' security, privacy, and well being are always a top priority," Google stated in a blog post.
In terms of privacy, Google added a feature to the Android Q Beta 3 called Scoped Storage. This gives users control over files and prevents apps from accessing sensitive user app data. Somewhat related, the latest beta build restricts app launches from the background, which prevents them from unexpectedly jumping into the foreground and taking over focus.
"In Beta 3, we're transitioning from toast warnings to actually blocking these launches," Google says.
The newest Android build also limits access to non-resettable device identifiers. These include the device IMEI, serial number, and other similar identifiers.
On the security front, Google extended its BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support biometrics on a system level.
"We're extending support for passive authentication methods such as face, and we’ve added implicit and explicit authentication flows. In the explicit flow, the user must explicitly confirm the transaction. The new implicit flow is designed for a lighter-weight alternative for transactions with passive authentication, and there’s no need for users to explicitly confirm," Google explains.
One of the more interesting additions is support for folding phones. This is an emerging category, one that has been met with bumps in the road, at least for Samsung with its initial batch of Galaxy Fold devices. Nevertheless, Google optimized the Android Q to ensure seamless screen continuity on such devices.
Looking ahead, 5G connectivity will be a big part of cellular life in the future—near future for larger cities, and further down the road for other areas. Android Q adds platform support for 5G, and extends APIs to help developers transform their apps for 5G. What exactly does that mean?
"You can use connectivity APIs to detect if the device has a high bandwidth connection and check whether the connection is metered. With these your apps and games can tailor rich, immersive experiences to users over 5G," Google says.
In terms of usability and aesthetics, Android Q introduces both a Focus Mode that lets you pick and silence apps that might distract you from the task at hand, and a new system wide dark theme, which can be found by going to Settings > Display. Turing on Battery Saver also initiates dark mode. It will be interesting to see if this improves battery life, and to what extent.
Hit the link in the Via field below for an even bigger list of new features, both large and small. And if you own a Pixel device, head here to here to enroll it in Google's beta program for an early look at Android Q. It's not yet clear when a final version of Android Q will be ready for a mass roll out.