Android Q: Everything we know so far about Google’s next mobile OS

Android Q's second beta is now available — here's what's new

Android
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Android Pie may still be rolling out, but already we’re looking ahead to Android Q — and it could represent some significant changes to Android as a whole. While we have absolutely no idea what Android Q will be called, we do have an idea of what it may offer, thanks to the first Android Q beta, and the number of rumors and leaks that we’ve seen.

Here’s everything we know about Android Q so far.

Android Q’s second beta is now rolling out

Google announced the second developer beta for Android Q, and it brings with it some very interesting new features — like, for example, new ways to multitask. Like the previous beta, the new beta is available for all Google Pixel phones, so if you’re interested in using it and aren’t already signed up, check out our guide on how to get the beta.

Apart from the feature below, the second beta introduces a MicrophoneDirectionAPI, which allows apps to set the direction of the microphone when audio is being recorded.

Here’s a rundown of all the new features in Google next-gen mobile operating system.

Bubbles

google android q news bubblesGoogle has adopted a feature called “Bubbles,” which is built into the notification system. Bubbles essentially float on top of other content on the screen and allow you to quickly and easily do things like reply to messages. Bubbles are expandable when you want to use them, and collapsible when you don’t.

Better permissions controls

A number of permissions controls are getting revamped in Android 10 Q. Perhaps the most important is that in Android Q users will have better control over location data, with the ability to share location with apps “never,” “only when the app is open,” or “always.” It’s similar to what’s already available in iOS, but definitely a step forward.

Users will also get the ability to control access to shared files. In Android Q, apps will be required to use the system file picker, which will allow users to decide which files and photos apps can access, without giving apps access to all files.

Support for foldable phones

Android is quickly adopting the foldable phone trend. We already knew that Google was working on ways to natively support foldables in Android, and that support will come in Android 10 Q. Particular improvements come in the form of how apps resize and added support for multiple-display app switching.

Faster sharing

The sharing feature in Android has always been pretty slow and Google confirmed it was working on a way to change this a few months ago. In Android 10 Q, Google is adding “Sharing Shortcuts,” which will allow users to jump directly into an app to share content, like a file or photo. This way, users can avoid the slow-to-load sharing menu and get straight to sharing.

In-app settings panel

With Android 10 Q, users will be able to quickly and easily toggle settings that pertain to the app. The example Google gives is that users will be able to toggle things like Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity from within a web browser, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to navigate to the Settings menu. It makes accessing settings that little bit easier and should come in handy for developers, too.

Depth formats for photos

When a camera with multiple lenses takes a photo, that depth information is stored along with the photo itself — and in Android Q, apps will be able to request that information. What that means is that users will be able to edit things like bokeh and blur to a photo within different apps, which could come in handy with apps that have specialized photo editing features.

HDR10+ Support

Google is building support for HDR10+ straight into the Android operating system, meaning that you’ll get better-quality video capture no matter what app you’re using. On top of that, Android is getting support for the AV1 video codec, which will help allow media providers to stream higher quality video to Android phones.

Other changes

Android, in general, is set to get a little faster too. Google is continuing to expand Vulkan within Android and is strengthening ART performance, which should help apps load faster and use less memory once they have loaded.

Rumored changes

A number of rumors have popped up showing off new potential new features for Android Q. These changes aren’t certain yet — but Google normally keeps some features for the final version of the operating system, so it’s possible they’ll eventually be included.

No more back button?

It looks like Google will double down on gesture controls for Android Q. According to a report from XDA Developers, Google will do away with the years-old back button in Android, replacing it with a new gesture. To go back, you will simply need to drag the home pill button to the left a little — allowing you to quickly and easily go back.

While like the idea of the gesture, it may be a little complicated for some people to get used to.

Android Q Dark theme

According to a report from XDA Developers, which has its hands on a leaked build of Android Q, Android may soon get a system-wide Dark theme that can be accessed through the Display settings in Android. It seems as though you can schedule Dark mode depending on the time of day, or you can have it always on or always off. When enabled, all apps seem to have a dark gray tint to them, while panels like the Quick Settings shade have a black background. The Dark mode seems to work in most stock Google apps, but it may also work in third-party apps that don’t have their own Dark mode, according to the report.

There are plenty of reasons you might want a Dark mode. Apart from it being a bit easier on the eyes, dark mode could save battery on phones with OLED displays.

Revamp to Permissions on Android

Google could also completely change how Permissions work in Android, according to XDA Developers. Notably, the report shows that location permissions can be limited to “only while the app is in use,” something that iOS has had for some time. In the Settings menu, users will also be able to see a “Permissions usage” graphic, showing which permissions are being used at any given time.

Desktop mode

Stock Android could be getting a desktop mode similar to what Samsung offers with Samsung DeX — though we’re not quite sure just yet. XDA Developers notes that there’s a developer option called “force desktop mode,” which has a description that says “force experimental desktop mode on secondary displays.” XDA Developers wasn’t able to actually enable the feature, but the fact that it’s described could suggest that Google is working on it for Android Q.

XDA Developers found a number of other, smaller tweaks to Android Q. For example, there are a number of added Developer options for things support for freeform multi-windows, an option for “Game Update Package Preferences,” which allows you to select a graphics driver, and more.

We’ll update this article as we find out more about the upcoming Android Q.

Updated on April 3, 2019: The second Android Q beta is live.

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