Beta builds for Android Q have been available for Pixel devices since a few months now, but Google has a lot more planned for the new version of its mobile software, which it revealed at its I/O developer conference last night. Android Q doesn’t have a name yet, but we do know that its beta can now be downloaded on 23 devices, including those made by OEMs like Xiaomi, Sony, Nokia, Oppo, Vivo and more. Pixel devices are of course part of the list as well. At the I/O 2019 keynote address, Google executives surprised us all with the new additions that will form part of the Android experience with Q in the latest beta. Let us give you a quick lowdown on what’s new with Android Q Beta 3.
This was the most attention-grabbing feature among them all. Live Caption allows your phone to create subtitles on the fly for whatever video you’re watching. The most innovative part about this is that it works completely offline and can create captions for offline videos as well. So if you’re watching a clip recorded on your own phone, and don’t want to disturb others with the sound, you can turn Live Captions on, and it will render whatever’s spoken in it in a neat tile that can be adjusted according to your liking. Unfortunately, Live Caption is English-only for now, but expect other languages to be added soon.
System-wide dark mode
Google acknowledged at the conference that a dark mode is one of the most requested features from Android users. It has hence introduced a system-wide dark theme with Android Q. It can be accessed through the quick actions menu, and will automatically get activated when the battery-saving mode is triggered. This dark theme will extend not just to the Android interface, but also to some Google-made apps like Maps, YouTube and more. Devices using OLED screens will benefit a lot from the battery-saving abilities of this mode.
Suggested actions within notifications
The Android Q beta has also been infused with auto-replies. When a notification for a messaging app arrives, it is accompanied by a set of recommended replies based on the context of the message. Now, Google has made it clear that this happens completely on-device, and none of the details from your messages are being sent to the cloud. Google demoed this feature by showing a message containing an address. Apart from two standard replies like “I can’t make it” and “Sure,” it also contained a third button for Google Maps, which allows you to directly open that address in the said app.
Focus Mode is sort of an extension of Do Not Disturb. It’s for times when you really want to study or concentrate on something without being disturbed by the notifications on your phones. This mode can be activated through the quick actions menu, and can be customized through the Digital Wellbeing section. These customisations allow you to pick the apps that you think might distract you, and silence them until Focus Mode is on. This feature will also be granted to Android 9.0 Pie users.
Another addition to the Settings menu is Family Link, a new set of controls to help parents monitor their kids’ mobile habits. Whenever a new Android phone is being set up for your kid, you can connect it to yours using Family Link. This allows you to set daily time limits for apps, view app usage times and review any new apps your child is trying to install. A device bedtime can also be set, to let the kids disconnect and get to sleep. A cool feature is Bonus Time, which allows you to give just a few more minutes to them if they’ve been good. Family Link is also headed to Android 9.0 Pie.
Location-based privacy additions
Privacy is a huge focus for Android Q, which has led to an important feature like this to have been introduced. It grants you more control over the situations when apps can get your location. Earlier, apps used to just ask for permission to use the location, to whcih you could reply yes or no. However, now, there are three options that are provided. You can say yes or no, or select the option that lets apps use your location only when they are in use. This is a great addition, since you can rest assured that no app is using your location behind your back.
Rebooting your phone after downloading Android updates is one hassle everyone wants to get rid of. While this won’t be gone completely, Project Mainline does take care of this problem to a certain extent. Big Android updates will still require reboots, but security patches and other small upgrades will no longer demand the same. They will get installed in the same way apps get updated via the Play Store. This is beneficial not just for users, but also for manufacturers, since it will allow them to optimise and secure key parts of the OS without the cost of a full system update.
Here’s the link to see whether your device is eligible for the Android Q beta download that’s live now. The final release of this software is coming this fall, and that’s also when we’ll get to see what interesting name it gets.