Google announced the first Android Q beta on March 13, 2019, but only a handful of devices had access to the early build. The devices in question are all six Google Pixels, dating back to 2016 models. At the I/O 2019, more non-Google devices were added to Android Q beta, making it over 20 devices in the program, the biggest number to participate in the program to date.
At the moment, all we know is that the OS is called Android Q. The wait for the official name should go all the way to Q3 2019, which is when the stable version will be released to the public.
Android Q Features [continously updated]
As noted earlier, we’ve already interacted with Android Q beta. There are plenty of features we’ve encountered and we look forward to bumping into more features in the coming weeks, but these are by no means the final products. In fact, some features may be dropped while others may pop up by the time the final build arrives in Q3 2019.
That said, here are the new features that we’ve found in the latest Android Q beta build.
Better battery life management
In Android Q beta 3, you can choose when the battery saver mode turns off. Usually, the feature automatically turns on when the battery is at 15%, but this time the feature will also automatically turn off at 90% when enabled.
Digital Wellbeing gets focus mode and parental controls
Digital Wellbeing was one of the features that Android 9 Pie introduced and as expected, Android Q is here to make it even better. In beta 3, Digital Wellbeing now has Focus mode to allow users to temporarily disable apps they feel are distracting their current activity. This should come in handy for students when in class or even the working class when at work or in a meeting.
Additionally, Android Q also tags along a parental controls feature whose role is to do exactly that. Parents will be able to keep a close eye on how children use their phones by setting up things like daily limits and bedtimes. If they feel like the daily limit isn’t enough, children can request their parents for “bonus time” to keep using their phones.
New notification modes
In Android Q beta 3, gone is the option to snooze notifications and in comes “Interruptive” and “Gentle” notification modes. In the former, the notifications appear in the status bar, as heads-up notifications, and also make noise in case the ringer is turned on. As for the latter mode, notifications will only appear when you pull down the notification shade, but they won’t appear in the status bar or lock screen. Also, you won’t hear them coming in, that is, no sound or vibrations.
Vibration intensity options
Beginning with Android Q beta 3, you can now choose between several vibration intensity options. One can pick between “high”, “medium” and “low” intensity. Alternatively, you can turn off the vibration altogether.
You can make these tweaks via the Vibration settings found in Settings > Accessibility.
3-button navigation system is back
After ditching the 3-button navigation system in Android Pie and the initial Android Q builds, Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL users can now switch to this system in Android Q beta 3 going forward.
With this model, you have dedicated buttons for Home, Back, and switching between apps.
Android Q has a feature known as Live Caption that provides real-time captions locally to anything that someone is saying on your phone. It doesn’t need an internet connection to work, which is pretty cool.
Live Caption can be enabled via the Accessibility settings menu in Q.
Swipe from the sides to go back
Like EMUI 9 and MIUI 10, stock Android has gotten rid of the back button in favor of swipe gestures. The back button has been replaced by swiping action from the sides of the screen in what Google calls fully gestural navigation. This is the first time the back button is being ditched.
It doesn’t matter the side of the screen you swipe from, the result is the same. This means even left-handed chaps aren’t forgotten.
Faster, less terrible share menu
Android Q is improving the usually janky UI of the share menu, where the specific content being shared now appears at the top of the new share menu with the top-right corner housing the clipboard button. Right below is a list of the usual target apps followed by your other apps. Although cool tweaks, they don’t change the overall design of the share menu significantly.
Google wants to quicken the time taken to share stuff by implementing what are basically shortcuts, thus allowing apps to pre-set targets and instantly load when the share menu is invoked.
System-wide dark mode
We knew that Android Q was coming with a system-wide Night mode, but in the first beta build, things were not so straightforward. Although the dark mode existed in wider areas of the system, turning it on required users to jump through a hurdle or two. Beginning with Android Q beta 3, this is no more.
This time, turning Night mode on/off can be done via the Quick Settings menu. Even better is that you can force apps into dark mode by heading to Settings > System > Developer options > Override force dark.
Well, it’s very tricky, almost to the point that it is a shame to call that Android Q supports native screen recording, but that’s the fact. On Android Q, you can — maybe! — record your screen without any 3rd-party app.
It’s hidden like a treasure, but here’s how you find it, enable it, and use it.
First of all, go to developer options, now scroll down to find the ‘feature flags’ option (under debugging section). Tap on it, and now scroll down and find the settings_screenrecord_long_press option, and enable this option using the toggle button.
Now, press and hold the Power key to bring up the Power menu. On Power menu, tp and hold on the screenshot button. You will get a small screen recording pop-up. That’s it. Record a screen by hitting the ‘Start Recording’ button.
Easier access to system settings inside apps
When inside an app, you may feel the need to tweak something about this app, but usually, this forces you to leave the app and go to the Settings app to accomplish this task. In Android Q, you’ll be able to easily access settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and so on.
For instance, if the current task requires a Bluetooth connection and its turned off, you’ll be presented with a settings panel with an option to toggle Bluetooth on. All this is thanks to App slices feature that came as part of Android Pie, allowing contextually-relevant parts of apps to be displayed outside of these apps.
Smart replies for more apps
More Android Q apps now support smart replies. The feature has now been fully integrated into the notification system of Q. This is all thanks to on-device Machine Learning.
Screenshots now include rounded corners and notches
The notch became popular a year or so ago, but it never appeared in screenshots captured on a device with a notch or any other cutout for that matter. With Android Q, screenshots not only include notches, but also the rounded screen corners as well.
So far, we don’t know if this is a Pixel-exclusive feature and we won’t be able to know at least until non-Google devices join the Q beta program.
Theming option available in Android Q
Android Q supports theming the look of the OS to something that fits your needs. The option to do so isn’t directly accessible, though. To access it, go to the developer options in Advanced System settings menu. If not enabled, hit the build number in About phone several times to enable developer options.
Once you access it, theming lets you tweak the accent color, headline/body font, and shape of icons, which isn’t much, but a good direction, definitely.
Improved privacy with new access limits
Android Q, as has always been the case with every other Android OS iteration, beefs up user privacy by introducing more limits to activities. For instance, Android Q apps can only access location settings when in use and not when in the background.
Also, apps won’t be able to launch activities in the background without your consent. Android Q will also let users deactivate unique device IDs used for advertising purposes.
Swipe left on notification to show snooze controls
Android has always been the best with notifications and Android Q continues this with a little nifty addition. When you swipe left on notifications, snooze and block controls are revealed while swiping right dismisses the alert.
Dynamic depth format for photos
Android Q introduces the support for a special format for photos that brings out more depth information that can be used to apply specialized blurs and bokeh options, just to name but a few.
According to the Android Developers Blog, apps will request JPEG files with included depth metadata and a depth map that photo editing apps can use to create some cool effects on photos. This new format will in future be used for AR photography or to create 3D photos.
Estimated remaining battery now displays in quick settings shade
In Android Q, pulling down the notification shade reveals a nifty little addition, where you can easily see the amount time the remaining battery juice will last. But this requires that you have the battery percentage in the status bar turned on, which is a bit bizarre, but understandable considering this is the first beta.
Share and connect to Wi-Fi networks using QR codes
Android Q lets users share and connect to Wi-Fi networks using QR codes, something that should come in handy for those who always want to have strong Wi-Fi passwords but aren’t just into typing those characters. All you need to do now is to simply scan and you’re in.
Generating a QR code needs you to open your Wi-Fi settings and hit the currently connected network and the Share button will pull up the code, although authentication will still be needed using your lockscreen password or fingerprint before proceeding. To scan the code, tap the button to the right of the Add network option in the Wi-Fi settings.
What’s even better is that in Android Q beta 3, the password appears just below the QR code in plain text, making it even much easier to share your Wi-Fi network.
Unfortunately, this feature is still limited to Android Q devices.
Per-app grayscale settings
In Android Q, every app will include grayscale settings, meaning users will be able to set individual apps to display in grayscale. Unfortunately, this feature only exists on paper, so we can’t really tell how it works, but of course, it should arrive in a future Q beta build.
With Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing, users can already set the screen to display in grayscale with the help of Wind Down settings, thus making the phone less interesting to use. Apparently, Android Q will apply this feature to all apps.
Undo accidental home screen icon removals
If you are the type who accidentally removes icons from their home screen, Android Q has got your back. The beta version already lets users undo the accidental removal of icons on the screen.
Of worth to note is that this feature is limited to the Google Pixel launcher and not in third-party versions, but of course, we should start to see third-party apps like Nova Launcher begin to apply it.
Blurred lock screen background appears when music is playing
Usually, playing music on Android devices displays a lock screen background with the audio’s art. In Android Q, the background switches to a blurred image instead of showing the art of the playing audio file.
There seem to be more filters to how the background appears and it seems they are applied based on the colors of the artwork of the audio files being played.
New and better Files app
Stock Android has for years had one of the worst file managers, but the app has slowly been getting better with each Android OS iteration. With Android Q, Files has gotten even better, albeit with some interesting filters and updated material design.
The top of the screen has a search bar and just below it is a carousel of filters that ease the whole process of sorting data by file type. You also have the option to view files from third-party apps in a much better way than before, where they were buried in a hamburger menu.
Enhanced support for foldable phones
The support for display screens with various form factors has been around since Android Pie and with Android Q, things are getting better. Developers now have the tools to develop software that supports switching between various display types, that is, folding and unfolding.
Change default apps for call screening and emergency contact info apps
The good thing about Android is that it lets users change the default apps and with Android Q, you can further change the default call screening and emergency contact information apps.
Out of the box, Call screening is attached to the Phone app while the Emergency app takes care of emergency contact info, but users will be able to choose other third-party apps to take up the same roles.
Long-pressing notifications get more useful alerts
When you long-press on a notification in Android Q, unlike the previous OS, reveals more useful options that can be used to manage how the app in question alerts you in future. There is the option to “Block”, “Show silently”, or “Keep alerting”, an upgrade from “Stop notifications” and “Keep showing” in Pie.
Long-pressing a notification of an already silenced app reveals three options: “Block”, “Stay silent” or “Alert me.” And yes, the buttons are specific to the notification channel used by a certain app.
Native desktop mode
With the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung improved on DeX by eliminating the need for a separate dock in order to turn the device into a full-featured desktop, but unfortunately, the fact that this solution is centric to Samsung devices means that apps must be optimized specifically for DeX in order to work perfectly when in desktop mode.
With Android Q, Google is getting its act together by including native support for desktop mode, but since the feature is still experimental its currently hidden in the Developer Options menu under the “Force desktop mode” option.
Turn this option on and apps begin showing up in free-form windows on the connected display, but the status bar keeps its usual position at the top while navigation buttons are the bottom. Of course, this isn’t the desktop experience we expect, but we all know this is just the first developer preview. Also, the fact that the feature is still hidden in the developer options shows that it’s still far from the finished product we want.
Easily switch audio output for playing media
In Android Q, switching the audio output of playing media is a breeze. The Now Playing notifications have a new button for picking between the available audio output options, be if your phone speaker or maybe a connected Bluetooth speaker.
In Android Pie, this option is hidden in the Sound settings menu, which hasn’t always been easy to access.
There seem to be a few additions to the accessibility additions as well since the options for Time to take action and Time to read have been added.
The time to take action feature lets pick “how long to show messages that ask you to take action, but are only visible temporarily.” Whereas the time to read feature lets you pick “how much time you want to read and take action on messages that automatically go away.”
It is worth noting that not all apps support this setting and the app developers would have to add support for the feature to their apps.
Google may be moving towards Apple-style gesture controls
Check out this post for more details.
The stable version may let you remap the Active Edge to other AI apps
Cool huh! More details here.
These were the major changes spotted in the Android Q beta software and we do expect to see a lot more additions and changes as well. Once again, it’s worth noting that these features can be taken forward or removed with the next few Android Q builds and may or may not make their way over to the official stable Android Q build.
Given that the stable Android Q build is still a long way to come, we’ve created a table with some of the features that are still expected when the OS arrives in Q3 2019. As usual, some of them might materialize while others may not.
|Android Q feature||What it does|
|Car crash detection mode||Discovered in Android Q beta 3, it seems Google is working on a car crash detection mode that will “automatically launch an alert activity when the device detects you are in a car crash”. More on this here|
Enhanced face recognition
|Advanced native support for facial recognition feature|
WPA3 Wi-Fi standard
|Android Q may bring support for the new WPA3 Wi-Fi standard|
|No back button||Android Q may drop the dedicated back button and replace it with a swipe left gesture|
|New call blocking options||Users of Android Q will be able to block spam calls from unknown, private, pay phone, or numbers not in your contact list using the AOSP Phone app|
|Android Q will hand telcos much easier ways to SIM-lock phones||
Android Q will support carriers in locking down phones to their network via your SIM card. For dual-SIM phones, for instance, one must have a given carriers SIM card in slot 1 in order for slot 2 to work with any other networks SIM. More details here
|Improve protection of media files, block background clipboard reads, support downgrading apps to older versions, and more||
There is a long, detailed read about each of these features here
Automatically adds a given country’s code to a dialed number. Quite a handy feature for international travelers.
|Emoji 12.0 (Unicode 12.0)||
Adds emoji for a deaf person, emoji sequences for a couple holding hands, up to 55 skin tone and gender combinations, service animal vest changes to safety vest, new emoji characters for skunk, axe, a yawning face, kite, sloth, briefs, diving mask, onion, parachute, and more
Ability to connect to an external monitor and keep using both screens (phone/tablet and monitor) at the same time, much like Samsung is already doing with the Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4
|Manual Google Drive backups||
Back up files to Google Drive when on battery power or without Wi-Fi
|Vulkan API for UI rendering||
Depending on how this technology is implemented, the end result could be better battery life as well as smoother animations and menu transitions.
|Warning for users running apps whose target OS is Android Lollipop and older||
Android Q will warn users whenever they have an installed app that was developed to work on Android Lollipop or older operating systems.
|Prevent incoming call’s ringtone from playing over a held call||
When you put a call on hold and in the process, even before you get your phone off the ear, another call comes in, your eardrum might get blasted if the ringtone volume is really high. Android Q will have a feature that prevents your phone’s ringtone from playing for an incoming call just in case there’s another on hold. Cool huh!
This feature will allow Android Q users to run multiple apps simultaneously without pausing
|New APIs for RCS support in third-party apps||
Android Q may open RCS to third-party app developers via new system APIs
|Drop support for Android Beam||
Android Q may drop support for Android Beam APIs, a feature that lets users tap their phones together to share files, sites, photos, apps, and so on via NFC.
|Remove support for seamlessly setting up Live Cases||
Android Q will drop support for the feature that lets users seamlessly set up Live Cases
|Support ANGLE to make 2D game development easier||
Android Q will support ANGLE to make 2D game development easier. More details here.
|More devices to get early access||
Android Q may let more users test the OS using GSI ahead of official AOSP release
|Restricting background clipboard access||
This new addition would prevent applications from reading the clipboard while in the background. It would drastically improve the privacy on Android devices since we often copy usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information.
|Securing Files on External Storage||
A number of new external storage-related permissions in Android Q: Ability to read the locations from your media, ability to access music files, ability to access photos, ability to access videos.
|Background Location Access returns||
In the name of privacy, Google has made it super difficult for apps to have access to the location and apps were throttled or completely barred from having location access with Android Oreo and Pie; however, Google might be reversing the decision with Android Q.
Android Q beta stages
Google has released Android Q beta for its Pixel devices. If you have any one of the six Pixel phones currently available, then you can download the Android Q beta right away on your device. Google says there will be up to six beta releases before the stable version arrives in Q3 2019, following the timeline below.
Should you install Android Q beta?
Though we wouldn’t recommend installing Android Q beta just yet, there is nothing wrong with checking out the features that Google has included in the OS.
First of all, let’s not forget that it’s called developer preview for a reason. It’s meant for developers, and we should keep it that way. Second, installing Android Q system image requires a bootloader unlocked device. So, you have to unlock the bootloader of your device in order to install Android Q factory image via fastboot mode. This voids warranty.
So, if anything happens to your device, of which chances are more than ever when you run a not-fully-baked upcoming version of Android, you may damage your device and may not even have warranty coverage for it.
Third, the beta version, especially the first one, is not good enough for a daily driver. Hence, it should be avoided.
Android Q beta download
The easiest way to install Android Q is to ‘Opt in’ your Pixel handsets at the beta page here.
The next best way to install the Android Q update is to do it manually, by sideloading Android Q OTA.
Lastly, if you are okay with unlocking the bootloader and all, that results in voiding the warranty too, you may install a factory image using fastboot mode.
When will Android Q be released?
- Released as beta (DP1) for Pixel handsets
- May 2019 release for the public beta
- Stable version arrives in Q3, most probably August 2019
The last time Google announced a new version of Android OS earlier than August 6th was back in 2012 with respect to Android Jelly Bean. With Android Q, we don’t expect the search giant to relent on its approach to releasing the next version of its OS as early as possible, as seen in the official timeline below.
With this in mind, we expect to see the stable Android Q arriving in early August 2019, about the same time as Android 9 Pie’s release date.
Which dessert will Google pick for Android Q?
Now that Android Q DP1 is here, the question that’s on many enthusiasts’ minds is what dessert Google will pick for its next greatest version of Android. Honestly, there aren’t so many names that Google can pick from because, letter Q. The likes of Quesadilla, Quiche, and Quinoa are already emerging as fan favorites, but Google also has other options like Quail, Quesito, Qurabiya, Quaker Oats, Quenelle, Quinoa Pudding, and so on.
In short, let the guessing games begin, after all, right now what we know is what you know.
Will my device receive Android Q?
While some might be concerned about the name of the next version of Android Q, what others want to know is whether the OS will be released for their current devices.
Typically, all premium phones and a few midrangers receive two major OS upgrades in their lifetime, however, we recently saw OnePlus promising a third major OS upgrade for the OnePlus 3 and 3T and despite having gone past their Android OS support window, the OG Pixels are taking part in Android Q beta, the third major OS upgrade. Whether other OEMs will follow this pattern is still early to tell, but with the help of Google Project Treble, we could see a change in future – a future that has Android Q in it.
As to whether your current device will receive Android Q, you can only be sure of this if you own one of those premium smartphones that come preinstalled with Android Oreo, for instance, the Galaxy S9, LG G7, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S and so on. Even better is that anyone who owns a premium, midrange or even some budget phones that have Android 9 Pie pre-installed is guaranteed an update to Android Q. But of course, not all vendors are usually willing to update their budget phones to a newer OS.
What’s your favorite Android Q feature? And do you have a name for the dessert in mind?