Google announces Android Q: New features revealed in beta version

Google announces Android Q: New features revealed in beta version

There has been more pre-release buzz about the upcoming Android release than usual this year thanks to a leaked build of Android Q several weeks back.

For the time being, you'll need a Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel or Pixel XL to get the beta.

One potential problem, however, is that the change seems to affect any app running under Android Q, whether that app targets the version of Android or not. However, this is the first beta. Google is urging anyone who experiments with the software to send as much feedback as possible since that's the whole point of investing resources in offering early OS previews in the first place.

This time around as well Google has baked a number of feature flags in Android Q to give users access to features that are now under development. These aren't something normal users will ever use themselves, but you'll be glad they're there if and when you try out a foldable for yourself. They include the system-wide dark mode, although some phones may have issues implementing it at this stage. That effectively blocks apps from tracking you in the background. Apps will be able to request special JPEG metadata to create 3D depth maps using Google algorithms. So, you could get better portrait mode snaps.

Now playing: Watch this: Android Q preview: What's new in beta? Speaking of Wi-Fi, Google is adding new wireless technologies to manage IoT hardware via Wi-Fi. There will be a high-performance mode with low latency so that users can take advantage of stutter-free Wi-Fi connectivity while playing games, video and voice calls. The Sharing Shortcuts mechanism is similar to the way App Shortcuts work.

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The major barrier to testing the new version of Android is having the right phone in the first place. Things had changed with Android Pie (P, at the time) because new devices can access it (Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH-1).

Launching affordable devices under the Pixel 3 range will give Google access to more sales and exposure in price-sensitive markets.

The new OS comes in the form of Android Q Beta 1, which can be downloaded from android-developers.googleblog.com on Pixel smartphones. There are also system images and OTA files available for sideloading. Be warned: this is unstable beta software. Don't install it on your daily driver.

Visit google.com/android/beta to sign-up to the Android Beta Program.

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