Google has officially released the first beta build of the Android Q, which will be the next version of its operating system. Dave Burke, VP of Engineering, Google, has put out a detailed blog post that is aimed at having the developers be aware of the key features of Android Q.
For users, Google has focused on additional privacy and security, while app developers are allowed to take advantage of camera features like depth mode to offer more 3D filters, customizable bokeh filters, etc. Android Q will also offer faster app startup.
Beta 1 for Android Q is available for early adopters and there is a preview SDK for developers. Any Google Pixel device is eligible to be enrolled in the Android Q beta programme, including the first-gen Pixel and Pixel XL. According to Google, the support has been extended to those models because of popular demands.
Google will reveal the final build of Android Q at Google I/O in May. Here is a quick look at everything new in Android Q.
In the blog post, Google has talked about how Android has been developed keeping security and privacy at the core along with OS controls, file-based encryption, Google Play Protect, and more. Android Q sees some enhancements in privacy and security aspects to protect users, and many of the upgrades are to Google’s Project Strobe. Under the project, Google reviews third-party developer access, including apps like Facebook and TrueCaller, to Google account and Android device data.
With Android Q, Google has introduced new runtime permissions that will allow users to control an apps’ access to photos, videos or audio collections.
Just like Apple iOS, Android Q will let users decide whether they want a particular app to access their location. The three options will be when the app is in use (running), all the time (when the app is in the background) or never. The apps that have access to the downloaded files will have to go through the system file picker, with the Android Q. The new OS will also prevent any background app from launching an activity unless it is important, such as alarms or an incoming call.
Anroid Q and foldable phones
Android Q will also be customized to work with foldable phones, given that Samsung and Huawei have released their foldable devices. Google says that it has made improvements to help app developers take advantage of these foldable devices and other large-screen devices.
Google has also changed how the resizeable Activity manifest attribute works to help developers manage how their app shows on foldable devices.
Sharing shortcut in Android Q
Google has said that it will make sharing photos, videos and other data with someone in another app easier and faster for users. Sharing Shortcuts will let users jump directly into another app to share content.
Settings Panels in Android Q
Android Q will have a new Settings Panel API for developers to take advantage of. This will allow developers to show key systems directly inside their app.
The Settings Panel is a floating interface that can be triggered by third-party apps to show system settings that users might need, such as internet connectivity, NFC or audio volume.
The post one such use of this as an example: a browser displaying a panel with connectivity settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi (including nearby networks), and Mobile Data. Users will have the advantage to manage relevant settings without going out of the app.
Connectivity in Android Q
Google says that it will improve privacy and security of Bluetooth, Cellular, and WiFi, by requiring apps to rely on the FINE location permission, instead of the COARSE location permission. The FINE location permission provides better and more accurate location as it gives permission for both GPS and Network provider location. COARSE, on the other hand, only uses the network provider location.
Android Q will also add support for new Wi-Fi standard support, WPA3 and Enhanced Open, to improve security for home and work networks as well as open/public networks. It will also improve peer-to-peer and internet connectivity, which will help in managing IoT devices and suggesting internet connections. Location permission will not be required to do this.
With Android Q, app developers will be able to request adaptive Wi-Fi by enabling high performance and low latency modes
Imaging, audio, and video in Android Q
Google says that Android Q will allow apps to request access to the Dynamic Depth image, which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata that is related to depth related elements. This setting will help developers to provide their specialized blurs and bokeh options in their app, says Google. The data can also be used to create 3D images or support AR photography. Google says that it will make Dynamic Depth an open format for the ecosystem.
Android Q will also bring support for open source video codec AV1, enabling users to stream high-quality videos content using less bandwidth. Android Q also brings HDR10+ support for high dynamic range video on devices that which offer this kind of recording.
Gaming on Android Q
Google will be adding “experimental support for ANGLE on top of Vulkan on Android devices.” Vulkan is an Android specific API for high performance and 3D graphics. “ANGLE is a graphics abstraction layer designed for high-performance OpenGL compatibility” and it will let more apps and games using OpenGL take “advantage of the performance and stability of Vulkan,” according to the blog post.
The “goal is to make Vulkan on Android a broadly supported and consistent developer API for graphics,” says Google. It will also require that device manufacturers make Vulkan 1.1 a requirement on all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher.
Before the official build for Android Q is out, there will be six betas in total which will span over five months with the final release happening sometime in Q3 this year. The first four betas will be for testing while betas 5 & 6 are intended release candidates, which are the final beta versions of the completed software update.
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