Google makes Android Q developer beta available to Pixel phones

The next-gen version of Android supports foldable screens and offers enhanced privacy controls

Google has released its first official preview of Android Q for developers, making it available in a beta version. This follows the pattern that has emerged with the last few builds of Android where an early look arrives in the first part of the year well ahead of general release.

In an interesting twist, the Android Q beta is being offered up to all three generations of the Pixel phones. Some had anticipated that Google might try to provide the build to its flagship phones, but the general expectation was that it would only be the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 line getting the beta.

As is the case with previews, this is a build designed for developers so they can begin to prepare their apps and games. It’s also a chance to leverage anything new that’s introduced in Android. In other words, it’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that end users won’t immediately recognize.

Google indicates that Android Q will bring some interesting changes such as better privacy controls and native support for foldable phones. Given the trend of the day is to go explore with devices that fold, Google is making it easier for developers to work with the tech.

Privacy Over All

One of the key changes in Android Q is additional privacy settings for location access. Instead of allowing apps to pull in location data at pretty much any given time, the new option lets users define whether it can be always shared, never shared, and somewhere in between. Similarly, Google is putting new restrictions on the access that apps have for things like audio, video, and photos.

The Future is Foldable

The Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X will arrive later this year as two of the first Android phones with folding screens. Until now, both companies had to code things internally and make the experience work with its unique hardware. This won’t be so hard for future generations.

Google is building in support for foldable displays so developers can tap into the larger, or split-screen layout. The Android Q beta is the first chance for developers to get their apps ready for the future of phones.

Settings Panel

Ever try to pair a phone to a Bluetooth speaker? Chances are good that you had to back out to the settings screen to toggle on Bluetooth or search for the accessory. Even when you have an app from the OEM, it’s likely you had to access device settings somewhere along the way. The same goes when adding something that requires Wi-Fi or NFC.

Android Q makes it much easier for users to toggle settings when they’re needed. The beta includes a Settings Panel API which lets developers offer instant, pop-up access to the relevant device settings.

Fixing Shares

As much as we like the way Android lets us share to and from so many apps and services, it’s slow and tedious. This Android Q candidate allows for developers to pre-publish how their apps handle sharing, letting the share UI load instantly instead of building on the fly. It’s small, and may not be noticed by all users, but it will be appreciated by those who do.

What Else?

As indicated before, the Android Q beta doesn’t do a lot on the surface and it will be some time before we get to see and feel the final things as users. With that said, there are a few other details included such as Dynamic Depth which makes it easier for third-party apps to offer bokeh and specialized blur effects. Moreover, Android Q gains support for AV1 video codec, which should lead to improved streaming quality with less bandwidth.

A formal name for Q?

When it comes to a formal name, we still don’t know what Google plans to do with its Q build of Android. There’s nothing in the code yet that indicates where Google is heading so it’s hard to say which sweet, snack, or dessert it has in mind.

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