By RAYMOND WONG
Like clockwork, Google’s released the first beta version of its mobile operating system, Android Q, for developers. The new version of Android is available to download for all Google Pixel owners — that’s for Pixel 1, 2, and 3 — and includes a number of updates ranging from improved security to with the most notable being support for foldable devices.
One of the biggest issues facing foldable devices is how Android will adapt to the various modes when folded and unfolded. Different devices will have have different display configurations and it’s important Android can morph appropriately.
Google says Android Q comes with several optimizations to help better display apps on foldable devices and large screens. An updated Android Emulator also lets developers start testing their apps for foldable displays even without a foldable device on hand.
Portrait photos are all the rage these days, and in Android Q, Google’s taking them to another level with a feature called “dynamic depth.”
Using the depth map data collected from a camera, which include information for an isolated background and foreground, Google says apps will be able to create “specialized blurs and bokeh options.”
This is pretty neat and resembles what you can simulate with an app like Focos, which lets you change the shape of the bokeh from a circle to, say, a star, or triangle, or heart.
Android Q also makes sharing content faster. There’s a new Sharing Shortcuts feature that “let users jump directly into another app to share content.”
There’s also a host of other less visible under-the-hood updates to Android Q including a new settings panel that can be activated from within certain apps. For example, Chrome could show shortcut buttons for adjusting settings like WiFi, airplane mode, and data without you needing to go into the Settings app.
New Wifi modes have been added to benefit certain applications like gaming. Google says users will be able to toggle on a “low latency mode” which would be beneficial for “real-time-gaming” and “active voice calls.”
Android Q also comes with hardened privacy protections that’ll give users more control over when apps access their location; you can choose to only let an app access your location when it’s in use as opposed to always or never. Similarly, there are better controls to keep tabs on what files (i.e. photos, videos, audio, etc.) apps are requesting access to.
There’s a ton more of screw tightening in Android Q, including support for a AV1 video codec that aims to improve high-res video while using less bandwidth, improved Vulkan support for better game graphics, and faster ART runtimes for speedier startups in various apps. You can read about all of the updates in the first beta for Android Q on the Android Developers Blog.
There are two ways to test Android Q on your Pixel, and both are pretty easy. The first is to enroll your Pixel in the Android beta program and get the update pushed to it over the air.
Android Q is a beta and as such, it’s likely buggy. As always, update at your own risk. We advise updating a device that isn’t your primary one to prevent any potential data loss if you’re eager to try Android Q.
Now, for the most important question: What does the Q in Android Q stand for? Quiche, maybe?