Google has just dropped the first beta for the next version of Android, which is simply known as Android Q. Google has not given it a version number or a name yet, which is pretty typical of Google. That will likely come later this summer.
The Android Q Beta 1 is going to be available for all Pixel smartphones, dating back to the original Pixel and Pixel XL that were released in 2016.
Foldable Support In Android Q
Android Q is bringing support for foldable devices, after having announced this support late last year. And with there already being three foldable smartphones announced, it's perfect timing for Google. The search giant says that it has made a number of improvements in Android Q, making it better suited for foldables. This includes onResume and onPause, which will support multi-resume and also notify your app when it has focus.
Google isn't releasing a lot of details in regards to support for foldables just yet. That will likely be coming at Google I/O when the second beta will drop.
Sharing is finally fast
For years, the sharing menu within Android has been very, very slow. Google has heard our feedback and said that it was working on revamping that menu. In Android Q, it has been revamped. Google says that the new Sharing Shortcuts will allow users to jump directly into an app and share content. Google also notes that developers can push share targets that will launch specific activities in their apps when content is attached – for instance, going straight to the new post screen in Instagram instead of simply opening the app.
It's much faster now, because Google isn't polling your device to see what and where it can share too. It is already done in the background, so it should be instant in Android Q. Even with these new share targets that developers are able to do, will still be quicker because they are published in advance.
Privacy is a big deal in Android Q
As it should be, privacy is a big focus in Android Q this time around. This includes giving users more control over location. In the past, the apps could only access your location once you gave it permission. But what about using it in the background? Android Q will limit that now. Users are able to give permission to never use your location, use it when it is running only, or all of the time.
Google is also making other privacy changes in Android Q, to ensure transparency. This will give users control over their data, and keep it secured. Android Q will allow users to control access to shared files. This is being done using new runtime permissions. When it comes to downloads, apps will have to use the system file picker, which will allow you to choose which files the app has access to.
In Android Q, access to non-resettable device identifiers will also be limited. This includes the device IMEI, serial number and similar identifiers. Google is also going to be randomizing the device's MAC address when it is connected to different WiFi networks by default. This was available in Android Pie, but as an option, not as a default.
Your Camera will get even better in Android Q
Google is also adding some new features to the camera – behind the scenes at least. Apps will be able to request a Dynamic Depth image, which uses JPEG, XMP metadata which is related to the the depth related elements and a depth and confidence map, all of this is embedded into the same file.
By requesting all of this information, it will make it possible to get specialized burs and bokeh options in your app. That data can also be used to create 3D images and AR photography in the future.
Google is adding new audio and video codecs in Android Q, which includes a new open source video codec AV1. This codec allows media providers to stream high quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. Ideal in developing countries, or in busy areas. Android Q also gets a new audio encoding codec, Opus, which is optimized for speech and music streaming. Finally, HDR10+ is also going to be supported fro high dynamic range video, on supported devices of course.
There is a lot that is new in Android Q, although a lot of it is going to be under-the-hood changes, as is usually the case with new versions of Android. Keep in mind that this is the first beta, and it's coming before Google I/O. Google will typically detail the next version of Android more at Google I/O when the second beta comes out.
Speaking of the beta, it is going to be available shortly, and you can sign up for it here. It is going to support the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which is a pretty big deal, considering the original Pixel smartphones were only guaranteed updates for two years.