While initial predictions on the matter didn't pan out, it still didn't take long for Google to debut the first developer preview of Android Q after media reports suggesting the launch is imminent began emerging on Monday.
As expected, the experimental build can be accessed through the company's Android Q Beta program which is accepting enrollments as of right now and imposes no limitations on the number of participants; anyone interested in trying out the new version of Google's omnipresent operating system is free to do so.
With that said and despite the fact that the name of the initiative specifically mentions "Beta" software, initial developer previews of major Android upgrades have traditionally been more akin to alpha builds, so this premier version of Android Q is first and foremost aimed at developers who want to check out what Google has been working on in order to prepare for optimizing their apps early on.
Even though the original Pixel-series devices released in 2016 came with no promise of Android Q, Google is still supporting them with this latest version of the firmware, though this is almost certainly the last year it's doing so. Owners of eligible devices are able to manually flash Android Q system images which are now also available for download from Google's servers.
Android Emulator for desktops can also be used for testing the build; simply open the SDK Manager in Android Studio and download the latest version of the software. 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. Alphabet's subsidiary is maintaining separate lists of reported app compatibility problems, third-party SDK deficiencies, and general platform issues.
The initial version of Android Q comes with support for foldable phones and will be updated with new features in the coming months. This year saw Google drop its established practice of "developer previews," though that move appears to be primarily symbolic as in practice, this experimental phase will be mostly identical to those from previous years. In other words, expect a handful of new builds to be released in the coming months, with support for third-party devices almost certainly coming as part of this year's Google I/O conference which is running May 7 through 9.
Strengthened privacy controls are one of the most important additions introduced by Android Q and were possibly a relatively late addition to the software seeing how it wasn't until several months back that Google started facing more global scrutiny regarding the manner wherein it handles user data. However, after the Google+ fiasco and subsequent revelations about how invasive certain Android apps are, including those from Google itself, the company is now at the center of conversations about the erosion of privacy protections in its home country and is anticipating stronger regulations being imposed on its business in the near future.
While no firm roadmap has yet been provided, Android Q is likely to go through up to half a dozen beta builds before hitting the stable channel in late summer.