Google account information and settings have been placed front and center in Android Q Beta 2, tucked neatly behind the user's profile image in a Chrome-like circle shape at the top-right of the search bar in the Settings application, reports indicate.
A tap on the new icon surfaces a new UI housing a variety of options but the first thing users will see is their profile image, associated name and email address, and a drop-down menu for switching accounts. A rounded "Manage your Google Account" Button sits just below that for accessing the tools previously found in the "Google" subheading of the Settings app.
Just under that are sections titled "Device info" -- with the model name and phone number -- as well as "Emergency info," "Payments," and "Google Account." Like the button nearer the top of the UI, the latter option takes users to their account management page while the other sections similarly lead to adjustment options implied by their respective titles.
A tap on the "Device info" title now leads to a page with detailed device information, previously found in Android under the "System" subheading.
What else is new?
A smaller change spotted in the latest update to the settings menu can be found under the menu detailing information about the Android build itself. Google has stepped away from the card-style pop-up highlighting the Android version, patch level, and other such information to include it all on a cleaner-looking page format. That's the same layout used on other informational settings pages in Android, with an "Android version" title at the top coupled with search and help icons.
As noted above, that's hidden under the "Device details" title of the newly added user and Google account settings UI.
Rounding out other alterations in the new release, that tweak is relatively slight. Android Q Beta 2 also incorporates system-level interactive chat bubbles on top of an option to switch notification panel swipes to be completed in opposing directions instead of users only being able to swipe right to remove those. The side panel-based volume slider's settings button now opens up a full-fledged panel for volume sliders along the lower portion of the display.
Minor adjustments have been made to the battery UI in the notification panel too.
On the other end of the screen, Google has incorporated iOS-like navigation gestures for multi-tasking between recently used apps atop of the existing recent apps UI. That allows users to swipe to access the most recently used application and to continue swiping through those that are still open. A swipe back in the other direction moves through the apps the same way but in reverse.
Implications for Android itself and personal preference
The addition of a Chrome-like circular profile picture to the settings menu as a means to access Google profile details and account settings has a two-fold impact. The obvious of those is the appearance that Google wants to make its services and accounts more well-integrated with Android.
That's an approach that's presented Google with problems in the past due to anti-trust and anti-competition rulings in the EU and elsewhere though so it may not be the underlying reason for the change. Instead, it may be a move intended to simply make the details of the account prominent and discovery of underlying settings easier.
One of Google's focal points over the past several months and with Android Pie has been helping users maintain a high level of privacy, in the context of what is made available to both Google and third-parties. That stacks on top of its secondary focus on helping users spend less time staring at their screens. Moving the details and account settings to the top of the page could feasibly help users address both concerns -- placing privacy and data settings just a couple of clicks away without the need for swipes or searching.