Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
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Android Q Beta First Look!

Android Q Beta First Look!

Google has historically launched an initial beta for upcoming Android versions just ahead of its annual Google I/O Developers Conference - where more details and a wider beta are typically announced.

Some of the end user changes that have been discussed include warnings when a user is about to install an app from the Google Play Store that has been targeted for versions older than Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Of course, you'll need an eligible device in order to take part in the beta.

It's time to ready your apps for Android Q, developers.

As for what's coming in the future, Android Q also has the foldable tech into consideration. For a design like the Huawei Mate X, which sports a wraparound display, the phone's single display panel changes from a segmented "front" and "back" display in phone mode to one big display in tablet mode.

Android Q provides more support for passive authentication like face ID. Apps can also utilize a greyscale display mode. During that presentation, the feature was called "screen continuity". The update will be available to supported devices later this year.

New privacy security features.

Why should an app require access to your location even if you're not actively using it? What should Android Q be called? Android Q allows you to fine-tune control over location sharing; when an app asks for your location data, you can select "allow only while the app is in use" or "allow all the time". New runtime permissions will control app access to photos, videos, and audio collections; file access was previously an all-or-nothing affair.

Now, for the most important question: What does the Q in Android Q stand for?

The share menu in Android has been bad for a few versions now. Some of these are obvious, like compatibility features for foldable phones. This was slow, and it made the list jump around and add new icons while you were looking at it. That effectively blocks apps from tracking you in the background. The craziest thing? None of this information was saved.

Now, when you share something like a webpage link or a photo you've taken, the share menu looks a little different.

We've also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on foldable and large screens. Importantly, the blog post notes that because Sharing Shortcuts are published in advance, "the share UI can load instantly when launched". We'll have to investigate during our hands-on with the system. Vulkan 1.1, the low-level graphics API, is now a requirement for devices running Android Q or higher. So if you are using a ride share app you can let it track your location while it's in use, but forbid the app from learning your location data when not.

Developers can publish share targets that launch a specific activity in their apps with content attached, and these are shown to users in the share UI.
For now, we have some installing to do!

There are tons of other features in Android Q that we'll dive into in a hands-on report later.

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