At its I/O developer conference today, Google shared some more details about the next iteration of Android, the OS that is currently used on more than 2.5 billion active devices. It will be version 10, but the company hasn’t shared its final name. So for now, it’s Android 10 Q.
Android Q will arrive with support for foldable form factors, empowering them and the unique use cases they will enable, adapting to different screen dimensions and letting you pick up where you left off as you unfold the phone, with a feature called Screen Continuity. Unsurprisingly, Q will also come with 5G support built-in.
Live Caption is a new feature driven by on-device machine learning that does exactly what its name implies: it captions things, live. The Live Caption function works for any media that’s playing audio across the OS. Videos, podcasts, audio messages. As soon as speech is detected, captions will automagically appear. No internet connection required, no data ever leaves your phone.
Also powered by on-device machine learning is Smart Reply, which will seamlessly work for all messaging apps in Android Q, providing helpful suggestions for replies, but also actions. For example, if you get an address in a message you can tap on the notification to get to Maps directly, no need to open the messaging app beforehand. This also works with no info ever leaving the phone.
Dark theme is coming, and it will be turned on when you activate battery saver, or manually through a quick settings tile of its own.
Android Q includes almost 50 new features focused on security and privacy – the latter gets a top level placement in Settings even. There are tools for more transparency around location too, because it’s very personal info. So you get reminders for location usage if you’re not actively using the app that’s requesting your location. And you get fine grained control when granting the location permission, with three options: allow access all the time, only while using the app, or deny location access. Location is also at the forefront in Settings.
Some parts of the Android framework will be updated in the background without requiring a reboot. This will apparently enable faster security updates, but we’ll see. We’ve heard that so many times before, and yet most Android device makers are still insanely slow to roll these out – not to mention new Android versions. But oddly enough Google has stopped saying it’s going to make feature updates faster, and is now choosing to focus solely on security patches with this rhetoric.
Focus Mode is coming this fall to Android Q but also Android 9 Pie devices. This is meant to be used when you want to focus on getting things done without being constantly distracted by notifications. You’ll first select apps that you find distracting and then they’ll be disabled once you activate Focus Mode – until you deactivate it, of course.
Family Link parental controls will be included with every device that has the Digital Wellbeing features, starting with Android Q. When you set up a device for a child, Family Link connects it to your account and lets you review apps, set daily limits, view app time, and set a bedtime.
In Android Q, you’ll also be able to set time limits on specific apps, and give your kid a bonus phone use period before bedtime.
A new Android Q beta will be available today for 21 phones from 13 brands, including all of the Pixels.