Google I/O 2019: All you need to know about the new features coming to Android Q
Moving into the Beta 3 version of its development cycle, Android Q saw several updates announced at the Google I/O 2019 developer conference. With Android Q, Google has reached the tenth iteration of Android with over 2.5 billion active devices spread all across the world.
Native support for foldable devices
At the keynote, Google said that foldable devices are going to be a big thing this year. Multiple manufacturers have been working on building foldable devices since the past year and we will see more such devices making their way into the market.
Android Q is said to be optimised for these devices and scale according to the screen dimensions. Multi-tasking is going to be huge and supporting different configurations could have been a challenge without native support from the operating system. This also includes being able to seamlessly continue using apps when the screens are folded or unfolded.
Smart Reply and Smart Suggestions integration
Continuing Google’s on-device machine learning features, Smart Reply has now been integrated into the notification system of Android. This means all the messaging apps will be able to take advantage of Smart Reply henceforth.
Smart Suggestions was another helpful feature that automatically detected the content in the text and accordingly suggested the relevant actions. For example, if a user copied a contact number and highlighted it, it would give them the option to directly make a call. The same feature has now been integrated with Smart Reply in the notification menu. So, if someone sends an address over a messaging app, Smart Reply will be able to detect that it’s an address and suggest the user to open it directly on Google Maps.
Among the most interesting features that wow-ed the audience at the conference was Live Caption. Falling under Google’s on-device machine learning products, Live Caption will automatically generate captions for any kind of video playing on the device. It can be a video call, podcast, voice message or a video playing on YouTube. The feature will be activated as soon as the device will detect any kind of speech. Google collaborated with the Deaf community to build this feature making technology more accessible to them.
To view the captions, all the user needs to do is tap on the Live Caption button that appears below the volume level menu. And the best part, users won’t need an active internet connection to generate the captions since all of it is done within the device. This also makes it more secure since none of the data will be leaving the device.
New features in Digital Wellbeing
Digital Wellbeing was launched last year with Android Pie to allow users to control and monitor their screen time. Google is further adding a new feature called Focus Mode. It will enable users to pause and temporarily disable few apps that can be distracting in this mode. Users won’t be able to open these apps when the mode is enabled.
Google stated that the average age of kids getting phones is eight in the US. While that’s just a fact, Android will be getting more parental control under Family Link which is going to be integrated into Digital Wellbeing.
Apart from the major updates announced for Beta 3, there were a couple of other tiny updates. Android Q will be the first operating system to support 5G connectivity. This means Android Q will provide tools to developers to build apps supporting 5G to implement blazing fast connectivity in all kinds of applications, whether it’s gaming or augmented reality.
System-wide Dark Theme
Finally, system-wide dark theme is making its way to Android Q. It can be easily toggled from the Quick Settings menu. This mode will prove highly beneficial to devices using OLED screens, ending up saving a lot of battery. The Dark theme will also automatically be enabled when the battery saver is switched on, automatically or manually.
Updated gesture-based navigation
New gestures are also coming to Android. A thin white bar on the bottom of the screen allows users to navigate into the app drawer from the home screen. To go back to the home screen, users have to swipe up again, whether it’s from the app drawer or from an app. If the user wants to switch between previously used apps, they will need to quickly swipe from the bottom. Whereas dragging from the bottom slowly will lead them into the multitasking view.
Google is upgrading the way the back button works. So, if the user wishes to go back, they will need to swipe from either the left or right edge of the display. The swipe gesture will work all across the edge of the display.
Focus on security and privacy
With Google Plat Protect running on all Android devices, it scans over 50 billion apps every day. The company claims that Android consists of the “most widely-deployed security and anti-malware service of any operating system today.” It’s introducing about 50 features and changes around security and privacy. A new ‘Privacy’ section has been added to Settings in Android, giving more control over location data and permissions. It will also send users reminders whenever an app uses location data and allow them to choose whether they want to or not.
Google also announced Project Mainline, a new security update delivery mechanism where the latest patches will be sent to users using the Play Store. This will ensure that security updates are sent to devices sooner than the conventional method. However, only some of the security updates using this method.
Most of the above-mentioned features will be making its way into the Android Q Beta 3 update. Some of them are already live and it’s available across 21 devices from 13 brands including all the Pixel phones.
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