From live captions to Dark Mode, here are 10 reasons why we’re excited about Android 10
Android 10 is likely coming to Pixel devices today and there are many features to be excited about. Google renamed Android Q to Android 10, which means no more dessert names. The final public beta 6 was released recently and now the company is ready to roll out the public and stable release, starting with the Pixel phones from today.
While Android 10 isn’t going to be a design overhaul, there are several changes coming to the UI along with many security and privacy updates. Here are some of the features that we are looking forward to checking out, in no particular order, on Android 10.
1. Native desktop mode
After the first public beta release of Android 10, XDA spotted a hidden desktop mode in the Developer Options. It supported resizable and multi-windows similar to what Samsung DeX offers. However, in a Reddit AMA, Google said that the desktop mode was currently only meant for app developers. “Previously there was no convenient way to test app behaviour on a secondary display and with freely resizable windows on stock Android. This feature is not productized on its own and is not meant for regular users at the moment,” the company clarified.
Currently, only Samsung has a fully functional desktop mode. Users can switch to DeX and use it as a desktop PC by connecting their supported device with a display. Since this feature is now officially available on the platform, other OEMs will be free to implement a working desktop mode into their mobile devices. In case you’re wondering what a desktop mode on Android would look like, developer Daniel Blandford played around with the module to create a working version of the desktop mode.
2. Live Caption
One of the most interesting features coming to Android 10 is Live Captions. Enabling this feature will allow users to automatically generate captions over any kind of video playing on the device including video calls, podcasts, voice messages, or videos playing on YouTube. A Live Caption button will appear in the volume menu whenever the device detects any kind of speech playing on the device. This feature is powered by Google’s on-device machine learning so you won’t require an active internet connection for this feature to work.
3. Smarter replies
Earlier, Google had rolled out the Smart Reply feature for its Messaging app, which would contextually suggest replies. In Android 10, Google is baking Smart Reply into the notification system so that any messaging app can take advantage of this feature.
Building on this feature, Smart Suggestions will now be integrated with Smart Reply into notifications. It would automatically detect the text and suggest a relevant action. Until now, selecting a number would give an option to call whereas selecting an address would give an option to open it in Google Maps. From Android 10, if someone sends you an address, you will either be able to select and send them a smart reply or open the address directly in Maps without even opening the text message.
4. System-wide Dark Mode
Dark mode is all the rage now for some reason. and it is officially going to be a system-wide feature in Android 10. It can be easily enabled from the Quick Settings panel or from the Settings menu. Dark mode can also be automatically enabled whenever the device goes into the Battery Saver mode. Google is said to be working on bringing back the feature to automatically enable dark mode based on the time of the day. The earlier iteration was buggy and the company wants to work on it to make it better but hasn’t confirmed its release. Google also confirmed that not only Android 10, but also a majority of its apps, will come with dark themes.
5. An updated gesture-based navigation system
Starting from Android 10, the bottom navigation bar is going to be replaced with a full-fledged gesture-based navigation system. Similar to how iOS works on the iPhone, users will have to swipe up from the bottom to go to the home screen and hold after swiping up slowly to open the multitasking view. To switch to the previous app, you have to quickly swipe up.
A thin white line on the bottom will give you access to the app drawer. Google is getting rid of the back button and henceforth, you have to swipe from either the right or left edge of the display to go back. It will work all across the edge of the screen.
6. Privacy and location permissions
At Google I/O 2019, the company revealed that it’s introducing about 50 features and changes around privacy and security. Android 10 will get its own Privacy section in the Settings menu to give users more control over location data and app permissions. You will receive a reminder whenever an app uses your location data and you will be able to choose whether you want to allow it all the time or only when you’re using it or not at all.
7. Project Mainline
Google is planning to improve the delivery mechanism of certain updates and make it more standardised with Project Mainline. This will allow the company to update certain libraries and packages to users via the Play Store. It will ensure that users will receive updates sooner than via the conventional upgrade method for the entire platform. For now, the Android Runtime (ART) module isn’t a part of Mainline yet since it’s complex to implement, according to Google. It also expressed a desire to support Mainline updates “for as long as possible.”
8. In-built screen recorder
Screen recorders can be handy when you want to give your friend or family a tutorial on how to use a certain app. Since third-party screen recorders already exist and some OEMs such as Huawei, OnePlus, Samsung, etc., also include them in their devices, Google wants to build something better. While the screen recorder in the Android 10 betas was quite basic, the full release could bring one that offers all the features one would need.
9. Basic theming options
Customisation is kind of limited once you leave the home screen and app drawer unless you root your device to install custom dynamic overlays. However, not all of them work properly and there’s limited support for all the devices. Android 10 has some basic theming options such as picking the accent colour across several colours. A ‘Pixel Theme’ app was also spotted which again indicates that Android 10 will get serious about theming options.
10. Native support for foldable devices
This last feature will probably be used by a tiny fringe of users who actually buy a foldable device. Android 10 will feature native support for foldable devices so that apps can scale according to the screen’s multiple dimensions. Multi-tasking will require multiple apps running on the screen and continue working when the device is folded. Native support in the OS will allow developers to seamlessly implement this scaling in apps.
Although Google said that foldable devices are going to be big this year, we only have a handful of manufacturers working on them, including Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi. Samsung had announced the Fold and Huawei showed the Mate X. The former got into a controversy after some review units started breaking and Samsung eventually recalled them. This led to Huawei also extending its release date to ensure the phone doesn’t go through the same problems with its foldable device. None of them are currently available in the market. Samsung and Huawei will likely release their upgraded foldable devices soon.
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