Android Q is finally available in developer preview, and it’s a pretty significant update. Between privacy-related tweaks and long-overdue features, it’s clear that Google has been very busy.
So what are the standout Android Q features worth knowing? We’ve got you covered with our round-up! Do note that we’re focusing on features that are either confirmed by Google or don’t require any extra tweaks to use. For a running list of Android Q features, including additions buried in developer settings, you can check out our hub right here.
A better sharing menu
Many Android enthusiasts have criticized the platform’s sharing functionality for being slow and unintuitive. Fortunately, Google has overhauled this menu in Android Q.
The new sharing menu is meant to be much faster than the legacy menu, but it’s also supposed to do a better job of recommending contacts and apps for sharing. Time will tell whether Google indeed delivers on these goals, but third-party developers will also need to update their apps to take advantage of this tweak.
Quicker access to settings
It’s already super easy to toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other connectivity options, but Google is making this process a little easier when you’re in apps. Enter the settings panel…
This new popup window can be summoned by apps in certain situations. Google gives the example of launching a browser when in airplane mode. The browser can now tell users to activate Wi-Fi, then automatically summon the settings panel.
A standard depth format
Android Q also brings a new depth format, dubbed (surprise) the Dynamic Depth Format, and it opens the door for depth-editing in loads of third-party apps.
“Starting in Android Q, apps can request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support,” reads an excerpt of the Android Developers Blog.
Google also confirmed that the new format will let third-party apps tweak depth data to create “specialized blurs and bokeh options.” Hopefully, third-party developers embrace this new, Google-pushed standard.
Previews for more OEMs
Tired of Pixel users having all the fun when it comes to Android previews? It seems like Google felt the same way, as it opened Android Pie previews to a few third-party devices too. And it looks like the initiative will expand when Android Q gets pushed out.
Android engineer Iliyan Malchev told the Android Developers Backstage Podcast that more manufacturers will support the Android Q beta program. The developer confirmed that the number of participating OEMs was bigger for the upcoming release, but didn’t give any more details.
The likes of HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola and Samsung all missed out on Android P previews last year. So it stands to reason that at least one of these brands will jump aboard the bandwagon this time.
The news comes after a Google developer suggested to XDA last year that improvements to the GSI (generic system image) — a key component behind Project Treble — could result in more devices gaining access to Android previews. Additionally, the developer said there might be a way to test-drive the GSI (essentially a stock Android ROM) without flashing your phone.
A better files app
Google’s previous files app was a no-frills affair, and it didn’t even have a shortcut in the app drawer. Fortunately, the Android Q files app is a step above the previous version.
Not only does the new app have a shortcut, but it also offers a revised UI, a universal search bar at the top, and quick access to other apps. There’s still a chance Google could tweak this app before the final release, but it definitely looks more polished than the previous version.
Android Q also has plenty of privacy-related tweaks, with roles being one of the biggest additions in this regard. With roles, the platform can now automatically grant specific permissions to an app based on its use-case. So a text messaging app would automatically gain the ability to send/receive texts, as well as access to your contacts.
The other roles noted on Google’s support website include a music player, web browser, launcher, phone dialler, and gallery. But the Mountain View company says these roles and privileges might not be available in the final version.
Another major change is a tweak affecting location permissions. Now, users have the option to either grant location access in general to an app, or only allowing access when the app is actively being used.
Wi-Fi sharing via QR codes
Xiaomi and Huawei smartphones have allowed users to share Wi-Fi credentials via QR codes for a long time now. So we’re glad to see Google adopt this trend with the new Android update.
The feature is easy to use, as you tap on your Wi-Fi connection, hit the share button, then authenticate with your phone’s password or a fingerprint. From here, you should see a QR code, and your friend can scan this code to gain access. Again, it’s nothing new for third-party brands, but we’re happy Google is catching up in this regard.
That’s it for our look at the top Android Q features! We’ll be updating the article as Google reveals more big changes for the platform. Are there any more features you’d like to see in stock Android?
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