The first Android Q beta is now available to download and test on all the Pixel phones Google released so far, including the first-gen Pixel phones, which Google is still supporting “by popular demand.” A report a few days ago said Android Q would be available on even more non-Pixel handsets than Android P, but that’s probably an announcement that’s coming down the road.
For the time being, you’ll need a Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel or Pixel XL to get the beta. Android Q Beta 1 isn’t available only for developers. All you have to do is head over to this link to sign up for the beta program, or download the appropriate Android Q version manually at this link.
Google’s VP of Engineering Dave Burke penned a blog post on the Developers Blog that lists the highlights of Android Q.
Beta 1 focuses on improving user privacy and security, which includes preventing “more control over location.” Google, of course, has its own location-related issues to deal with, and limiting access to location data on Android might be a good way to start.
Android Q will also prevent apps from accessing shared files unless you want them to, which means you’ll be able to control the way apps access photos, videos, and other data. You’ll also be able to control what download files an app can access.
Other privacy-related improvements concern access to non-resettable device identifiers (IMEI, serial numbers, and others). The MAC address will also be randomized by default when connecting to a different Wi-Fi network. Support for WPA3 and Enhanced Open are also coming to Android Q to improve wireless data security.
Android Q will also bring official support to a new form factor, foldable devices, which is excellent news for fans of the new smartphone form factors because it means Google is actively optimizing app experiences on smartphones with foldable screens.
Beta 1 will deliver a new Sharing Shortcuts feature that will let the user share content with someone in another app. The Sharing Shortcuts mechanism is similar to the way App Shortcuts work.
Apps will also have access to a quick settings panel that will include all the settings a user would need to update before using an app. Google offers a browser app as an example, which would have a settings panel that includes items like Airplane Mode, WI-Fi, and Mobile Data.
Camera apps are also getting a new dynamic depth format in Android Q, which will let developers offer various ways of blurring photos and creating bokeh effects on supported devices. The new tool will combine JPEG and Dynamic Depth data and could be used for 3D and AR photography.
Android Q will also deliver better graphics, making Vulkan 1.1 mandatory for all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher. Android Q is also adding “experimental support” for ANGLE on top of Vulkan, which is “a graphics abstraction layer designed for high-performance OpenGL compatibility across implementations.” Support for OpenGL ES 2.0 is also included in Android Q.
The new operating system will bring other optimizations and upgrades under the hood, including support for Neural Network API (NNAPI) 1.2, improved ART performance for faster app launches, and support for TLS 1.3 security for apps.
Google is expanding support for passive authentication methods such as face in Android Q, but there’s no 3D face recognition support mentioned.
Burke also explains in the blog post that developers will have to move their apps to public APIs, and that Google is expanding its “efforts to have all apps take full advantage of the security and performance features in the latest version of Android,” which means Google Play will require apps to target Android 9 Pie in new apps and updates. Finally, Google Play will need 64-bit support in all apps later this year.