The next version of Android will launch this fall, and Google is barreling onward with betas in the meantime. The latest beta version of Android Q is available today for Pixel devices. This is the fourth of six planned test builds, culminating in a final release in the third quarter of this year. The new beta includes several notable feature changes, but it’s an important milestone for another reason. This build of Android Q includes final APIs, allowing developers to begin targeting the new platform in earnest.
Android Q, which will be version 10 at launch, includes numerous privacy enhancements like greater control over location access, a dark UI mode, and 3D face unlock. Google is also revamping the clunky gesture navigation it debuted in Android Pie. We got the first taste of new gestures in Beta 3, but the latest build makes some more changes.
It’s obvious Google has taken inspiration from Apple on the gesture front. The navigation “pill” is now wider like the one on the iPhone X, but the back gesture is still present as a swipe in from the left or right edge. As part of the final API push, Google recommends that developers update their apps to support “gestural navigation.” Doing so will let apps draw behind the navigation area for a full-screen look. There are also suggested replies (see below) built into Android Q if developers want to add support.
Launching the final APIs is also important for foldable phones. Several OEMs are expected to release folding hardware in the coming months, including Samsung and its troubled Galaxy Fold. With final APIs, developers can begin testing apps in the emulator to make sure they’ll work correctly on this new form factor. There’s also the aforementioned dark theme — developers can now plug into that API to respect the system theme setting.
Google will now accept apps that target API level 29 (Android Q) in the Play Store. That won’t do most people any good, but the apps will be there when the new OS begins rolling out.
The nest two beta releases will come in Q3 shortly before the final build. These release candidates should be mostly bug-free and have final features. It’s around this time we’ll find out what Google will call Android Q — its options are much more limited than with other letters. If you want to get on the latest beta, you’ll need a Pixel phone. It will launch later on partner devices like the Huawei Mate 20, OnePlus 6T, and Asus Zenfone 5Z.
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