Android Q: Release date, Live Caption, developer features, and everything we know so far

We don't have a name yet, but we do know quite a bit about the next version of Android.

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Google revealed more details about Android Q during the opening keynote at Google I/O 2019. The company detailed a new Night Theme, a few very impressive accessibility features, new privacy and security initiatives, and parental controls. 

The beta program is open for developers and early adopters -- but, as a warning, you should know there are plenty of bugs and issues in its current state. Don't install the beta on your primary.

Also: The Pixel 3A is official: Here's what you need to know 

Android Q: Release date

We don't have an official release date for the finalized build yet, but we do have the third of six expected beta releases. Anyone can participate in the program, as long as you have a supported device. 

You'll need to visit the official Android Q beta device list to find instructions specific to your device. Be forewarned, however: Some OEMs require you to factory reset your phone before installing Android Q -- and all device makers will require a factory reset should you decide you want to leave the Android Q beta. 

What devices are included?

Google expanded the list of supported devices outside of its own Pixel line, including 21 total devices from 12 different OEMs.  


Supported Devices
Pixel Essential Phone Sony Xperia XZ3
Pixel XL Huawei Mate 20 Pro Tecno Spark 3 Pro
Pixel 2 LGE G8 Vivo X27
Pixel 2 XL Nokia 8.1 Vivo NEX S
Pixel 3 OnePlus 6T Vivo NEX A
Pixel 3 XL OPPO Reno Xiaomi Mi 9
ASUS ZenFone 5Z Realme 3 Pro Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G

Will there be more updates?

android-q-timeline.jpg

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Yes. Google has laid out the release schedule for the Android Q beta program, starting with the first beta in mid-March and ending with the final release in the third-quarter. For developers who care more about APIs and when features will be finalized, look for that to happen in beta 4, currently scheduled for early June.


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Android Q: Features

As is usually the case, Google only talks about a handful of features that it feels are important to users and developers alike. As we continue to test and use Android Q, we'll surely find new features and will update this post as needed. In the meantime, here are some features Google has talked about.

Privacy first

location-access-android-q.png

Google, Inc.

The biggest area of focus of Android Q appears to be related to user privacy. For example, users can now limit when an app has access to their location. In the past, you either gave an app access to your location, or you didn't. Starting with Android Q, you can limit an app's location access only when you are using the app. 

There are also finer controls for file management, restricting access to device identifiers such as the IMEI, serial number, and other IDs that can help track a user. 

Bubbles! 

android-q-bubbles.png

Android Q's new Bubbles feature in action. 

Google, Inc.

Similar to Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads, Bubbles will display small circular, floating alerts on top of whatever it is you're currently doing on your Android device. Users will have to approve each app that wants to use Bubbles as a notification method, so your screen shouldn't be overrun with alerts from every app you have installed. 

Sharing shortcuts

I think every Android user can relate to how slow the share sheet loads. Right now, you tap on the share button, and then have to count to ten while the various apps and shortcuts populate and rearrange themselves a handful of times. With Android Q, Google has created new tools that make it possible for the share sheet to load instantly.

Dark Theme

At I/O, Google confirmed an official Dark Theme is coming with Android Q. The new theme will darken the interface, reducing strain on your eyes as well as saving battery life. 

Live Caption

For deaf users, Google is adding a Live Caption feature that will add subtitles to any video being watched on the phone. You won't need a data connection to use the feature -- it's all done on the device itself. 

Parental Controls

Google's Digital Wellbeing tool is gaining support for tighter parental controls. Parents will be able to approve app installs, set screen time limits, create app limits, and set a bedtime.  

Foldable screen support

With devices like the Galaxy Fold and Huawei X coming, Android Q includes features to better support for detecting when an app has been paused (perhaps when a display is folded) and when it needs to be resumed (after opening the device), as well as enhanced support for resizing of apps. 

Depth information from photos

Google's Pixel line of phones do a fantastic job at capturing depth in a photo despite only having one camera. Google is integrating some of that technology into Android Q, giving developers and device makers access to the image and the Dynamic Depth captured alongside it through new tools. 

More developer options

If terms like Native MIDI API, ANGLE on Vulkan, or Neural Networks API 1.2 are more your thing, then be sure to read through the bottom section of this Android Developers blog post, where the company details those new features, along with new Wi-Fi performance modes, improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity.

Android Q: What will it be called? 

  • The letter Q is up next 
  • Google usually names Android OS updates around a dessert

Your guess is as good as ours right now. Google has always named Android OS updates after some sort of dessert or sweet, and with Android "Q" next up, any type of sweet that begins with "Q" is fair game.

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