Google: Final Android Q beta is out with more navigation changes

Official release of Android Q is "a few weeks away", but Google is still refining its new gesture navigation system.

Android Q gets security updates without rebooting (CNET) Stephanie Cuthbertson, Google's senior director of Android, speaks at Google I/O 2019.

Google has released the sixth and final beta for Android Q and says the official release is "just a few weeks away". 

Being so close to the official release, the latest beta update doesn't contain that many changes but it does offer improvements to gesture navigation "based on user feedback". 

In Android Q, users can swipe from the left edge to go back and swipe up from a single navigation bar to push the open app away and access other apps in the background. 

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Its purpose is to give users more screen space. Users will be able to choose between navigation or gesture navigation, depending on what suits their device. 

The latest changes include "a 200dp vertical app exclusion limit for the Back gesture" and a "sensitivity preference setting for the Back gesture".

The new Back gesture preference is the latest attempt to solve problems users have had with the new navigation system, most notably when using apps that have a Navigation Drawer, which also relies on a swipe from the left edge to open a slide-out panel. 

To address this issue in Android Q Beta 5, Google added an action to drawer behavior, so that users could open the drawer by dragging it out slightly, or 'peeking' at it, pausing, and then swiping. It also added swipes from the corners swiping to access Assistant. 

Users can check out how Android Q's gesture navigations work in an Android developer blogpost. Google plans to update that blog soon with more details about further optimizations. 

It's likely the new gesture navigation system will cause some confusion with some users as they adjust from three buttons to one in the center. 

Android Q beta 6 also includes the API 29 SDK for developers and comes with several known issues when using Google apps, including a flashing screen when writing a review in the Play Store, a white background in dark mode on Google search, and a broken Tap to translate function in Google Translate. 

While new Android releases generally roll out fairly slowly, Google is also advising developers to update their apps for compatibility with Android Q.

Apps will be affected by some key privacy changes that put extra restrictions on apps that access files in external storage, background apps that access user location, apps that launch activities in the background, and apps that access fixed hardware identifiers. 

Researchers drew attention to some of these 'unfixable' privacy issues in a study released in July and reported them to the Federal Trade Commission. Google said Android Q would address them, so users should benefit if their device is upgraded. 

Google is encouraging developers of all apps to support system-wide dark theme, gesture navigation, and to optimize apps for foldable devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold.  

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