The first Android Q beta is available now for Pixel phones
The full launch of Android Q is still a way off, but today Google pushed out the first beta version of the mobile OS, which will work on any Pixel phone – and while the big headline features are still to come, we've got some early pointers about what the next version of Android is going to bring.
Already users are spotting improvements in the Android Share menu, something Google has been promising to refine: as well as previewing what it is that's actually being shared, the menu of options should load up faster.
With an eye on new phones like the Huawei Mate X, the beta version of Android Q includes better support for folding devices. Apps can keep their active state as they jump between screens, for example, and automatically adjust as devices are opened and closed. At the same time it looks as though the split screen mode has been tweaked too.
As seems to happen every time a new version of Android appears, privacy and permission controls are being modified as well, though the changes aren't huge. In Android Q, apps can be set to use a device's location all the time, only while the app is in use, or never, a set of options that mirror what's available in iOS.
Apps are also being blocked from taking over the screen without any user input (for showing alarms for example) – now they can only show a notification rather than fully interrupting what was already happening.
For photos, apps will be able to request more depth information from the camera in Android Q, enabling even more focus and blur effects. Watch out for new filters and effects appearing in your favorite photo and camera apps as Android Q rolls out.
This beta release is aimed primarily at developers, and a lot of the new features of Android Q won't become apparent until apps start adopting them. With developers in mind, there's the usual collection of under-the-hood tweaks, including improvements to app loading times and graphics handling.
Many more features will be pushed out by Google as the launch of Android Q nears, with a full release scheduled for the third quarter of the year. Before then and now we should also hear which dessert Google is naming this year's version of Android after.
In the meantime, if you own a Pixel phone and want to give Android Q a try, head to the beta page to sign up. Bear in mind that this is the very first beta release though, and bugs and crashes are to be expected – we wouldn't recommend installing Android Q on a phone you rely on every day.