It's that time of the year again: Google has just announced the next major release of Android, known as Android Q until a proper name is unveiled.
A developers' beta is already available for certain handsets, so if you don't mind playing around with unfinished software, keep reading to find out if your device is eligible. So far, Android Q has mostly introduced small enhancements and upgrades, but we expect that Google will debut much more notable features at its I/O 2019 conference in May.
Even if you don't want to jump into the beta, here's a look at everything you need to know about Android Q, what it'll be called, when the full version will be released, and the notable new additions that we know about so far.
What will Android Q be called?
Android "Q" is just a placeholder, of course – Google always gives its latest OS revision a name based on a sweet treat. Over the last few years, we've had Android Pie (shown), Oreo, Nougat, Marshmallow, and Lollipop.
What about Q, though? Truth be told, unlike a lot of other letters in the alphabet, there aren't a lot of obvious options. Google could stretch the naming rules and do something like Quiche or Quinoa, or perhaps Quirks or Queen of Pudding will do the trick? We probably won't know for a few more months, so let the speculation continue.
When will Android Q be released?
Beta 1 of Android Q is out now – and it'll be some time before we get out of this beta cycle. Google has announced plans to release six different core beta versions, with Beta 2 in April, Beta 3 in May, and Beta 4 in June.
In Q3 2019, Beta 5 and Beta 6 will nudge Android Q closer to a final release – and that proper 10.0 edition is also set to launch in Q3. Things could change along the way, but with a potentially six-month beta cycle here, it's likely that Android Q will be ready for wide consumption on Google's expected timeline.
What features does Android Q add?
For the most part, the initial feature list for Android Q isn't hugely exciting. They're mostly little tweaks and enhancements – but worry not. Last year, Android P looked a little lightweight at first, but then Google announced a whole bunch of neat features at I/O 2018.
We'll surely hear about more functionality at I/O 2019 in May, then, but here are some of the highlights from Google's extensive initial listing of additions.
- Faster app startups: Android's ART runtime has seen significant improvements, leading to speedier starts for many apps.
- Security upgrades, including more control over apps' location usage and other privacy protections.
- Improved Wi-Fi coding for better peer-to-peer and internet connectivity, plus an adaptive Wi-Fi mode that lets developers use high-performance or low-latency settings.
- Native dynamic depth for photos, letting apps harness depth data for 3D images, augmented reality features, and unique bokeh and background blurs.
Which devices will get Android Q?
As you might expect, it's Google's own Pixel devices that get the first crack at Android Q Beta 1. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are obviously on that list, along with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. And even with older specs, the original Pixel and Pixel XL made the cut for Beta 1, as well. You can enroll in the program for an over-the-air update, or download an image if you please.
Last year, Google added several third-party handsets from the likes of Sony, OnePlus, and Nokia to the Android P beta list at I/O 2018, so maybe we'll see wider beta compatibility this time around, as well.
As for the eventual full version of Android Q, it's hard to predict exactly which devices will get the OS upgrade. That's because it's up to the individual manufacturers to release a version for each phone, and by and large they've been incredibly spotty over the years. And slow, too.
This autumn's Pixel 4 devices will undoubtedly launch with Android Q onboard, and all of this year's major phones will probably see Android Q at some point. Many of last year's big phones likely will, as well. As for any handsets older than that – it's possible, but don't hold your breath.