The next major version of Android is on the horizon, and it's currently known as Android Q until a proper name is unveiled.
A public beta is now 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. And now at Google's I/O developers' conference, the company has revealed many more big features and details about the upcoming OS refresh.
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?
The first beta of Android Q came out in March and the second followed in April. Beta 3 just released and added a bunch of additional devices, with a fourth beta expected 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?
Initially, the feature list for Android Q looked pretty lightweight. However, Google always saves some reveals for I/O, and that was the case again this year. Now that the conference keynote has passed, we've learned about some of the bigger additions. Here are the highlights.
- Dark Theme: Android Q will have a native Dark Theme mode that uses true black, saving power with OLED displays. Google will also update apps like Calendar and Photos to match the OS option.
- Improved Gestures: Android Q builds upon the gesture controls introduced in Android Pie, taking on more of an iPhone-esque approach. One of the key advantages is that swiping either from the left or right side of the screen lets you go back, with a little "<" icon near your finger indicating the impending move.
- Project Mainline: Google's new initiative will make it easier for the company to update key parts of Android through the Play Store, ensuring that your system can stay a bit more up-to-date even if your phone's manufacturer isn't on the ball with OS updates.
- Live Caption: This super-cool feature uses local machine learning to provide real-time captions to both video and audio from any source, whether it's media or within an app.
- Focus mode: This will let you silence particular apps that you find distracting until Focus mode is disengaged. Additionally, Android Q's Digital Wellbeing will have Family Link functionality, letting parents set app-specific time limits and provide bonus time when it's earned.
- 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?
Google's own Pixel devices had the first crack at Android Q Beta 1. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were 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.
Now, a grand total of 21 devices are compatible with the public beta, including those devices and the new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, as well as these third-party devices: the OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3, ASUS ZenFone 5z, Xiaomi Mi 9, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, LG G8 ThinQ, Nokia 8.1, Essential Phone, ASUS ZenFone 5z, OPPO Reno, Tecno Spark 3 Pro, Realme 3 Pro, Vivo X27, Vivo NEX A, and Vivo NEX S. Phew.
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.