Google launches Android Q Beta 1

Google today launched Android Q Beta 1, available for download now at google.com/android/beta. The first beta includes a preview SDK for developers with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and the official Android Emulator.

This is the fourth year running that Google has released the first developer preview of the next Android version in March — Android N (later named Android Nougat), Android O (Android Oreo), and Android P (Android Pie). For the past two years, Google did not use the Android Beta Program, which lets you get early Android builds via over-their-air updates on select devices. That changes with Android Q — Google is making the first preview available as a beta, not just as a developer preview. That signals that it is ready for early adopters to try, in addition to developers. As before, this preview version will be referred to as Android Q until Google picks a name starting with that letter.

In past years, Google would wait until the second developer preview before making it available on more phones, and that’s likely to stay the same. The first Android Q developer preview is, however, technically available on more phones (six Pixels as opposed to four).

With Android P, the feature that stood out the most in the first developer preview was support for notches and other screen cutouts. The same would likely have been the case for Android Q in terms of foldables, but Google unveiled native support for foldables in November.

If you want the short version, here are the highlights for the first Android Q beta: additional privacy and security features, enhancements for foldables, new connectivity APIs, new media codecs and camera capabilities, NNAPI extensions, Vulkan 1.1 support, and faster app startup.

Beta 1 features

Still not satisfied? Here is the longer version of all the new APIs and features (and there is more to come; this is just the first beta, after all):

  • Device location: Giving users more control over when apps can get location, including when the app is not in use (in the background). Users will be able to give apps permission to see their location never, only when the app is in use (running), or all the time (when in the background).
  • Scoped storage: Giving more control over access to shared files. Users will be able to control apps’ access to Photos, Videos, and the Audio collections via new runtime permissions. For Downloads, apps must use the system file picker, which allows the user to decide which Download files the app can access. Developers will also have to change how apps use shared areas on external storage.
  • Background activity starts: Reduce interruptions like apps unexpectedly jumping into the foreground and taking over focus. Apps will be prevented from launching an Activity while in the background. Developers will still be able to get the user’s attention quickly — such as for incoming calls or alarms — with a high-priority notification a full-screen intent.
  • User data IDs: Limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers. Android Q will also randomize the device’s MAC address when connected to different Wi-Fi networks by default (optional in Android 9 Pie).
  • Foldables and innovative new screens: Apps will be able to take better advantage of these and other large-screen devices. Changes to onResume and onPause support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. The resizeableActivity manifest attribute now helps manage how your app is displayed on foldable and large screens.

Beta schedule

The goal of the first beta is to let early adopters and developers play with the build early so they can explore new features and APIs for apps, test for compatibility, and give feedback before more details are shared at I/O 2018, scheduled for May 7 to May 9. More new features and capabilities will be released in subsequent developer previews, and eventually enrollments will be taken through the Android Beta Program.

For reference, last year’s preview schedule was as follows:

  • March: Preview 1 (initial release, alpha)
  • May: Preview 2 (incremental update, beta)
  • June: Preview 3 (final APIs and official SDK, Play publishing, beta)
  • June: Preview 4 (release candidate for testing)
  • July: Preview 5 (release candidate for final testing)
  • Q3: Final release to AOSP and ecosystem

Google is asking developers to make their app compatible with Android Q so that their users can expect a seamless transition when they upgrade. If you find any bugs, you can report them here.

More to follow

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