Android Q Beta: New Features, Release Date and How to Get It

The first public beta of Android Q, the successor to Google’s current Android 9.0 Pie OS for smartphones, is now ready to download. If you’re curious about what’s coming to Android phones in the near future, or want to know how to download and test the beta for yourself, then we’ve got what you need to know about Android Q below.

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

Android Q Beta Timeline

Google’s shown off its schedule for beta releases and the final version in a handy timeline.

To summarize it in words: the next three versions of the beta will be released at the start of April, May and June, with the final two betas and the full release coming at as yet unannounced points in the third quarter of 2019.

Android Q New Features

A lot of what’s new in Android Q is behind-the-scenes stuff that developers will like, but users aren’t likely to notice. Hopefully you’ll be able to appreciate these hidden changes indirectly, but in case they’re too subtle or you want a general run-down of what’s new, here are the major additions.

Sharing Shortcuts

Credit: GoogleCredit: GoogleGoogle wants to make sending files a quicker process, so it's added Sharing Shortcuts as a feature. This lets app developers set a path into their app from the sharing menu, making sure everything’s in place for the user to send what they want.

Foldable Phones Support

Credit: GoogleCredit: GoogleFoldable phones are tipped to be the next big thing in smartphones, and Google’s making sure that Android Q is ready for it. Functions for pausing and resuming apps have been updated to allow for the multiple different processes that could run simultaneously on a foldable phone, and apps can now be more easily resized for changing between screens. These aren’t something normal users will ever use themselves, but you’ll be glad they’re there if and when you try out a foldable for yourself.

MORE: Galaxy Fold vs. Huawei Mate X: Which Foldable Phone Will Win?

Wi-Fi and Connectivity

There have been some under-the-hood changes to Wi-Fi in Android Q, which Google says will make it faster and more secure to connect to other devices — handy if you’ve got a house full of smart home tech that needs controlling via app.

It’s now also easier to give your Wi-Fi password to someone else via the Settings menu. Under the Wi-Fi section, you can share the password in the form of a QR code, or read one such QR code to connect to Wi-Fi. No more turning your router this way and that to find the sticker with the password on it.

Call Screening

If you’re frequently bothered by telemarketers and robot callers, Android Q wants to help with its screen feature. Calls that don’t come from numbers saved in your contacts book can be automatically rejected, while still appearing in your call log if you want to check on the source of these irritating calls. There’s also the option to access and display information associated with a calling number, such as a business name or social network profile.

Camera and Photography

There are currently two improvements to photography included in the Android Q beta — changes to monochrome photography and depth

Monochrome is self-explanatory, and can be found in the current version of Android, 9.0 Pie. The changes let these greyscale images be saved in RAW format, which is good for anybody or any app wanting to process them; a new data storage method means the images will take up less space too.

App makers can now read more kinds of image data, including XMP (depth information) and compressed JPEGs, in their camera apps, by saving the information in a new dynamic depth format (DDF) file. For users, this means both default and downloaded photography apps will have the potential to produce better effects and more effectively process images.

Settings Panel

Credit: GoogleCredit: GoogleApps can now add support for a kind of settings pop-up that features only relevant options to the app you’re in. The example Google users is finding you’re not connected to the internet when you open a browser. By accessing the panel, you can immediately toggle your Wi-Fi, mobile data and Airplane Mode settings without having to go into the full Settings menu.

Privacy

In other permission related changes, the Access Storage permission has now been split to individual folders that includes Photos, Videos, Audio and Downloads. Apps can no longer leap into the foreground while you’re using another app; the most an app can now do is give a notification that it wants to do something.

Location

Credit: GoogleCredit: GoogleUnless you’re devotedly toggling the settings before and after each time you use something like Google Maps, it’s most likely that you’re giving any apps that ask for your location your permission once, and then leaving it on forever, letting apps track your movements even if you’re not using them.

In Android Q, the permissions have expanded. You can still prevent an app from accessing your location, or give it permanent access, but now there’s a middle ground of only letting an app access your location while it’s running — iOS offers a similar feature.

Audio and Video

Thanks to some new codecs, and a developer tool to analyze the capability of the phone an app’s installed on, you will enjoy improved video and audio quality on phones running Android Q.

Other Possible Android Q Features

In February, an early access version of Android Q suggested that the new OS may remove the back button, replacing it with a gesture that would be universal across all Android phones, rather than an option provided by the phone maker. There’s no mention of this change in the current Android Q release notes, so we could see it show up in a later version of the OS. Given the current smartphone design direction of more screen and less bezel, it’s unlikely Google has dropped the idea completely.

In the same leaked beta from February, there was apparently a system-wide dark mode, which would activate the darker colors in all apps, and recolor apps that didn’t have a dark theme built in. A desktop mode, allowing Android apps to run in a windowed format similar to a PC or Mac, was also present. Again, these features aren't currently in the beta, but could well reappear again at a later date.

How to Download the Android Q Beta

The major barrier to testing the new version of Android is having the right phone in the first place. You need a Google Pixel — 1,2 or 3, it doesn’t matter which version — to be eligible.

When you have a Pixel to hand, make sure it’s not a phone you regularly use. Bugs in the beta can cause you to have to reset the device. You can then enroll in the Android Q beta here, and download the beta onto your phone or use a system image to update it.

If you don’t have a Pixel, you can download system images onto the Android Emulator program on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer.

We must however repeat: this beta is more for developers rather than for general use. Don’t do this out of casual interest, especially since future betas figure to be more stable.