Google Launches Android Q Beta 3

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev, Google with 5 Comments

Coincidental with the first day of its I/O conference today, Google launched Android Q Beta 3, adding a new system-wide dark theme, a fully-gestural navigation scheme, and numerous other new features.

“With Android Q, we’ve focused on three themes: innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing,” Google VP Dave Burke writes. “We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology — 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more — while making sure users’ security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority.”

I’ve tested the first two Android Q betas on my Google Pixel 2 XL—Beta 1 arrived in March, while Beta 2 landed in April—but I’ve since moved on to the Pixel 3 XL, so I have a decision to make. This might not be a bad time to upgrade, honestly, since this release arrives with a ton of new features. But it’s also available on far more device types—see below—so maybe the best approach will be to install it elsewhere.

We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a quick overview of what’s new in Android Q Beta 3.

Dark theme. Google has finally implemented a system-wide dark theme option in Android that reduces eye strain and saves battery power.

Gestural navigation. Android has supported gesture-based system navigation for a few releases now, but it’s going fully-gestural in Android Q. This means that Google is eliminating the navigation bar all together so that apps and games can literally use the entire screen. As a result, Back, Home, and Recents navigation will occur entirely through edge swipes rather than visible buttons. Don’t worry, it’s optional.

Smart replies and actions in notifications. Android Q Beta 3 provides smart replies and actions directly in notifications, and app makers can add their own.

New digital wellbeing features. Building off the digital wellbeing functionality in Android P, Android Q adds a new Focus Mode that silences distracting apps and a set of parental controls called Family Link.

New privacy features. Beta 3 finally rolls out the new app location permissions and Scoped Storage features that Google previously announced. Google also improved the app background launching warnings it previously implemented; now they are just blocked.

New security features. Android Q offers improved support for passive authentication methods like facial recognition by adding both implicit and explicit confirmations. And a new security technology called Project Mainline lets Google and handset makers issue updates to specific OS components without requiring a full system update.

Low-level changes. Android Q is also bringing a long list of low-level changes and improvements to the platform, including Improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity, Wi-Fi performance modes, full support for Wi-Fi RTT accurate indoor positioning, audio playback capture, dynamic depth for photos, and much, much more.

Thanks to the industry-wide support for Project Treble, Android Q Beta 3 is available for a long list of Android handsets; it’s not just Pixel handsets this time. You can see the full list on the Android Beta website, but Essential Phone, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and OnePlus 6T are among the newly-compatible devices.

To get Android Q Beta 3 on a Pixel handset, just enroll your device on the Android Beta website. For other newly compatible handsets, you’ll need to visit your manufacturer’s website, as noted on the Android Beta website. If you’re already running Beta 2, you will get Beta 3 via system update normally.

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