Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference where the company is talking up many new features and technologies it is working on started today. As expected, the keynote included details of a few of the new features that will be making it to the next major version of Android, which is currently known as Android Q.
First up is native support for foldables. As previously announced, Android Q will include support for foldable devices natively and enable experiences such as Screen Continuity and App Continuity that help seamlessly transition between the different states of foldable devices. The company announced that multiple OEM will launch foldable devices this year running Android. The firm also mentioned that the OS will support 5G natively and will provide tools that will leverage the benefits of the faster connectivity and lower latency brought by 5G in the way of gaming and augmented reality experiences.
Another area that Android Q builds on is on-device machine learning. In addition to the prowess of the cloud, the company is boasting about the experiences such as Live Caption that are enabled by live speech models that run on-device and advancements in speech recognition. The company showed off a demo where a video was captioned in real-time whilst the phone was on Flight mode, displaying how these features can provide accessibility options without even being connected to the internet.
Smart Reply, too, is getting some improvements, with the feature being built right into the notifications system for other messaging applications to leverage. The feature will also include smart suggestions, where possible actions from notifications are provided right in-line.
Another much-awaited and highly requested feature – Dark Theme – is being built natively into the OS. Dark theme can be turned on from the notification quick tile or by turning on battery saver.
Google’s increased emphasis on privacy and security also reflects in the additions to privacy settings on Android Q. The company says that it is adding close to 50 new features and changes that are aimed at privacy. There is now a dedicated Privacy section in settings that encompasses privacy settings such as Activity Controls, Location Data and Ad settings. Notifications for apps accessing location data and controls over when location data is shared are some of the additions to location settings.
Google is also introducing a faster way to update devices, with the ability to directly update certain OS modules, such as security or compatibility, over the air without needing a restart of the phone. Digital Wellbeing is also receiving some updates with the addition of Focus Mode. This lets users disable certain apps to avoid distractions, and only allows notifications to come through when turned off. The company is also introducing updates to its Family Link parental controls feature. Focus mode will come to devices running Android P and Q later this fall.
Lastly, the company announced that the Android Q Beta program is expanding to more OEMs, making it a total of 21 OEMs that will be a part of the program whose devices will be eligible to receive Android Q beta releases.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Android Q and other news that is announced at Google IO 2019.