New mobile operating system concentrates on improving security, privacy and ‘digital wellbeing’
Google has this week revealed at its I/Q 2019 developer conference that there are 2.5 billion active Android devices around the world.
As part of that announcement, the search engine giant also revealed that latest version of the Android Q beta has released for all Google Pixel phones.
The new mobile OS beta is also available for 15 other Android phones from the likes of like Sony, OnePlus, Nokia, LG, Asus, Vivo, and Xiaomi.
This is technically the third Android Q beta (the first beta came out in March, and the second in April). It can be downloaded here.
The new Android OS promises to deliver a number of improvements, including additional privacy and security features; improved updating procedures for the OS; and a dark mode that should help with battery life.
“This year, Android is reaching version 10 and operating on over 2.5 billion active devices,” blogged Stephanie Cuthbertson, director of product management at Android. “A lot has changed since version 1.0, back when smartphones were just an early idea. Now, they’re an integral tool in our lives – helping us stay in touch, organize our days or find a restaurant in a new place.”
“As people carry their phones constantly and trust them with lots of personal information, we want to make sure they’re always in control of their data and how it’s shared,” wrote Cuthbertson. “And as people spend more time on their devices, building tools to help them find balance with technology continues to be our priority. That’s why we’re focusing on three key areas for our next release, Android Q: innovation, security and privacy and digital wellbeing.”
The new operating system will also be able to support 5G and foldable devices.
But it is clear that privacy and security are a central thrust with this new OS, with Android Q betas bring over 50 features and improvements around user privacy and security.
On the security side, Android Q has extended its BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support system-level biometrics.
Android Q also adds support for TLS 1.3, the latest version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS), which succeeds the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
On the privacy front there were a number of enhancements, with Android Q giving users greater control over when apps can access their location. Apps still ask the user for permission, but now, the user has a greater choice over when to allow access to their location.
Google is also limiting access to device identifiers, such as device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers, in order to prevent tracking. MAC address are also randomizes when devices are connected to different Wi-Fi networks.
Other developments sees the arrival of Project Mainline, which keeps Android devices up-to-date with code changes delivered via Google Play, without the need for a full install of the OS.
Finally there is a system-wide dark mode with Android Q, that can be activated in the display setting or by turning on Battery Saver.
There is also a new gestural navigation mode that hides the navigation bar area and allows apps and games to use the full screen.
On the well-being side, Android Q offers new features such as Focus mode, which is designed to help the user focus without distraction. The user can select the apps they find distracting – such as email or the news – and silence them until they come out of Focus mode.
“Android Q brings many more new features to your smartphone, from a new gesture-based navigation to Dark Theme (you asked, we listened!) to streaming media to hearing aids using Bluetooth LE,” wrote Cuthbertson.
There is no word on when the new OS will hit final release however.
Last month the US Supreme Court asked the Trump administration for its views on the Google-Oracle copyright feud over Android.
Essentially, the highest court in America has asked the White House on its opinion on whether it should hear Google’s bid to end Oracle’s long running copyright infringement lawsuit.