Friday , November 27 2020

Hands-On with Android Q Beta 1

When Google announced the first beta release of Android Q this week, I decided to ignore it. It lasted about two hours.

And honestly, I have no good reason to install this thing beyond my general interest in personal technology and more specifically what comes next. I have long subscribed to all my iOS devices in the next version of this system through Apple's developer program, for example. And I have been fortunate in past Android grazing and developing previews (where Google seems to have dropped the latter moniker this year, perhaps to get more users on board).

And … Call it prerelease sorry, but I wish I had waited. Android Q Beta 1 has negatively affected my Pixel 2 XL in two immediately obvious ways: The Fitbit app can no longer be synced with my Fitbit Charge 3, and the Instagram screen that appears when you want to send one or more images no longer displays thumbnails , making image selections – especially for multiple images – painfully difficult to use.

These issues are problematic because I recently switched back to Pixel as my primary device, primarily to discover if I would miss the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and its superior camera. And … the answer is yes, actually. So, regardless of these Android Q-related issues and perhaps other upcoming issues that have not yet occurred, it's likely that I would have switched back to Huawei anyway. But these problems certainly do not help Team Pixel.

In any case, Android Q brings a number of changes, and some of them are undoubtedly improvements over what is currently offered in Android P. I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the differences between Android versions, these days I have I has difficulty differentiating different Windows 10 versions considering the feature update frequency, but it is OK: I can lean on different Android enthusiasts to the nitty-gritty. For example, Android police have a large resource that lists all the changes they have found so far in Android Q.

Here's what I've actually noticed in the daily use over the last few days.

Dark state. It is largely broken in Beta 1, but Android Q will officially support a Dark fashion theme. And … my phone uses it without the possibility of returning to a bright theme. It's ok, but many apps don't work properly with Dark mode. As you can see here, some of the UI elements in Google Photos are still white. (And the status bar is completely wrong.) Google could add more theme features, including an accent color (similar to Windows 10), but they are only in Developer settings for now.

A new Now Playing experience on the lock screen. Android Q shows a nicer Now playing experience for music / audio apps on its lock screen that contains album art. And there are several controls when you turn down the display to activate the notification shadow.

Music information about the surrounding view. In a related vein, the surrounding display – which usually just shows the clock and a few status icons, if necessary – shows the name of the currently played song and the artist.

Expected battery life. If you turn on the battery's percentage display in the status bar as I do on non-notch-based phones, you can see a new estimate of the remaining battery life when pulling down the shade, which is good.

Updated screenshots. When you take screenshots in Android Q, they will visually indicate the curved corners and notches (if any) on the display device. The pictures I have seen from Pixel 3 XL are especially fun, as it is comically large, but my Pixel 2 XL has just nicely curved corners. (As you can see on the screens in this post.)

Updated sharing pane. Google announced this in its Beta 1 advertising post, and considering how slow the sub-panel is today in current Android versions, I was very curious to see how well it would work. (Today, you literally have to wait while this pane appears and then fill in.) And … it's still slow. The main panel panel (for apps) appears almost immediately, but the top panel, for users, still takes a second or two to complete.

Share the Wi-Fi password with a QR code. I have not been able to use this feature – I assume another device also uses Android Q but you can now share the password for a connected Wi-Fi network with others using a QR code.

New alert alerts. When you turn left in a shadow message, there is a new ring signal. Select it and you will be presented with new alert notification options: Block, Show Silently and Keep Alert. This is smart: Like many Android users, I often get interrupted by messages I don't want and want to resolve the problem immediately.

Removal of the starter mower undone. When you remove an icon from the home screen, Android Q now gives a handy "Undo" option in "Item removed" toast, just if you made it by mistake.

Options suggestions. When you open the Settings app, you'll find a selection of Options suggestions at the top. Some are useful as "Add emergency information" or "Identify the music around you", but there is no way to turn it off I can find. I suppose this will change during beta.

Finally, I also noticed that the notification shadow-based method of determining what to do when connecting the phone to your PC has disappeared. This means that getting my screenshots from the device was painful. I suppose this will change over beta as well.

Tagged with Android Q

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