Google has released the first beta build of the next version of its mobile operating system – Android 10.
Also called Android Q, it is currently only available in beta to Google Pixel users.
This version of the operating system is therefore meant for developers to get their software running on the new platform ahead of general release.
In a post on the Android Developers Blog, Android VP of engineering Dave Burke outlined the new features coming in Android 10.
These features include support for different device form factors, privacy enhancements, performance improvements, and more.
Android 10 will include additional enhancements to user privacy, particularly with regard to app permissions and storage access.
Like previous versions of Android, the system will only give location data to apps once the user has granted it.
However, Android 10 will also allow users to only provide apps with location information when the app requiring this data is open.
"For example, an app asking for a user's location for food delivery makes sense and the user may want to grant it the ability to do that," Burke said.
"But since the app may not need location outside of when it's currently in use, the user may not want to grant that access."
The operating system also allows users to control apps' access to their photos, videos, and other files. Downloads will also require the user to select a location via the system file picker.
To protect user information, Android 10 will limit access to device identifiers such as IMEI, serial number, and MAC address, and it will also randomise the device's MAC address when connected to different Wi-Fi networks by default.
Innovation and sharing
One of the most important changes in Android 10 is its expanded support for innovative designs, such as foldable smartphones.
The pausing and resuming of multiple apps and resizing of app windows will be enhanced to improve performance when switching between display modes.
Burke added that the team has been working hard to update the Android Emulator to support multiple-display type switching.
Android 10 will also enable users to share content with others faster and more easily than before.
The operating system will include a new Sharing Shortcuts feature, which will let users quickly enter another app to share content.
These shortcuts are shown to users in the share UI and work similarly to App Shortcuts.
Settings and connectivity
Android 10 will feature a new Settings Panel API which improves on the Slices feature introduced in Android 9.
These Settings Panels are floating interfaces which can be actioned from within an app and used to change settings before closing seamlessly.
The operating system will also offer improved protection around its APIs for Bluetooth, Cellular, and Wi-Fi connectivity, along with support for WPA3 and Enhanced Open.
By improving the Wi-Fi stack, Android 10 can offer high-performance and low-latency Wi-Fi modes to improve gaming and voice calls.
These improvements also make it easier to manage IoT devices over local Wi-Fi networks, Burke stated.
Media and camera
A number of camera enhancements will be included in Android Q, including the ability to request a Dynamic Depth image when taking a picture with your smartphone's camera.
This will allow the user to apply depth-related blurs, bokeh, and focus weighting without the need for additional hardware or third-party software.
"We're making Dynamic Depth an open format for the ecosystem, and we're working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later," Burke said.
Android 10 will also support the open-source AV1 video codec, which allows users to stream high-quality content while using less bandwidth.
Devices running the new operating system will also support HDR10+ video and Opus audio encoding.
A native MIDI API will be included in Android 10, and MIDI data can be retrieved inside an audio callback – enabling the low-latency processing of MIDI messages.
Like other versions of Android, Android 10 will aim to improve performance and startup times across a variety of apps by improving the Android Runtime.
The new OS will also expand its system-wide authentication framework to include biometric verification such as facial recognition, and passive authentication features.
Google is focusing on modernising the Android ecosystem to enhance platform-wide security and improve performance, and when Android 10 is deployed it will warn users if they run an app which targets platforms older than Android 6.0.
Finally, Android 10 will require 64-bit support in all apps.
Users with compatible Google Pixel devices can get the Android 10 beta here.