Android Q: 7 Features Developers Need To Know About

From Dynamic Depth photography to improved security, we're sharing all the best features.
Albert Miró
Albert Miró
April 25, 2019

It’s nearly here! To celebrate its impending arrival, we’re going to look at 7 Android Q features that developers need to know about.

Whilst we don’t have the official release date in our calendars, we expect it’ll fall somewhere in May 2019 when Google I/O takes place. If you can’t quite wait until the release date, however, you can sign up to the Android Beta program to test drive the new features! Make sure you have access to one of the supported devices to get started.

Let’s take a look at the most exciting things Android Q has to offer Android developers.

android q

Improved privacy & location permissions with Android Q

Previous Android versions opened up permissions to let users decide which ones they wish to grant but Android Q goes a step further.

Imagine that you’re using an app that needs access to your location – a weather or food delivery or car sharing app, for instance. The new permission system lets the user control when these apps can have their location.

Do you want them to track you when the apps are in the background or just when the app is in use? That decision is now yours so you can determine what level of privacy is most appropriate.

That’s not all! Android Q now blocks background apps from opening activities to capture the attention of the user. If users wish to be notified in such a way, they’ll now have to confirm it as a priority notification.

No unwanted pop-ups when you’re trying to stay focused!

Device identifiers will also be protected (including your IMEI, serial number and similar identifiers) and apps will face more restricted access. The MAC address will also be automatically randomized when connected to different WiFi. Your privacy matters!

android q for foldable devices

GIF credit

Android Q supports foldable devices

We talked about how to develop Android apps for foldable devices at the end of last year and you’ll be pleased to know they’re now supported natively in Android Q! Hurrah!

Android Q sees the birth of an emulator that lets you play around and start developing for foldable tech. Isn’t that exciting?!

You can try the emulator out for yourself with the canary release of Android Studio 3.5. You’ll need to set up a foldable AVD that uses the Android Q Beta 2 system image.

Android Q boasts improved share dialogs

Sharing makes everything easier and faster.

Google faced complaints about how users were able to share content through their apps with third-party apps. They have now improved this system, however, making it a much faster process that comes with much better recommendations. That’s right everyone, you’ll now be able to share that Youtube video of a cat meowing to Ed Sheeran’s song in record time. What a time to be alive!

Some tweaks will need to be made by Android developers to allow for these sharing shortcuts, however. Check out this example project on Github that looks at how you can integrate it into your existing app.

Navigatable ‘Settings’ panels

Have you ever found yourself in-app but unsure as to whether or not you were connected to wifi? The new ‘Settings’ panel that comes with Android Q solves that dilemma.

You can now alter your general settings from a swipeable panel whilst in-app. Making it even easier to check whether you’re connected or not.

Wi-Fi performance modes

Adaptive Wi-Fi modes have been added in Android Q, allowing you to enable high performance or low latency modes.

Low latency is used for things like real-time gaming and active voice calls.

dynamic depth android q

Dynamic depth format for photos

Phone photography has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade.

If you look at the current market, you’ll be able to see phones with multiple cameras boasting depth of field features that tastefully blur the background of images to create a focal point. This effect is achieved by capturing metadata from different points in the image and then applying the static blur.

With Android Q, apps will now be able to request a Dynamic Depth image. This image consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata (related to depth-related elements) and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file (on devices that advertise support).

This enables apps to offer a variety of blurs and bokeh effects, all through metadata. Who needs a DSLR?!

It’ll be interesting to see how this feature develops in terms of its usage. Could it be used in Augmented Reality apps to best determine where objects are situated?

android q bubbles

Bubbles: a new way to multitask with Android Q

Bubbles allow users to multitask and move between activities.

For instance, with bubbles, you’re able to message someone whilst working on other tasks on your smartphone or attach a note in front of other activities so that you can keep it in mind.

Here is a sample implementation for you to peruse.

So, what else can we expect from Android Q?

Whilst those were are some of our most anticipated features, Android Q sees the introduction of plenty of other interesting features too – such as the new audio and video codecs that will allow media providers to stream high-quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. This update also promises anative MIDI API which is able to communicate with MIDI devices through NDK.

The security has been improved with this new Android version, too, as it uses a unified authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level which are then able to support more passive authentication methods. There’s also added support for TLS 1.3 that includes performance benefits and enhanced security.

That’s not all, however, Neural Networks API 1.2 is now supported by Android Q. This will help improve the artificial intelligence of our devices, meaning that they’ll be able to recognise objects and images more efficiently and more reliably. Improvements in ART runtime have been made too which helps apps load faster and consume less memory.

Vulkan is also a priority as it’s now a requirement for all 64 bits devices that use Android Q. This will help provide a uniform high-performance graphics API for apps and games. ANGLE, the graphics abstraction layer that lets us execute OpenGL games over Vulkan, will also start receiving experimental support in Android Q. This will significantly improve the performance of it in devices that support the technology.


And that’s all the news so far! We can’t wait for its release! Check out the Android Developers blog for more detailed information on Android Q Beta and Android Q Beta 2.  

Are you excited for Android Q? If so, which feature are you most interested in? Tweet us and we’ll be sure to retweet the responses!

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(Hero image credit: Joe Birch.)

(Other image credit: Android Developer's Blog)