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Hands-On with Android Q Beta 1

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

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

And … Call it prerelease regret, but I wish I had waited. Android Q Beta 1 has negatively affected my Pixel 2 XL in two directly obvious ways: The Fitbit app can no longer be synchronized with my Fitbit Charge 3 and the Instagram screen that appears when you want to send one or more photos no longer shows thumbnails, [19659002]

These problems are problematic because I recently switched back to Pixel as my primary device, mainly 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 haven't yet emerged, it's likely that I would have switched back to Huawei soon anyway. But these problems certainly won't help Team Pixel.

Android Q anyway makes a number of changes, and some of them are undoubtedly improvements over what is currently offered in Android P. I do not have Encyclopedic knowledge of the differences between Android versions, sometimes I have problems differentiating different Windows 10 versions, considering the update rate of the feature, but that's OK: I can lean on different Android enthusiasts for the nitty-gritty. For example, the Android police have a large resource that describes all the changes that they have found so far in Android Q.

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

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

A new Play Now experience on the lock screen. Android Q shows a nicer Play Now experience for music / audio apps on the lock screen containing album art. And there are more controls when you swipe down the screen to activate the notification screen.

Music information about the surrounding display. In a related narrative, the surrounding display – which normally only shows the clock and some status icons, if needed – now displays the name of the playing song and the artist.

] Estimated battery life left. If you turn on battery percentage display in the status bar, as I do on non-notch phones, you see a new estimate of the remaining battery life when you pull down the message screen, which is nice.

Updated screenshots. When you take screenshots in Android Q, they will visually indicate the curved corners and hack (if any) on the display unit. The pictures I have seen from the Pixel 3 XL are especially fun considering that the device's comic big notch, but my Pixel 2 XL has just nicely curved corners. (As you can see on the screenshots in this post.)

Updated subpanel. Google announced this in its Beta 1 message post, and considering how slow the Share panel is today in current Android versions, I was very curious about how well it would work. (Today, you literally need to wait while this box appears and fills in.) And … it's still slow. The main window (for apps) is displayed pretty much immediately, but the top panel for users still takes a second or two to fill in.

Share Wi-Fi passwords with a QR code. I haven't had a chance to actually use this feature. I guess it requires that a second 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 message alert option. When you swipe to the left at a notification in the shadow there is a new ringtone. Select it, and you will be presented with new message alert options: Block, Show Silent, and Keep Alert. This is smart: Like many Android users, I am often interrupted by messages that I do not want and want to resolve the problem immediately.

Remote control on the home screen removed. When you remove an icon from the home screen, Android Q now provides a useful option "Undo" in the "Item removed" toast, only if you did so by mistake.

Settings suggestions. When you open the Settings app, you will find a selection of preferences as the top. Some are useful as "Add Emergency Information" or "Identify Music Around You" but there is no way to turn them off as I can find. I guess this will change during the beta period.

Finally, I also noted that the notification screen-based method for determining what to do when connecting the phone to the computer has disappeared. That means it was bad to get my screenshots off the device. I guess this will change during the beta race.

Marked with Android Q

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