It’s March, which means it’s officially new Android beta season.
And right on time, Google has released its developer preview of Android Q this week. This is a version of Android
that you can flash right now, and we’ve got it running
here on our Pixel 3s. It’s important to note, though,
that you should definitely only download this if you
know what you’re doing, or have a spare Pixel
device laying around. The Q beta will work
across all Pixel phones, all the way back to the original. But, again, please download
at your own risk. If you don’t have a spare device, then good news for you: we are here to give you a first look. Let’s dive in. Q beta looks a lot like
the current version of Android Pie with a
few tiny visual changes. For those of you who use
other Google products on the web like Docs, Maps,
or even Google Flights search, you might’ve already noticed
that Google’s been moving everything to a new Product Sans font. On the Q beta, Product Sans is everywhere. If you don’t like this, though, there are some new tools that
let you customize the fonts and even the icon shape
and the color bars. You have your standard white, black, green, like from the Hangouts app, and even this new purple color. Google’s also made the
emergency button more accessible by allowing you to now access
it from the power button. You could get to it before
from the lock screen, but now, if you just hold the power button, it’s one of the buttons under power off, restart, and screenshot. Something I really like
about the new beta so far is the new battery remaining
estimator that’s permanent now on the top navigation bar. Before, you would normally
see your time remaining estimate when your battery is low, and now, you can just see that
right next to the battery icon by dragging down the top navigation bar. This is similar to what
you find on laptops. There’s also a new battery-saver mode that you can enable based
on your usage habits instead of how low your battery gets. Right now, dark mode on Pie is very limited, but on Q, if you turn on
the battery-saver mode, it actually shows up
in pages like settings, which means that a system-wide dark mode might be coming in the
next version of Android. That’s going to be great
for fans of dark mode who’ve been asking for this feature. One of the primary focuses
of Q so far is privacy. And that’s obviously not a surprise, given the past few
months and years in tech. In particular, location and privacy are now broken out into their own
setting menu items up front. Just like on iOS, you can
now give ask permission to access your location
only when the app is in use, instead of blanket yes or no, which is going to be great
for those who want to limit their data sharing to third parties. That should also be better
for your overall battery life. The Q beta will also limit access to other phone identifiers like
the IMEI and serial number, and it will also randomize
your MAC address by default instead of optionally on Pie. That’s great for those
who want an extra layer of protection from ad targeting. One of the quirkier changes to Q beta is now how screenshots
look on a Pixel 3. This is the first Pixel
to come out with a notch, and now the screenshots include that notch, which… well, I don’t know what it’s for. But the only way to avoid that notch in your screenshot is
to turn off the notch and you get the rounded corners instead. I guess that’s one way
to show your friends that you have the latest Pixel phone. My colleagues and I also
haven’t been quite able to figure out where the Q Easter egg is. We tried the normal route
of going to the about phone and tapping the version
number until something comes up. But so far, we’re getting
the same Pie Easter eggs. So if you find something,
please let us know because I can’t figure out what dessert Q is supposed to be named after. Now this is just version one of the beta, which means there are lots more to come, and lots that I haven’t gotten into. What we do know is that
Google is definitely preparing for tighter controls around privacy, which will continue to
be a big theme in tech. It’s also getting ready
for alternative screen form factors like foldable phones that are coming out later this year. The Galaxy Fold, for example,
won’t be running Q, per say, but it will run on a
tweaked version of Pie that includes this folding screen support. What Q will offer are likely improvements from multiapp use and better animations for when you fold and unfold the screens. Still, it’s important to know
that a lot of Android devices you have right now
probably won’t ever get Q. As of last October, only 21 percent
of Android devices were on Oreo, and you’re probably on Pie
if you bought a new phone sometime this year or own a Pixel. We hope and pray every
year that will change, but I guess we’ll find out more later this spring at Google I/O. Thanks for watching, and let me know in the comments what you think
Q could possibly stand for. And for more coverage around Android Q, check us out on theverge.com and more videos like this
on youtube.com/theverge