Google today launched the fifth Android Q beta with gestural navigation updates. If you’re a developer, you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading it from developer.android.com/preview.
The preview includes system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you’re already enrolled in the beta program, you’ll automatically get the update to Beta 5. Like the last two betas, Google is also bringing Android Q Beta 5 to third-party phones “over the coming weeks.”
In addition to the Pixels, here are the supported third-party devices (full list): Asus ZenFone 5Z, Essential Phone, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, LGE G8, Nokia 8.1, OnePlus 6T, Oppo Reno, Realme 3 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3, Tecno Spark 3 Pro, Vivo X27, Vivo Nex S, Vivo Nex A, Xiaomi Mi 9, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.
Google launched Android Q Beta 1 in March, Android Q Beta 2 in April, Android Q Beta 3 in May, and Android Q Beta 4 in June. Beta 1 brought additional privacy and security features, enhancements for foldables, new connectivity APIs, new media codecs and camera capabilities, NNAPI extensions, Vulkan 1.1 support, and faster app startup. Beta 2 added multitasking Bubbles, a foldables emulator, and a new MicrophoneDirection API.
Beta 3, which launched at I/O 2019, brought 5G support, foldable improvements, more privacy enhancements (defining when apps can get location, restricting background launching, preventing tracking), biometrics improvements, TLS 1.3, suggested actions in notifications, Smart Reply in notifications, Live Caption, Focus Mode, Dark Theme, gestural navigation, and Project Mainline. Beta 4 came with final Android Q APIs and the official SDK.
Testing Beta 5
While Beta 4 didn’t bring any new features, Beta 5 does have some new tricks up its sleeve. The gestural navigation has been updated in a few key areas. You can use a new swipe gesture from either corner to get to the Google Assistant. For apps using a navigation drawer, there is now a peek behavior when you grab it — to indicate that a swipe will bring it in.
Google still isn’t done here, though. Custom launchers are still having some issues, particularly with stability and Recents. Beta 6 will switch you back to the three-button navigation by default when you are using a custom launcher. In fact, Google says it won’t address the remaining issues before Android Q launches. A post-launch update will let users switch to gestural navigation.
If you’re a developer, you’ll want to download Android Studio, configure your environment, and check the release notes. Then install your current app from Google Play onto a device or emulator running Beta 5, work through the user flows, and make sure it handles the behavior and privacy changes. You’ll also want to test for uses of restricted non-SDK interfaces, the libraries and SDKs in your app, and distribution.
If you find issues, fix them in the current app without changing your targeting level (migration guide, privacy checklist). When you’re done, update your app’s targetSdkVersion to ‘Q’.
Android Q is on a tight schedule, as developers test for compatibility and give feedback. To help Google keep the betas coming, you can file platform issues, app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues.
Last year, there were five developer previews (four betas). This year, Google will have six betas in total. Five betas down, one to go. Here’s the preview schedule:
- March: Beta 1 (initial release, beta)
- April: Beta 2 (incremental update, beta)
- May: Beta 3 (incremental update, beta)
- June: Beta 4 (final APIs and official SDK, Play publishing, beta)
- Beta 5 (release candidate for testing)
- Beta 6 (release candidate for final testing)
- Q3: Final release to AOSP and ecosystem
The final Android Q release will likely arrive in August.