Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

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Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

Android Q has been out since March steadily progressing through its betas.  This week Q hit its last step in the refinement process with the release of the final beta 6.  The official release is “a few weeks away” at this point, but if you’re interested in exploring Q early there’s no better time than the present!

Changes With 6:

Spoiler Alert: there aren’t that many changes in the new version.   Final APIs for developers were locked down in beta 4, so 5 and this new version are mostly bug fixes and small tweaks.   But one big change is with gesture navigation.  The back gesture has received a bit of a makeover.  Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“We’ve made further refinements to Gesture Navigation in Beta 6 based on user feedback. First, to ensure reliable and consistent operation, there’s a 200dp vertical app exclusion limit for the Back gesture. Second, we’ve added a sensitivity preference setting for the Back gesture.”

To non-developers the 200dp may not make sense, but the concept is fairly simple.  Apps have the option to opt out of the back button gesture navigation, but only to an extent.  They’re only allowed to stop the back gesture for 200 “density-independent pixels”.  The idea behind this is to make things easier if you’re in an app that involves horizontal scrolling.  We don’t want a user to accidentally go back when they’re just trying to scroll through a list.

Feedback on Gestures:

Another somewhat confusing part of the left-side gesture recognition is that some apps have drawers you can open from this side.  On trick you can use to view these instead of accidentally going back in the OS is swiping to the right but also up at a 45 degree angle.  Not really something you should have to distinguish between as it feels like bad design, but that’s how things currently are.

Google says that feedback has played a lot into the gesture changes they’ve made with Q, and hopefully it works out in a manner that feels fluid and easy to use.  Every beta seems to have had a different version of gestures, so Google only has so long to get it all right!

There are currently dozens of different navigation styles in the Android ecosystem thanks to the fact that not all phones are made in house by Google.  But this is about to0 change with the release of Q.  Google announced at I/O this year that gesture navigation will be standardized and that other phones must adhere to it in order to run Android OS.  This will be a very welcome change for anyone who has felt lost swapping from one phone to another.  But it’s also high stakes to make sure that things are done right.

Getting Q Today:

System images for this beta are currently available for all Pixel devices.  If you have one then you’ll be running on Q soon enough, but if you’re looking to play around right away then go set it up and let us know what you think in the comments below.  We also still don’t know what Q’s snack name is.  It’s probably the most important part of any software, so stay tuned for that!

 

Android Studio Tuning Up

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Android Studio Tuning Up

Android Q has been the buzz of April, but without a physical device to see it on most developers are out of the loop.  Sure we can read things online or watch videos, but it just isn’t the same as seeing it in person.  Fortunately, this (among other things) is now a reality thanks to Android Studio’s newest version!

Android Studio 3.4:

Android’s developer blog just posted about Android Studio 3.4.  After six months of development, it’s now available on the stable release channel. There’s not a crazy amount of change from the previous version of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE), but the changes available are certainly welcome.

The first wave of these changes are for actual development.  We all use import intentions when coding to save time.  It’s what happens automatically if you hit enter halfway through typing a class or method from elsewhere.  Android Studio automatically adds the import statement at the top of your file so that you don’t have to worry about these.

And if you don’t hit enter, after seeing an error in the code you can click Alt + Enter to bring up a list of hot options such as this import.  Of course, these only work if you already have that 3rdparty library added to your Gradle file.  At least it used to work that way! Now Android Studio will recognize common classes and suggest adding these dependencies to your Gradle project files.

Visual Changes:

If you’ve ever worked in a project that uses a lot of drawable images, you know it can get very messy very fast.  A huge downside of Android Studio’s organization of images is that there is only one layer. This means you can’t nest images in folders, thus it’s very easy to see a wall of file names and have to scroll endlessly unless you remember the name of the image your looking for.

There’s actually a toggle you can use to display images so that your scrolling can take place a little easier, but overall resource management in Android Studio has always been a little clunky.  3.4. aims to bring a new tool to visualize drawables, colors, and layouts across your project in an easier way to manage.  No more scrolling indefinitely!

Android Q:

And finally with Android Q gaining popularity, it was only a matter of time before the beta build made its way onto an Emulator.  So if you’ve been itching to get your hands on a device to test the new features this version brings, now is your chance!

Android 3.4 is officially on the stable release channel, so feel free to download it right now.  After you do let us know what you think about it in the comments below.

 

 

Introducing Android Q

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Introducing Android Q

 

Pie is still on its way out to most of the world, but today we’re going one step further.  Android Q’s first beta has officially launched!  As Android’s developer blog puts it so perfectly: “…mobile innovation is stronger than ever, with new technologies from 5G to edge to edge displays and even foldable screens.  Android is right at the center of this innovation cycle”.

The bug tracker for Q first opened on Monday, and since then we’ve all been waiting expectantly to see its release.  Now that it’s here let’s take a look at some of the things it has to offer.

Privacy and Security: 

Whenever we’re discussing privacy, one of the first things that comes to mind is location.  We don’t all like the idea of being tracked everywhere we go by 3rdparties.  Currently on Android no app is able to track your location unless you explicitly allow it. Q takes this to the next level by allowing users to grant location based on app usage.  So if you want, no more being tracked when an app isn’t open.  This could be useful for things such as food delivery apps that really have no business monitoring you during other parts of your day.  

Another improvement for user security that revolves around runtime permissions is access to files and media. The Photos and Videos and Audio collections will be featured in a new set of runtime permissions.  And downloads must use the system file picker, allowing the user to decide which download files an app has access to.  This is just another step to help silo information and enhance a user’s experience without having to give an app everything.

Innovative Screens and Experiences:

You’ve undoubtedly seen some of the new foldable phones that have been revealed recently.  They look incredibly fun (unfortunately also incredibly expensive), but it should be no surprise that Q will be accounting for these.  To help users make use of an unfolded device with lots of screen space, changes have been made to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume (we wrote about this in one of our Q hypothesis posts a while back).

In addition, some changes have been made with sharing and setting to speed up a user’s navigation. The process of moving from one app to another to share content has been streamlined with Sharing Shortcuts.  You can also show key system settings insideof your app using a new Settings Panel API.  This uses the Slices feature from Pie and lets you present a modal to users where they can directly access things such as what Wi-Fi they are connected to. No more redirecting users into the Settings app to mess with things!

There are also changes to the camera, media, and graphics utilizing Dynamic Depth.  Using Q users can request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata, and a depth and confidence map all embedded in the same file. The result of this is the possibility to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app.  Or if you want you can create 3D images/photograph things in AR much more accurately.

Getting Q On Your Phone:

As with many of Google’s recent technologies, you can get your hands on it first if you own a Pixel. Beta 1 is available all the way back to the original Pixel/Pixel XL.  Click here to enroll in the Android Q Beta and start playing around with it.  And if you don’t own a Pixel, you can always use the Android Emulator and download a system image via the SDK Manager.

There is a ton to explore for Android Q still since it’s just day 1.  Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

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