The next major update for the Android mobile OS is almost here. And perhaps the biggest change is the new naming convention.
Android updates tend to have dessert-themed names, in alphabetical order. But, months before they leave, they are known by codenames. For example, Android Pie was Android P. Before that, Android Oreo was Android O. This year, it's an Android question, and a lot of people were wondering what food to start at 10 and if Google would stick with the dessert theme.
Could you images of quince jelly? Or Quindim? Or Kish? Well, luckily we don't have to put up with everything that's happened, as Google has revealed Android M will be officially called Android 10 when it hits consumers.
Here's what's in Android 10 and when it should arrive.
Android 10 release date
On the Android 10 beta program now live for everyone to check. While it's primarily meant for developers to start working on new features for apps, it's stable enough for fans to run on their devices. This is an easy beta to use, allowing over-the-air updates on available devices. You can learn how to try the Android 10 beta yourself through our dedicated guide right here.
Android 10 will most likely not officially launch to consumers until Pixel 4 is announced, which is expected to happen around October.
Android 10 Features
Not only is Google with dessert names - instead of opting for numbers - but for the first time since 2014, Google has completely changed the look and feel, complete with an updated logo with a green robot head. The actual OS remains the same in terms of looks, but the branding is now clean and playful. You can learn more about this update in the Google video above.
On the surface, Android 10 looks like pie. This is a very common thing.
The AI that powers the Google Assistant can now run locally on your phone. Pixel 4 - and likely Android 10 - will be the next generation of assistant that processes speech to your device at near-zero latency, with transcription that happens in real time even when you don't have a network connection. Google also says this will make it easier for users to understand and control the data assistant.
As part of this work, Android 10 comes with a feature called "live signature". It provides real-time subtitles for everything on your phone where someone is talking, and it all happens locally on the device, meaning no internet connection is required. Subtitles are critical for deaf and hard of hearing people. You can enable this feature in Accessibility settings.
Back buttons, a classic navigation feature in Android, have been ditched in Android 10. In addition, the update includes a full set of gestures so Android users can go beyond buttons, virtual or otherwise. It is not yet enabled by default in the latest beta, however, you still have to go to settings and select the new navigation option.
If this all sounds familiar, that's probably a good reason to do so. It's very iPhone, for example, even if the style is a little different. The bar at the bottom of the screen can be swiped to quickly switch between apps - just like on the iPhone. And you can swipe through to get to the app switcher - a bit like the iPhone. But the idea is to have a more stable experience than Android 9 Pie.
In Pie, there was one home button and a back button, except for the home button was your gesture control. Google clearly felt that the one general/gesture icon and back button was a bit inconsistent.
Improved notification management
Over the past couple of iterations of Android, Google has been working on helping you filter the apps you want to receive notifications from. It learns which apps you fire notifications on a regular basis and then tailor what it shows you.
In Android 10, you get more control over notifications, as shown in the screen above. What can we say, when you swipe from notifications, you can select or mark notifications from this app as "silent" or "alerts" so that you get a signal. If you don't like either, you can click on the "Disable Notifications" option and choose not to be bothered by this app ever again.
This is Google's solution for better multitasking on your phone.
It reminds us of the chat heads of Facebook messenger, but in this implementation for Android 10 there will be a system as a whole. V Android Developers Blog, Google and proposed guidelines for developers to implement this feature, and it allows any application to use the new notification bubbles.
Bubbles work like this: when an alert is received, a tiny round notification will appear on your screen for you to click. For a messaging app, for example, you would tap the notification bubble to view a conversation or reply without launching the entire app. Google suggested that developers managed to use bubbles for notes, arrival times, and calls too.
Users will be able to enable dark mode to darken everything from notifications in settings. Unlike previous dark themes built into the stock Android experience, however, it applies to all apps it supports.
There is a new customizable option that allows you to change the colors of the entire interface. These colors include blue (default), black, green, purple, cinnamon, ocean, space, orchids. They were originally found in the developer options of the first beta. But, in the second beta, a new app has appeared, called "Pixel Themes," which will presumably house the new personalization tool's accent color.
Support folding phone
While technically a feature under the hood, it will help you apps and games to support foldable phones. This directly affects those of you who want to buy, say, the Galaxy Fold. Google even brought out a new android 10 foldable screen emulator so we can see how apps might look on a foldable phone.
Other various improvements
- Google is including restricting access to applications to be photo, video, audio, and video files on devices.
- More control over how to resume apps and pause when running in the background.
- A new settings panel API that will allow developers to push pop-up menus for settings such as Bluetooth, WiFi and NFC, so that users don't have to exit the app, go to settings and back again.
- Improved sharing shortcuts, designed to make targets more obvious when switching to other apps.
- The Google Assistant will be able to do certain things in your favorite apps. I'm thinking, "Hey Google, start working at the Nike Club."
Android 10: Rumors
Screen recordings may come to Android. In an early beta version, this was possible by changing the settings to enable built-in screen recording tool. Unfortunately, this screen recorder has disappeared in the third beta. One redditor asked when to expect her return, and the Android Product Manager UI has revealed in the AMA that it will be back. but probably not until Android 11.
Initially, at the beginning of the Android 11 beta, the screen recording tool worked exactly the same as you need to take a screenshot of an image: by holding down the power button. It may seem like no big deal, but imagine the next time your parents ask how to do something on their Android phones. Instead of explaining, you can easily record your screen, show exactly how, and send a clip.
Early code in Android 10 suggested the update would include support for "gravure type" on-screen interaction, although this has since disappeared.
In theory, you can activate individual actions by pressing harder on the screen. It differs from the usual short press or long press, in that it is based on how hard you press. While this is an exciting inclusion, this isn't the first time we've seen such a feature on a smartphone. We all know that Apple added a pressure-sensitive display to its iPhone line a few years ago and it never took off.