The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system has started rolling out. Here’s what you’ll see when you upgrade.
Google has just released the latest version of its new operating system for Android phones, Android 10. The OS version has been available as a beta release under the name Android Q, but this makes it the first time in 10 years that the mobile operating system doesn’t have a dessert-themed name.
Google made the switch in the name with an aim to be more globally inclusive and not because picking a Q-named dessert was too difficult. But there’s no doubt that some of its new features are still pretty sweet!
On Google’s original roadmap published a few months ago, the company said that it would ship the next version of its mobile operating system in the third quarter of this year which ends in September.
Yesterday, the Silicon Valley company announced the rollout of the 10th version of Android and also updated Android’s official website with the new logo announced last month and more information about the next evolution of Android.
Though, not all smartphones will be receiving Android 10 immediately.
For a start only the owners of Google’s own Pixel smartphones will be able to update their device to the latest version, this includes:
- Google Pixel
- Google Pixel XL
- Google Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel 3
- Google Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a
- Google Pixel 3a XL
The Android 10 update should already be waiting for you if you bought an unlocked version of the Google Pixel. But, if you bought your Google Pixel from a wireless operator, you’ll have to wait for the carrier to roll it out.
What to expect on Android 10
Here are some of the features to look forward to in Android 10, some of which have been available in the prerelease, plus a couple that were not. Furthermore, keep note that not all of these features are launching right away. When they do they might also just be available only on Google’s own Pixel devices first as mentioned above.
New Gesture Navigation
Considering that last year’s release of Android 9 included the most significant changes to the Android navigation bar since Android 4.0; 2019, Google is going all-in on gesture navigation, as more and more smartphones ship with “edge-to-edge” displays and lose their chins at the bottom.
Essentially, the company wants to standardize gesture navigation across Android phones and this seems to be controversial in some sort of way.
For instance: On Android 9 Pie, you’d swipe up from the “pill” at the bottom of the screen to view recently-opened apps (less the same as to how you access recent apps on the iPhones without Home buttons). However, there was still a Back button to the left of that pill. Currently, with Android 10, that Back button has been substituted with a side-swipe gesture, which is sometimes confusing.
Google explained this change by stating that Android users rely on the Back button 50 percent more than they do the Home button, thus the company wanted to design this new Back feature to be in the most reachable places on the phone’s screen.
More Dark Mode
We got a system-wide “dark mode” with the rollout of Android 9 Pie, although it applied only to certain elements of the user interface, like a Settings panel and some other menus.
On Android 10, dark mode will apply to both the system UI and specific apps as long as you opt-in. Also on a Pixel running Android 10, if you activate the battery-saving setting, dark mode will be enabled by default.
As from yesterday, September 3, YouTube, Google Fit, Google Keep, and Google Calendar will be available in dark mode. Later this month, Gmail and Chrome will support it too. All of these were spotted in beta versions of the Android 10 OS.
Apple and Google have been building more accessibility features directly into their mobile operating systems and with Android 10, Google is rolling out something called Live Captioning.
This is different from Live Transcribe which is another accessibility feature that Google rolled out on Pixel phones earlier this year. It transcribes audio as it’s being shared in your immediate environment. Live Captioning, on the other hand, applies the text to prerecorded videos, such as one your friend just messaged you.
The feature relies on an entirely new, local speech analyzer that recognizes speech on the device. Unfortunately, Live Captioning is also only available only on Pixel devices first and launches later this fall.
Nevertheless, Google says it’s working with other phone manufacturers to bring this to your Android devices. The downside is that no timeline has been given on when that will happen.
The OS will also include a new kind of support for professional hearing aids. It will allow those who wear listening devices to connect to the phone over a specific Bluetooth channel rather than the standard Bluetooth low-energy. It’s supposed to be a more efficient and battery-friendly way of connecting to services on Android.
Privacy and Security
Two of the most user-friendly updates on Android 10 include changes to the way location data is handled in apps and a new approach to making security fixes available.
Android 10 will allow you to select an option to have your location tracked only while you’re using the app rather than just turning off app location-tracking completely. Similarly, Apple is rolling out new location-tracking guardrails in iOS 13, giving users the option of an “allow once” permission.
The play store will be refreshed in such a way that privacy security updates for Android will be sent directly through it rather than users having to wait for entire OS updates before they can access the new features.
Digital Well-Being Expands
According to Google, Android users who have started setting usage timers on apps, a feature that was ushered in with Android 9 Pie, stick to their goals 90 percent of the time.
On Android 10 Google’s Digital Wellbeing initiative will expand, and thanks to Family Link, parents can monitor their kids’ activities from within the Digital Wellbeing app other than having to install or open a separate app.
Back when Android 10 was originally announced at Google I/O in May, a few other features in it didn’t get much attention; like Google highlighting more gender-inclusive emoji.
Google typically rolls out major operating system updates over the course of a few days, so your Pixel phone might not get an update alert right away. But to check on it, you can go to Settings -> System -> Advanced -> System Update.
In the meantime, other Android device manufacturers will announce their rollout plans for Android 10 upgrades separately. This will most likely take weeks or months for the upgrade to arrive in many non-Pixel devices.
Google promised that it is “working with a number of partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 10 this year”. The initial set beyond Pixel phones are likely to include the following devices, which were part of the Android 10 beta:
- Essential Phone – 3 Sept 2019
- Sony Xperia XZ3
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro
- Tecno Spark 3 Pro
- LG G8
- Vivo X27
- Nokia 8.1
- Vivo NEX S
- OnePlus 6T
- Vivo NEX A
- Oppo Reno
- Xiaomi Mi 9
- Asus ZenFone 5Z
- Realme 3 Pro
- Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G
Some devices, including older ones, may not even get the update, but lets wait and see.