This month’s biggest news came from Google I/O 2019. Google recently released their latest Android OS statistics but also released the beta for Android Q. In case you missed it, we have summarized the latest updates and announcements from I/O 2019 and we will overview the Google phone releases from this week!
Let’s start with Android OS statistics
While Gingerbread, ICS, and Jelly Bean operating systems represent less than 3% of the users, the majority of Android users run Android 6.0 and up on their Android phones. Older OS versions are still utilized by a good amount of Android users; Unlike iOS, the number of Android phones is fragmented across a large amount of users on eight different Android OS versions.
Google I/O 2019
This month was also the time for the annual Google I/O event where google announces new hardware and software news. This year the biggest announcement came from the release of the Pixel 3A and 3A XL. Both devices were released in 13 countries this week. Visit Google Store to get a peek at the tech specs of both devices.
With a high price tag, the Pixel 3 isn’t as popular as the latest iPhone XS and Galaxy S10; however, Google recently lowered the price of the Pixel 3 and with those two new devices at a lower price, the goal seems to be to get more of the market share of mobile device users. For more info on the Google Pixel 3A take a look at this review.
Google Pixel 3A Review
Android Q Beta 3
Google released their Android Q Beta 3 platform that addresses major issues within the 2019 technology landscape: improving battery life, accessibility for all tech users, user friendly operating systems, and new security and privacy settings. These new additions will begin to shape a new normal for what consumers see in modern mobile devices.
Android Q Beta 3-Dark Theme
Android’s new feature of “Dark Theme” is here to confront the issue of battery usage on an Android device in dark settings. Instead of users having a white background and black text, which can contribute to battery drain, users will have a dark screen and white text. In the “Dark Theme” setting, users can not only save their battery life by going into a system “Dark Theme” but will also have all proprietary apps and Android apps automatically switched into the “Dark Theme” mode – saving users from the hassle of opening individual apps to turn on this feature. The mode has also been constructed in a way so that developers have an easy option to insert the code to switch their software into “Dark Theme”. Overall, apps will need to be tested for this functionality, and validate that the “Dark Theme” is accurately initiating when prompted to do so.
Android Q Beta 3-Accessibility
The technology industry is becoming more aware of reaching all audiences. The W3C references The Role of Accessibility in a Universal Web, which states that, “For people with disabilities, accessible technology is essential in order to provide equal access to information and interaction and equal opportunity in today’s digital world”. For Google, they are tackling this part of the population with their new Live Caption feature. What is so impressive about this feature is that it will be available across any application. In addition to being available across on all applications, Live Caption does not need internet access to be utilized. This feature is not only useful to those with accessibility complications, but can be useful in various loud or quiet settings, so users can still experience and interact with applications throughout various scenarios. Meaning, users do not have to wait to interact with their technology. Application testing for this accessibility feature will be vital to the success of many different application types. Google is spearheading an area of high demand and applications will therefore need to follow suit. Software companies of all areas can anticipate the need to test using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in the near future.
Android Q Beta- Gestural Navigation and the Back Button
The new Android Q will also offer another feature to help streamline the user browsing and functionality experience on their devices. Users will now have the option to enable the Gestural Navigation and Back Button feature. Previous Android users will note that this is a cleaned-up version of the previous Pie OS of a mixed back button and gestural swipe. In this improved version, users will find that the multitasking view makes it easy to toggle between apps without relying on the 3-button tap navigation from previous versions of the OS. Android users will find this option looks very similar to the successful navigation of iOS devices. The shift could be based on the plan to address the “cult-like” attitude of iOS users. In fact, StatCounter states that from May 2018-May 2019, 55.37% of the US population uses an iOS device.
Although Android is not far from catching up to the success of iOS in the US, this new, sleek browsing functionality will help combat some early struggles of Android’s popularity with the release of this new OS.
Nevertheless, new ways to interact with the OS means new work and thoughtfulness from app developers. Dev teams will need to anticipate content’s compatibility with these new browsing functions. In particular, the new swipe function can disrupt user experiences while in the app. Therefore manual testing to ensure each app’s functionality within this new OS will be vital in this time of transition for both Android OS and applications that depend on a frustration-free environment.
Image source: Google
Android Q Beta- Security and Privacy
Due to recent events, the average mobile device user has become more aware of their privacy in all settings: e-commerce, cloud storage, and general browsing. Android vowed to release 40 different security, privacy, and permission updates with their new launch. These new additions can dramatically impact the way users interact with their phones and applications.
Scoped Storage will address how applications can access external storage. There will now be separate storage files for each specific app. Scoped Storage in particular has received a lot of backlash and has even prompted a petition. Until Android can figure out how to make this a more functional feature, consumers may not see the release of this function on their smart devices.
This is a new concept for Android users. With the release of Android Q Beta 3, users now have the option to deny or permit access to their location. They will receive a message while using the app if they would like their location data shared. Users will also have the option to turn on the setting to always allow their location to be shared while using the app and in the background. iOS users are familiar with the location prompt but for those who are used to the Android OS there will be a learning curve.
Background Activity Starts
Another new function for Android users is the prompt to switch apps. Before, while using an app, it would be an automatic transition into another app login to gain access to data from another application. Now Android users will have the option to turn on “Allow Background Activity Starts” and give access to their data freely depending on the application.
Access to Privacy Settings
With the additional privacy and security settings, Android has made it easier to access information to customize settings. Android users will be able to get to “Privacy” under settings and change settings with their own preferences, and individually select which apps have access to their data and which ones do not. Meaning, users can select which apps automatically share locations and give access to user’s personal data.
Android Q Beta- Digital Well-Being Expansion
Android will be expanding their “Digital Well-Being” Section of their OS, specifically targeting: Parental Controls, Focus Mode, and Notification Assistance.
Parents will now have the option to not only continue monitoring what their children is able to access but will also give parents the ability to control their children’s screen time. With the addition of “Five More Minutes” parents can give their children additional screen time as desired without having to completely redo the permission access.
Even adults can be distracted with their mobile devices. The new Android OS lets teens, adults, and even older generations disable their most distracting apps without completely deleting the application off the phone. Consider this new development a more advanced version of ‘Do Not Disturb’. Selecting ‘Focus Mode’ will grey out distracting apps, which will not give users access for a determined amount of time, meanwhile filtering out notifications. These app timers allow users to not be blocked for an undetermined amount of time and manually have to turn back on their apps, but instead is a simple timer to reopen apps at a designated time–allowing users to set their screen time and get back to studying, working, or simply enjoying each other’s company uninterrupted.
Android users will now have the option to quick reply to texts. This new auto-reply feature will prompt a series of popular text responses to quickly select from the notification screen. Saving users from going into individual text messages to respond.
In addition, Android expanded their use of the “Bubbles” utilized in the Pie OS. These bubbles will be displayed while working in other Android apps, and give users the option to react to the prompted message without closing their current application.
Overall the new Android Q Beta is here to address some glaring discrepancies between the Android OS and the popular iOS streamlined UI. New developments are great for the consumer but can add pressure to the app development cycle, requiring all applications outside of Android’s proprietary store to consider this new user interface. QA testing is a necessity to ensure smooth functionality for the end user. Android application testing specifically needs the most support during this time of transition. Especially Android manufacturers will now need to consider these changes while developing new devices. Nevertheless, Google has already anticipated these challenges and targeted multiple manufacturers attempting to address the issues that could arise from these new OS changes. Time will tell how Android Q will pan out for Android diehards and new users alike.
For more details on new Google OS features please visit here.
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