Android 10 not only brings the top of the range features, but it also abandons the dessert-based naming scheme that Android has embraced for the last number of years. Android 10, or Android Q, consists of many much-anticipated features (cough System-wide Dark Theme, cough). Typically, it can take a few weeks, even months, before new versions of Android make their way to non-Google devices. In a much-welcomed change, however, this hot new update is immediately available for more than just Google devices. The Essential Phone, the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro in some areas, and OnePlus have all joined the early release schedule. OnePlus has an “Open beta” for the OnePlus 7 and 7 pro. Although many others are to follow, Samsung, notably, is absent from the list. We may not see Android 10 on Samsung smartphones for several months to come.
System-Wide Dark Mode
Perhaps one of the weirdest yet quirky requests of modern technology is Dark Themes. Chrome extensions, changing Windows colour settings, downloading mobile themes: Everyone wants a Dark Theme, so much so that even Apple implemented one for MacOSX High Sierra last year. Now, Android has officially joined in the trend. Android 10 has a System-wide dark theme, with optional support from various applications. There is also a tile on the pulldown menu for toggling it.
Of course, the dark theme was always possible on Android smartphones. OnePlus has their own take on it, Samsung supported it through themes, Huawei has a take on it. But it’s nice to finally have a fully supported one built into general Android.
Android 10 brings a whole new revamped gesture system to the operating system. Full-screen Gesture Navigation makes better use of that little pale bar introduced in Android Pie. You can now access Google Assistant and much more through gestures.
Smart replies allow you to reply to some notifications, such as messages and tweets, without opening the application. This is done through the notification panel. Previously, these were only supported by a few bigger apps – Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp etc. Now, in Android 10, there is support for much more than previously available – thanks to Google’s use of on-device machine learning. This, in turn, reduces the stress of opening links in the wrong application or having to copy and paste links to view them in the desired medium.
Finally, Android has brought a means of organising your notifications. You can assign certain notification types to certain types of notification – you no longer need to worry about all those Messenger group chats making an orchestra out of your phone while you wait for an important WhatsApp message. You can decide whether an app has a general notification (sound + vibrate), a silent notification (one that just pops up in your notification box), or no notification (where all notifications from an app are blocked. Not only does this improve the general purpose of social media notifications, but it also optimises the likes of Smart Watches and inter-device connectivity.
Permissions and general data security seem to be something Google is focusing a lot on lately. You can now choose when an application has access to what kind of data it desires. You can set your bus timetable app to only know your location when you have it open, never in the background. Little details like this are what keep Google at the top of the smartphone food chain.
Parental controls have been improved to be more (or less) restrictive – entirely based upon what the parent wants the user to access. Parents can now connect to a phone remotely, and monitor and control things like the screen-on time, app installs, internet usage, and more importantly, what time the phone automatically shuts off at (bedtime).
Live Caption and Focus Mode
Two smaller features that have slipped under the nose of the public are live captioning for videos and focus mode, to silence distracting apps.
Live Caption is another use of on-device machine learning – its goal is to put real-time captions on all videos, audio messages, podcasts and recordings in any app. It is set to be released on Google Pixel devices later this Autumn.
Focus Mode temporarily mutes certain apps that can be described as distracting. It is currently in beta and is expected to be officially released later in the year.
Get it now!
Android 10 is available for many devices already – check out your smartphone manufacturer’s social media to see when you can get Android 10!