Yesterday, the Android team announced the official release of Android 10 for its Pixel users. It explores many new features like gesture navigation, dark theme, smart reply, live captioning, new emojis and more. Android 10 also focuses on privacy improvements and security updates.
— Android (@Android) September 3, 2019
In a blog post, the senior director of product management for Android, Stephanie Cuthbertson says, “Android 10 is built around three important themes. First, Android 10 is shaping the leading edge of mobile innovation with advanced machine-learning and support for emerging devices. Next, Android 10 has a central focus on privacy and security, with almost 50 features that give users greater protection, transparency, and control. Finally, Android 10 expands users’ digital wellbeing controls so individuals and families can find a better balance with technology.”
Android 10 will be rolled out in all the three generations of Pixel phones (Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 2, and the original Pixel) immediately, while other Pixel devices will get an update over the next week. Many partner devices, including those involved in Android’s Beta program, are expected to receive an update by the end of 2019. The Android team has also released the source code for Android 10 to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is a repository that offers all the necessary information to create a custom variant of an Android OS, and accessories for the Android platform.
Prior to this stable release, Android 10, previously nicknamed as Android Q had six beta releases. The Android Q Beta 6 was released last month.
Let’s have a look at some of the new features in Android 10.
Android 10 presents a full gesture navigation mode which showcases an ‘edge to edge’ display. This feature enables users to navigate back (left/right edge swipe), to the home screen (swipe up from the bottom), and trigger the device assistant (swipe in from the bottom corners) with only gestures, rather than buttons.
“By moving to a gesture model for system navigation, we can provide more of the screen to apps to enable a more immersive experience,” says Android UI product managers Allen Huang and Rohan Shah.
The Android team has provided proof that their users rely on the Black button, 50% more than the Home button. In a statement to WIRED, Google vice president of Android engineering Dave Burke said that he believes the new gesture control will make it easier for users to use a smartphone with just one hand.
Following Apple’s footsteps, Android has also introduced a Dark theme in Android 10. The system-wide dark theme will reduce power usage by a significant amount. It aims to improve visibility for users with low vision and those who are sensitive to bright light.
Google applications like YouTube, Google Fit, Google Keep, and Google Calendar will be available in dark mode right away. However, Gmail and Chrome will be able to support the dark theme only by the end of this month.
Android 10 also provides a Force Dark feature which will implement the dark mode, without explicitly setting a DayNight theme. It analyzes each view of a light-themed app to convert it into a dark theme, even before it is drawn to the screen.
Smart Reply in notifications
Android 10 uses on-device machine learning to suggest actions, called ‘smart reply’ based on the content of the notification. It may include suggestions to open applications like Maps, Chrome or Youtube depending on the context of the message received.
The Android team says, “We’ve built this feature with user privacy in mind, keeping the ML processing completely on the device.” The smart reply feature is expected to work across all popular messaging apps. Users can also opt-out of this feature, if not interested.
Live captioning for audios and videos in mobiles
The live caption feature will caption real time videos, podcasts, audio messages, and even manual recordings, without any wifi or cell phone data. It uses a local speech analyzer technique to identify the voices on the device. Unlike other features, live caption is not ready yet, and will be launched later this year, particularly for Pixel devices only..
Foldables to extend multitasking
Android 10 supports foldable devices with different folding patterns. The blog post states, “Android 10 extends multitasking across app windows and provides screen continuity to maintain your app state as the device folds or unfolds.” Android developers believe that unfolding the device to provide a larger screen will provide users with “a more immersive experience.” Unfortunately, there are no foldable phones in the market currently.
New privacy features in Android 10
Giving users more control over location data: Users have more control over location data in Android 10. They can choose from the following three options to decide about location access to an app.
- All the time: The app can access location at any time
- While in use: The app can access location only while the app is being used/ present in the foreground
- Deny: The app cannot access location at all
Protecting location data in network scans: Android 10 increases the protection around scanning network APIs. Some telephony, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi APIs will now need the fine location permission (ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION) in order to use several methods within the Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Aware, or Bluetooth APIs.
Preventing device tracking: Android 10 will not allow applications to access the non-resettable device identifiers which could have been used for tracking previously.
Security updates in Android 10
Storage encryption: All compatible devices launching with Android 10 will have to encrypt user data. This stable version of Android presents a new encryption mode called Adiantum which provides encryption with very little performance overhead.
TLS 1.3 by default: TLS 1.3 is a major revision to the TLS standard with performance benefits and enhanced security.
Platform hardening: Android 10 includes hardening for several security-critical areas of the platform, and updates to the BiometricPrompt framework which manages system-provided biometric dialog.
Users love the new features in Android 10, especially the dark mode and live captioning.
Dark theme I think is the biggest change obviously and I welcome that. Better for on the eyes and battery
— TheFreshPrince (@CourtMejias) September 4, 2019
Dark mode is what I'm hyped for 👌
— Rongbin Gu (@rongbin99) September 4, 2019
Live captions in video recorder
— Nooshith (@Nooshith4) September 4, 2019
Few users found the new gesture navigation feature of Android 10 similar to iPhones.
The new Android 10 gestures are eerily similar to the one on iPhones. And you know what? That's not necessarily a bad thing. pic.twitter.com/8cpSf1ePLP
— Ershad Kaleebullah (@r3dash) September 4, 2019