Google just gave certain Android users an early glimpse at its next major mobile software update, Android Q. The company exclusively seeded the first developer beta for the next major version of Android on all Pixel smartphones Wednesday. The bulk of the changes are relatively subtle, but there are a handful of features that early adopters will want to take for a test ride.
Foldable phone compatibility and privacy improvements were main additions that Dave Burke, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, chose to highlight in his blog post breaking down the beta. But hidden within the settings menu, Android users will find a handful of new features and customization options as well as hints about what banner upgrades could be coming later this Spring.
Google I/O, the company’s annual developers conference, is scheduled to kick off on May 7 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. That’s likely where the company will deliver a finalized list of the changes coming to Android Q. Consider the Android Q beta, then, as something of a preview.
5. Android Q Beta Hidden Features: Native Screen Recording
One gripe that users switching from iOS to Android might notice is the lack of a native screen recording option. Based on the beta, it looks like Android Q will rectify this by finally adding the feature, which will make third-party screen grab apps a thing of the past. As you can see in the video below, it works great.
To access the feature, navigate to the System menu and tap open the Developer options subsection. Scroll down to the Feature flag and turn on the “settings_screenrecord_long_press” setting.
Next, hold down the lock button until the power menu appears, and long press on the Screenshot option to start recording your screen. Users can finally stop relying on advertisement-heavy apps for a feature that’s a basic functionality on all iPhones.
For good measure, it also looks like Google added an “Emergency” button to the power menu to make it easier to quickly call 911 if users ever need to.
4. Android Q Beta Hidden Features: Easily Share Your Wifi Password
This one’s bound to be helpful: A new feature allows users to easily share your wifi password with friends in a process that’s not unlike adding someone on Snapchat. This could also have the added benefit of making wifi networks safer, since there will be less reason to come up with a memorable password that’s easier for people to guess.
To share your wifi password, simply open the Network & internet menu under the Settings app, then tap wifi, and select your current network. Under this menu, you’ll see a Share button that brings up a QR code that your friend can scan to copy your wifi password to their phone.
At long last, you won’t have to read out a jumble of letters and numbers to your friends eight times when they visit your place.
3. Android Q Beta Hidden Features: New Colors, Icon Shapes, and Fonts
On the aesthetic side, Pixel users can now customize their home screen and app icons with a set of new colors, shapes, and fonts. To access all of these new options, navigate to the Developer options menu again and scroll all the way down until you see the “Theming” subhead.
From here you can set your accent colors to black, green, or purple. Icon shapes can be set to resemble teardrops, “squircles,” or rounded rectangles. And even the font can be changed to Noto Serif for a more personal touch.
It also seems more than likely that Google will add more options as the official launch date for Android Q draws closer, so expect more customization options in the future.
2. Android Q Beta Hidden Features: Smarter Sharing Menu
Before Android Q, sharing links required more than a few taps and often left users scrolling through their contacts list to find exactly who they wanted to send an article or recipe to. Mercifully, the sharing menu is now much snappier, and provides a list of contacts across multiple apps that Google thinks you’d like to send a link to.
This will save you many clicks, and it also looks like Google’s A.I. will recommend different contacts depending on what link you want to share, which is pretty nifty. So if you opt to share, say, a meme, it’ll populate the list with your most regrettably-online contacts, while trying to share recipes or family photos will likely conjure up whichever of your friends has developed the most basic life skills.
1. Android Q Beta Hidden Features: Desktop Mode
One of the most audacious upgrades can now turn your Pixel into something that resembles a full-fledged laptop. But to make use of this new feature, users will need to flex a bit of coding prowess by running an Android emulator.
Start by installing [Android Debug Bridge (ADB)])(https://www.xda-developers.com/install-adb-windows-macos-linux/). Next, you’ll need to run the following lines of code to activate the dormant feature in the Android Q framework:
Non-GMS: adb shell am start -n “com.android.launcher3/com.android.launcher3.SecondaryDisplayLauncher”
GMS: adb shell am start -n “com.google.android.apps.nexuslauncher/com.android.launcher3.SecondaryDisplayLauncher”
Once launched, users will be able to run multiple apps side-by-side and manually resize their windows however they’d like. This could be signs that Google is furthering its development of Fuchsia, a rumored operating system that’s said to work across mobile, laptop, and desktop devices. Desktop Mode is still fully Android, but we could hear more about Google’s efforts to bridge large-screen devices with their smartphone counter parts come I/O.
Android Q Beta: How to Get the Update
If you want a shot at trying out these features yourself, head over to the Android enrollment page to get started.
Once a device is deemed eligible, you’ll need to open the Settings app, scroll down to System, tap Advanced, and open the System update menu to download and install the beta. The total file size is a little over a gigabyte, so make sure to connect to wifi to avoid putting a major dent in your monthly data plan.
Like any beta software, Google warns interested users that early adopters could encounter errors and bugs that can alter basic device functionality. Make sure to backup up a previous version of your device, so that in the event of a major beta failure you’ll be able to restore it back to normal. Follow’s Google’s backup guide to prepare for the Android Q beta.