Everything new in Android Q Beta 4 for the Google Pixel
It’s that time of the month again. A new beta of Android Q has been released for the Google Pixel phones and is now set to roll out to a number of devices, including the OnePlus 6/6T, the Xiaomi Mi 9, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, and some newly-launched ones such as the OnePlus 7, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro. As we’ve moved closer and closer to the finalized product, it has started taking shape and looking better and better. Android Q Beta 4 includes the finalized API 29, which means that developers can now comfortably delve into Q territory as the newest betas will include the final APIs and features, and it’s now just bug fixing and stability improvements from here.
This should serve as the last update before we see a release candidate, so it’s already pretty huge by itself. But what exactly does it bring to the table? Today, we’re diving into Android Q Beta 4 to see what it’s all about.
Notification channels screen gets redesigned
Throughout the past Android Q betas, we’ve seen Google play around with the way notifications behave in an attempt to switch things up a bit and revamp notifications in Android Q. Several of Android Q’s changes we’ve showcased for the past few months have to do with notifications, and with the fourth beta, this is no different, as there are several notification-related changes.
One of them is a slight redesign to the notification channels menu, which now looks simpler and easier to use. The checkboxes and gear icons are replaced for contextual icons and toggles. These icons represent the priority level: a blue icon indicates a low priority notification while an orange icon indicates a high-priority one. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.
Rotation Lock button floats with gesture navigation
On Android Pie’s current “half-baked” gesture navigation system, a contextual rotation lock button appears whenever you flip your phone to allow you to switch the device’s orientation when auto-rotation is disabled. This button takes the space where the Recents button used to be with navigation buttons, but with Android Q’s new fully gestural navigation system, there is no such thing as unused space since the space that the navbar used to take is now gone. So where does this rotation button go then?
Android Q beta 4 introduces a fix to this: the button now floats aside the gesture handle. It’s not the best or most elegant solution, but it works alright without invading the navigation system.
Swipe in either direction to dismiss a notification
Another notification-related change actually relates to a complaint I had with previous betas and the fact that Google decided you would only be able to swipe away notifications to the left, with the right side being reserved to snoozing/notification settings. Android Q Beta 2 quickly “fixed” it by allowing users to select which side they wanted to swipe away notifications to, but that still didn’t do, to be honest.
Android Q Beta 4 sees this change completely reverted to the previous Android Pie notification behavior. Bliss.
Snooze notification option returns
And talking about snoozing, it’s now back! In case you were out of the loop, the snoozing feature was removed in the past beta and seemingly replaced for more intelligent notification controls, but in this beta, snoozing is now back, and co-exists with these intelligent notification controls. We’re not sure whether this feature was accidentally removed or intentionally removed and brought back because of user feedback, but who actually cares? It’s back.
Notifications in Dark Mode get color back
The introduction of Android Q’s dark mode also brought a series of bugs with it, as it was to be expected. Since notifications were turned from blinding white to pitch black when toggling the dark mode on, some visual bugs were to be expected. In the past beta, some notifications would lose their accent colors when turned black, but this bug has now been addressed.
Further Dark Mode enhancements
Android Q’s dark mode is meant to cover a broad range of apps and UI elements and ultimately aims to theme, well, everything that’s themeable and turn it dark. That also means we need to get some consistency, and with the past betas, everything looked amazing but some UI aspects remained white, breaking the overall immersion. Android Q Beta 4 fixes some of these things to make everything more consistent.
Among some of these changes, the Google search bar in the Pixel Launcher now turns black when dark mode is enabled. It also brings a series of improvements to the Pixel Launcher in an attempt to make it even more “dark mode-friendly.” Lighter shades of gray, as well as the themed search bar we mentioned earlier, help greatly with consistency when enabling your phone’s dark mode.
Other UI aspects and features, such as the revamped expanded volume menu, also got a darker palette to match. The Dark Theme is also now a simple toggle switch in the Display settings.
Recent apps show Digitial Wellbeing timers
Digital Wellbeing continues to be more tightly integrated into the OS. New in Beta 4 is app timers being shown on top of app previews in the Recents screen. A blue bar across the bottom of the app shows how much time is left.
Pixel Launcher removes “Suggestions”
The Pixel Launcher used to have a feature called “Suggestions” that would suggest apps and app actions in the app drawer and Recents screen. Android Q Beta 4 removes the Suggestions option from the Settings entirely.
Face Authentication shows up in Settings
Face authentication is now becoming standard—partly thanks to Apple, but that’s a story for another day. The truth is that it’s now set to come to Android as an alternative to fingerprint unlocking. While this feature is not live yet, some references to such a feature can be found in the Settings if you search for “face.” You’ll see a couple of references from the Security page, but they can’t be accessed, at least just yet.
Google still has at least one beta to get this working, so you shouldn’t hold your breath right now, especially considering how these ROMs are already using finalized APIs. We might see this coming in a maintenance release or probably even in a future Android version, such as Android R.
More accent color options
With the dark mode, it has become very clear that one of Android Q’s greatest focuses are set on customization and allowing users to have a choice. Android Q Beta 4 comes with new accent colors to allow you to tweak your phone to your liking without needing to go for Substratum or a custom ROM. Customization has never been this easy.
WiFi icon has been redesigned
One of the few UI changes coming with this version is none other than revamped status bar indicators. After all, since Material Design was introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop back in 2014, they’ve only received a minor revamp with Android 8.1 Oreo was introduced (in case you don’t know/remember what the difference is, the corners of each icon were simply slightly rounded and smaller). Some betas ago, we saw a completely redesigned battery icon, which indicated a bigger UI change coming very soon.
And indeed, the WiFi icon was also redesigned in the same fashion. The signal indicator remains the same as in Android Pie, but we should see it change as well in the next beta.
“Sleep” renamed to “Screen timeout”
One of the more subtle changes, Google has renamed “Sleep” in the Settings to “Screen timeout.” While it never seemed confusing, the new name does better describe the purpose of the setting.
Lock icon on the lockscreen moved to the top of the display
Since Android Lollipop, the lock icon on the lockscreen has been at the bottom. We’ve seen the lockscreen go through countless changes since then, including the removal of lockscreen shortcuts, the style of the notifications, and many more things. This lock icon is now being swapped over to the top of the display, looking more similar to the iPhone X/XS/XR or phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Lockscreen reveals “sensitive content” when unlocked
Android has had the ability to hide “sensitive content” on the lockscreen for a while now. This makes it so people can’t see the contents of your notifications if they look at your lockscreen. Now, in Android Q Beta 4, there’s more nuance to the option. The content will be shown if your phone is unlocked. That means if your phone is unlocked from Smart Lock or you just don’t have a screen lock method, it will show the contents.
New animation for entering and exiting menus
New animations are also in order for Android Q Beta 4, and just in time for gesture navigation. Now, when entering and going back in menus inside an app, the animation has been changed a bit to match the way gestures flow around the UI. Some people have described these transitions to be “elastic-y.”
Notifications get reorganized with new “Adaptive” option
The “Adaptive” branding now comes to notifications as well with Adaptive Notifications. Much in the same fashion as features like Adaptive Battery, which employ AI to try and optimize your battery’s performance, Adaptive Notifications use AI to organize your notifications better by automatically prioritizing them. It looks like a neat feature, and we can’t wait to know more about it.
Bubbles moved from Developer Options
If you recall our previous round-ups, you’d know that Android Q brings a new “bubbles” feature that pretty much imitates the functionality of Facebook Messenger’s chat heads, but does not leverage features like screen overlays, doing everything natively instead. The end goal was to bring it to not just chat apps, but many other general-usage apps.
Bubbles will probably not be ready for primetime with the final version of the OS, but users will be able to play around with it at least, as the feature is now available in the “notifications” section of the Settings menu. As of now, though, it doesn’t work with any app, but this might change in the long road.
“Back” gesture icon is slimmed down
This is a small change, literally. The icon that appears when you do the Back gesture has been slimmed down. The animation also feels a little snappier.
Screen Pinning disabled with full gesture navigation
One of the issues that arose with the full gesture navigation in Android Q is the Screen Pinning functionality. Without the navigation buttons, there was no way to unpin an app. That’s a big problem. What’s the fix? Well, right now the solution is to simply remove Screen Pinning altogether. Hopefully, they get it sorted out.
Preview Live Wallpapers button
Last but not least, you can now preview live wallpapers inside the Google Wallpapers app, with a full-screen preview mode with a “Preview” checkbox in the corner.
Did we miss anything? Let us know down in the comments.