A week before we’re expecting to see the new iPhones and iOS 13 officially launched by Apple, Google has pushed out the first complete, stable release of Android 10 (previously known as Android Q). Pixel phones are going to be first in line for the new mobile OS.
In a blog post, Google VP of Engineering Dave Burke outlined a few of the new features rolling out in Android 10 (we got a teaser of some of these back in May). There’s a new system-wide dark mode, for instance, privacy settings have been tidied up a little, and apps can now be told to only access your location while they’re running (just like on iOS).
Android 10 is more reliant on gestures, by default (how this is actually implemented will depend on the model and manufacturer of your Android phone). Swiping takes you forwards and backwards in apps, and brings up a list of recent apps, tasks that were previously handled by dedicated buttons.
One of the more impressive features on offer is Live Caption: Android 10 will attempt to leverage the power of Google’s AI processing to bring up captions for videos on screen, in real time – just in case you can’t turn the volume up (or have trouble hearing). The feature will even be available on your own videos, Google says, and even when you’re offline.
Various existing features have been tweaked, too. The smart reply options that appear next to incoming messages now recognize Google Maps links and YouTube URLs, for example, and can take you to the relevant app, while any notification can be set to work silently (so it won’t make your phone ring or buzz, and won’t appear on your lock screen).
The OS also introduces official support for foldable phones and 5G connections, reflecting two of the innovations that have dominated the smartphone market in 2019. The Digital Wellbeing app has been added to as well, and now lets you set timers on websites you don’t want to distract you for too long.
As usual there are a host of smaller improvements and modifications too, from a sound amplifier that makes audio clearer through headphones, to an automatic alert that warns you if moisture is detected in the USB port. Like iOS though, Android is such a mature operating system now that major innovations are becoming few and far between.
The big question is: when are you going to get it? As usual, Pixel phones are first in line, stretching all the way back to the original 2013 Pixel. Everyone else will have to wait for news from their device manufacturer – Nokia, OnePlus and LG were some of the phone makers involved in the Android Q beta program, so their devices might be seeing Android 10 sooner rather than later.