Android 10 will save your battery with its Dark Theme

Google has unveiled several new features for the upcoming tenth release of its Android mobile operating system — Android Q. Stephanie Cuthbertson, the director of product management for Android, made the announcement on 7 May at Google I/O in Mountain View, California.

Cuthbertson confirmed that Android Q will be receiving a Dark Theme, which she said was not only a highly requested feature, but something that will save battery power.

“Your [screen] is the most power-hungry component in your phone,” Cuthbertson said. “The fewer pixels you need to light up, the less battery you use.”

Security and privacy

The next version of Android will also be able to deliver security updates faster.

This will be possible in Android Q because Google will be making a set of operating system modules updatable through downloadable security patches .

“With Android Q, we’ll update important OS components in the background, similar to the way we update apps,” said Cuthbertson.

“This means that you can get the latest security fixes, privacy enhancements and consistency improvements as soon as they’re available, without having to reboot your phone.”

More frequent security updates is one of almost fifty new features and changes in Android focused on security and privacy.

“For example, we created a dedicated Privacy section under Settings, where you’ll find important controls in one place,” Cuthbertson said. “Under Settings, you’ll also find a new Location section that gives you more transparency and granular control over the location data you share with apps.”

Google has also previously announced that you will be able to choose to share location data with apps only while they’re in use. You will receive reminders when an app has your location in the background, so you can decide whether or not to continue sharing.

To protect user information, Android Q will limit access to device identifiers such as IMEI, serial number, and MAC address, and it will also randomise the device’s MAC address when connected to different Wi-Fi networks by default.

It also lets you control an app’s access to your photos, videos, and other files. Downloads will also require the user to select a location via the system file picker.

Live Caption and on-device machine learning

One of the features that Google spent a lot of time on during the keynote presentation at Google I/O was Live Caption.

It forms parts of the company’s new suite of AI-powered accessibility tools aimed at helping people who are deaf or hard of hearing get a better experience from their devices. Other tools in the suite that were not mentioned as part of Android Q were: Live Transcribe, Live Relay, and Project Euphonia.

For Live Captions, Cuthbertson said that Google worked closely with the deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media.

Live Caption automatically captions media that’s playing audio on your phone across any app. It works with videos, podcasts, and audio messages include media that you record yourself.

“As soon as speech is detected, captions will appear, without ever needing Wi-Fi or cell phone data, and without any audio or captions leaving your phone.”

The technology is possible thanks to a breakthrough in speech recognition that has allowed Google to dramatically reduce the size of its artificial intelligence models. It was also able to fit the recurrent neural network used to perform the captioning in just 80MB, said Cuthbertson.

“On-device machine learning also powers Smart Reply, which is now built into the notification system in Android, allowing any messaging app to suggest replies in notifications,” she said.

“Smart Reply will now also intelligently predict your next action—for example, if someone sends you an address, you can just tap to open that address in Maps.”

Focus Mode

Android Q parental control and focus

Cuthbertson also highlighted a set of digital wellbeing tools that were introduced in Android last year, such as app timers and Wind Down.

Android Q will be introducing Focus Mode, which is intended to help you focus on tasks without distraction.

“You can select the apps you find distracting—such as email or the news—and silence them until you come out of Focus mode,” Cuthbertson said.

“And to help children and families find a better balance with technology, we’re making Family Link part of every device that has Digital Wellbeing (starting with Android Q), plus adding top-requested features like bonus time and the ability to set app-specific time limits.”

Foldable displays

Cuthbertson reiterated an earlier Google announcement that Android Q would be designed to support future foldable devices, like those announced by Samsung and Huawei.

This includes seamless switching between folded and unfolded views, and ensuring good multitasking performance. This includes pausing and resuming multiple apps, and enhancing the resizing of to improve performance when switching between display modes.

Beta more widely available

Cuthbertson announced that the beta for Android Q has expanded to 21 different devices from 13 brands. Previously it was only available on Google’s own Pixel phones.

Other brands now participating in the beta include are Huawei, LG, Nokia, Sony, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Asus, and Oppo.

Jan Vermeulen is a guest of Google at I/O 2019 in Mountain View.

Now read: 5 of the best hidden features in Android 9

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Android 10 will save your battery with its Dark Theme