Android 11 Has Made Its Debut

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Android 11 Has Made Its Debut

 

Gone are the days of Android versions with dessert themed names.  But by no means does that mean the end of Android!  Google is still keeping to their schedule of a new version every year, and 2020 marks the year of Android 11.  It won’t have a fun name, but this version may contain some long-awaited features for the world’s most popular operating system.

Android 11 Today:

Google has launched their first developer preview of Android 11.  What does this mean?  It doesn’t actually mean that you have to be a developer to view it, just that you can’t download the new version in the traditional sense.  Instead you can utilize the system images for Google’s Pixel devices to flash the software onto your phone.  For more detail on that check out this post.

Let’s take a look at what 11 is going to bring to the table. Google’s VP of Engineering Dave Burke spoke about it saying “With Android 11 we’re keeping our focus on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while continuing to keep privacy and security a top priority.”  The version is focused on helping manage sensitive files in an era where privacy feels non-existent.  For permissions that typically require user approval, Google is expanding their “Just this once” option to features such as accessing your contacts or camera.  Something introduced last year for locations that has proven to be useful.

New Developer APIs:

Android 11 actually seems to be bringing a lot of new features to the table right out of the box.  New APIs available to developers include 5G bandwith estimates, conversation sections in the notification shade, and fun chat bubbles that behave similarly to the Facebook chat we’ve all more than likely used in the past.

There are also improvements on existing features such as dark mode and NFC.  This will hopefully help with the issue of jumping back and forth between apps that have/have not implemented dark mode (it’s tough on your pupils!).  And an expansion on Project Mainline will allow Google to update key components of the OS via the Google Play Store instead of waiting for device manufacturers to release full rollouts.  More updates = better user experiences.

When we’ll learn more:

Unfortunately Google I/O has been cancelled this year as an in-person event, but the online portion will still be available.  It’s always a great event to see the new pieces of tech that Google has been working on both. We’re sure to learn more about Android 11 in May, so stay tuned to hear updates then.

What are your thoughts on what the latest Android version has to offer? It’s still being refined and will likely be officially available in Q3 of 2020.  While it’s just “Android 11”, we’d technically be on R.  So if you want to brainstorm what a good dessert would be for this version’s name let us know in the comments below!

Android Quits on Q

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Android Quits on Q

Well, Android Q has officially been named.  At least, the next version of Android has been named.  In a shocking turn of events Google has decided to move away from its tradition of naming the OS after desserts.  Instead of any Q-esque dessert, Android 10 has been announced.  After 10 years of dessert names, it’s all numbers from here on.

Android 10:

With Android 10 as the next version, things will simply increment up from here (11 and so on).  I guess it had to come to an end eventually, but I think it’s safe to say most of us expected this to happen closer to Z than Q. The world needs more desserts!

As for whythe naming pattern changed, it’s not just because Q is a hard letter to match with a dessert.  Google’s VP of product management for Android said that it’s because desserts aren’t inclusive enough.  “We have some good names, but in each and every case they leave a part of the world out.”

Android is a global brand, and as such they don’t want to pick desserts that are regional and other people can’t relate to.  At least that’s what they say…I still think no one could come up with the right thing for Q!

Android’s Rebranding:

While the naming convention has changed, don’t worry!  The classic Android robot still exists.  He received an updated logo but it’s nothing too drastic. A few small tweaks for him and some larger changes for the Android word itself.  Now in all black, the logo is supposed to be more readable on small devices.  Changing it to a sleek black will help with that issue.

And of course it wouldn’t be any fun if the images were just introduced and then that was it.  Here’s a fun little video released by Android showing off the new look. The video emphasizes heavily that we’ve been growing together as a community, and that shouldn’t stop anytime soon.  While it’s a little cheesy, I have to agree with the sentiment.  There is a sort of bond between Android users and especially as a developer it’s been really fun to watch it change over the years.  Here’s hoping Android 10 continues that trend!

What are your thoughts on the new naming convention?  How about the logo?  Let us know in the comments below.

Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

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Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

Android Q has been out since March steadily progressing through its betas.  This week Q hit its last step in the refinement process with the release of the final beta 6.  The official release is “a few weeks away” at this point, but if you’re interested in exploring Q early there’s no better time than the present!

Changes With 6:

Spoiler Alert: there aren’t that many changes in the new version.   Final APIs for developers were locked down in beta 4, so 5 and this new version are mostly bug fixes and small tweaks.   But one big change is with gesture navigation.  The back gesture has received a bit of a makeover.  Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“We’ve made further refinements to Gesture Navigation in Beta 6 based on user feedback. First, to ensure reliable and consistent operation, there’s a 200dp vertical app exclusion limit for the Back gesture. Second, we’ve added a sensitivity preference setting for the Back gesture.”

To non-developers the 200dp may not make sense, but the concept is fairly simple.  Apps have the option to opt out of the back button gesture navigation, but only to an extent.  They’re only allowed to stop the back gesture for 200 “density-independent pixels”.  The idea behind this is to make things easier if you’re in an app that involves horizontal scrolling.  We don’t want a user to accidentally go back when they’re just trying to scroll through a list.

Feedback on Gestures:

Another somewhat confusing part of the left-side gesture recognition is that some apps have drawers you can open from this side.  On trick you can use to view these instead of accidentally going back in the OS is swiping to the right but also up at a 45 degree angle.  Not really something you should have to distinguish between as it feels like bad design, but that’s how things currently are.

Google says that feedback has played a lot into the gesture changes they’ve made with Q, and hopefully it works out in a manner that feels fluid and easy to use.  Every beta seems to have had a different version of gestures, so Google only has so long to get it all right!

There are currently dozens of different navigation styles in the Android ecosystem thanks to the fact that not all phones are made in house by Google.  But this is about to0 change with the release of Q.  Google announced at I/O this year that gesture navigation will be standardized and that other phones must adhere to it in order to run Android OS.  This will be a very welcome change for anyone who has felt lost swapping from one phone to another.  But it’s also high stakes to make sure that things are done right.

Getting Q Today:

System images for this beta are currently available for all Pixel devices.  If you have one then you’ll be running on Q soon enough, but if you’re looking to play around right away then go set it up and let us know what you think in the comments below.  We also still don’t know what Q’s snack name is.  It’s probably the most important part of any software, so stay tuned for that!

 

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