Android Q Beta 5 Reaches 'Release Candidate' Status

Google this week distributed the fifth beta of Android Q. According to Google, this build is "very close" to what developers and consumers alike will see in the release version of Android Q later this summer. Google is urging developers to update their apps for Android Q as soon as they possibly can. Here's what app writers need to know. 

First up, Android Q Beta 5 includes the latest system images for Pixel devices and the Android Emulator, as well as the final Android Q developer APIs. Remember, Android Q adopts API level 29. The SDK and associated tools within Android Studio have been available since last month. Google says these encompass all developers need to adjust their apps for Q. 

The big changeroo this time around has caused some hub-bub. Beta 5 introduced new navigation gestures. Though Google says it has been working with its hardware partners to ensure the gestures are widely implemented, the experience in Beta 5 has left many scratching their heads. New handles appear in the lower left and right corners of the display. Google says this change "lets apps use the full screen for content while minimizing the visible system chrome and navigation." Support for full-screen functionality is increasingly important considering the edge-to-edge displays on the majority of today's phones. Google briefly paused distributing the beta to address some confusion with these gestures, but it's wholly on now. 

What do the gestures entail? A new swipe gesture from the corner handles calls up Google Assistant. Apps that rely on the navigation drawer can be "peeked" with a new card-based User Interface. Google says this new behavior is compatible with all versions of DrawerLayout. 

Unfortunately, Google says this new UI paradigm will likely break custom launchers. That's why Beta 6 will re-introduce the three-button navigation with which many Android users are familiar. (Google is still seeking feedback on this change.)

As per the norm, developers who've enrolled their devices in the beta program should already have access to OTA downloads of Android Q Beta 5. Developers who have not yet updated to the latest version of Android Studio need to upgrade in order to access the latest SDK and included APIs. 

Google has yet to name Android Q, nor has it provided a firm release date. If we judge by Google's 2018 release of Android 9 Pie, Android Q should arrive as a 1.0 release before September. Are your apps ready?

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: iOS 13, iPadOS Nearly Ready for Release