To celebrate the 10th major release of Android, Google has a present for all of us: a dark theme. After several starts and stops and half-efforts, Google is finally bringing full dark mode to all Android Q phones, and from what we’ve seen, it’s glorious.
But while dark mode will probably be the most popular feature of Android Q, it’s only a small part of what the next-generation OS will deliver. From security and privacy to folding screens and 5G, Android Q is packed with features that will transform your phone. Here are the six features we’re most excited about (other than that sweet, sweet dark theme) after witnessing the Google I/O keynote on Tuesday:
If you’ve ever been in a quiet room and needed to watch a video, Live Caption will be a game-changer. Now, instead of lowering the volume and holding the phone up to your ear while taking your eyes off the screen, Live Caption will create automatic real-time caption for anything you watch: YouTube videos, podcasts, audio messages, even videos you record yourself. It works across all apps and automatically starts as soon as speech is detected. And since it’s all done locally on your phone, you don’t even need a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to use it.
Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing feature has offered an eye-opening look at how often we unlock our phones and open our favorite apps, but actually doing something to curb our phone use is another story. That’s why Google is launching Focus Mode in Android Q. An easy way to quickly turn off distracting apps, Focus Mode is like putting Twitter and Candy Crush into time out. With a few taps, you’ll be able to identify which apps are sucking up the most time and temporarily silence them while you need to get some work done. And when it’s time to play again, another tap will turn them back on.
Boot-less security updates
We love that phone manufacturers have continuously gotten better at pushing timely security updates to our phones, but having to reboot every time one arrives can be tedious—if you even bother do it at all. That’s changing with Android Q, which is bringing nearly 50 new privacy and security features. Now the most important updates will happen silently in the background, so our phones stay up to date even if we don’t have time for a restart.
Easy privacy controls
Your Google account has lots of privacy controls built into it, but they’re not so easy to find. To change a settings or limit data, you had to go to the Google tab in Settings, then Google Account, Data & personalization, and finally Privacy and Activity controls. All those steps are a thing of the past with Android Q, as Google has now created a dedicated Privacy tab near the top of Settings, so you’ll be able to find it and access your privacy settings with one tap, not five.
Built-in parental controls
Digital Wellbeing is great for keeping track of our own phone use, but managing your child’s Android phones and tablets requires a whole separate app called Family Link, with its own setup process. In Android Q, Google is building Family Link’s remote management features right into the Settings app, so parents can quickly find and use them to keep tabs on what their kids are watching and how long they’ve been watching it. And with new features such as bonus time and app-specific time limits, you and your kids can find a perfect balance between family time and game time.
Android Pie introduced a new way to navigate using gestures, but Google still left some vestiges of the old way lying around—namely the back button. Now that’s going away too. In Android Q, Google will be going all-in with a new swipe gesture. When you want to go back a screen, just swipe from the left side of the screen. It’ll take some getting used to after 10 years of the back button, but we’re 100 percent on board with the change.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.