After months-long beta testing, Google has started rolling out the Android 10 software to Pixel handsets – right from the original Google Pixel to the latest Pixel 3a series. It is also expected to run the upcoming Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL out of the box. The software is jam-packed with exciting new features. Let’s check out the most important Android 10 features.
Android 10 was in beta testing under the name Android Q, but the search engine giant switched from desserts to numbers after feedback that some letters such as L and R are not inclusive of the international community. All the previous versions of Android were named after desserts. It’s the first time in 10 years that a version of Android doesn’t have a dessert-themed name.
Google is working with other vendors such as Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and HMD Global to bring Android 10 to their flagship devices by the end of this year. Android 10 supports 5G as well as foldable smartphones. All the features that we had seen in the beta versions have been refined for the stable version.
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The search engine giant rolls out major software updates over the course of several days. If you haven’t received the software on your Pixel device yet, you should expect it to arrive in a few days. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update to check for it.
This is one of the most-awaited Android 10 features. The software brings a system-wide Dark Theme. Head over to Settings to toggle on Dark Mode for all compatible apps and services. You can also turn it on for specific apps like Calendar or Photos. It saves battery life and reduces strain on your eyes.
Not all apps support Dark Theme, but we expect more third-party apps to add support in the coming weeks. Google’s own Gmail will get Dark Theme compatibility by the end of this month. Users will also be able to toggle it on from a Quick Setting tile.
Gesture navigation makes the whole user experience more fluid. You can swipe up the bottom bar to pull up the home screen, swipe in from the left or right side to go back, or swipe diagonally from the bottom corner of the screen to launch Google Assistant. Android 10 will still offer the traditional three-button system for people who use it, but Google is confident that “you won’t go back to visible buttons” once you start using gestures.
Google and Facebook have received a lot of criticism over user privacy in recent years. With Android 10, the search engine giant is strengthening privacy by giving users more control over their data. The revamped permissions allow you to choose whether you want to share your location data with apps. You can pick from three options: Always, never, or when the app is in use.
Google will also remind you when an app that you are not using actively requests your location data. You can decide if you want to share your data with the app. Also, the company has put together important controls like Web & App Activity and Ad Settings in one place. You can find them in a new Privacy section under Settings. You can opt-out of Google’s ad retargeting and personalization.
Focus mode in Android 10 will help you disconnect from apps that distract you frequently. You can select the distracting apps and silent them until you come out of the Focus mode. However, the feature is still in beta testing, so you have to sign up as a beta tester to use it.
One of the biggest problems with Android devices is that they don’t get timely security patches because vendors and carriers could take weeks to roll them out. Android 10 features ‘Project Mainline’ that lets Google roll out critical security patches to Android users directly through the Play Store. It will work the same way your apps update via Play Store. You’ll get the security fixes without any delay.
Google has further enhanced Digital Wellbeing with a new Family Link feature. Parents can use Family Link in Settings to set daily screen time limits, time limits for specific apps, device bedtime, and more for their kids. It also allows parents to review the apps their children install and how much time they spend in those apps.
Smart Reply will work across most of the messaging apps. It suggests replies and actions, and makes it easier for users to respond to messages. If a contact sent you a message with an address or a YouTube video, you can open it and navigate directly to Google Maps or open the video in YouTube. You won’t have to copy-and-paste the URL.
This accessibility feature will automatically caption videos, podcasts, and audio messages across apps with just a single tap. It also captions the media files you record yourself. Live Caption will launch on Pixel smartphones later this year, and will remain Pixel-exclusive for a time.
Other Android 10 features
Among other things, Android 10 gets a new enterprise feature that lets users use different keyboards for work and personal profiles. There are also 65 new emojis, including 56 gender-inclusive ones. It also includes support for direct audio streaming to hearing aid devices. The software also has app timers for specific websites.