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Android Q beta

Android Q is the next version of Google's operating system. At Google I/O, the company announced the third version of its beta software, which you can download on 21 different phones.

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Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Android Q beta

With Q, Google is focusing in large part on privacy, giving Android owners finer control over what data they share and creating stricter limits on what information apps can ask for. It also includes small but useful changes to its interface and controls.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Live Captions

A really neat feature for Android Q, live captioning will transcribe the audio from any video into text.

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Turn on Live Captions

Touch the volume rocker up or down and tap the icon below the volume controls to toggle Live Captions on and off.

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Bye, bye, back button

One of our favorite new features gets rid of the dreaded back button from Android Pie. It felt out of place while the other controls focused on gestures. You can swipe either left or right to go back.

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Switching apps

If you swipe up and hold from the bottom, you can switch open apps.

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Dark theme expands

We had seen dark mode before, but now Dark Theme covers more of the OS. 

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Two ways to turn it on

One way to turn it on is to tap Battery Saver in the quick access controls.

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See? It works

Dark Theme forever.

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You can also turn it on through the Display settings.

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Dark mode

The Dark device theme from Android Pie seems to be gone in Q, but you can still turn on dark mode by tricking the system into using it through Battery Saver settings. Q applies dark mode across more of the system, including in settings.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Battery Saver based on your routine

Turn on Battery Saver based on your routine, and Q switches to Battery Saver if your phone is likely to run out before you typically plug in.

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Battery level icon in status

Q shows what's left in your battery as a percent to the right of the battery icon.

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Expanded battery level icon

When your phone's unplugged, swipe down from the status bar to view an estimate of how long your battery will last.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Wi-Fi data usage

Q's Wi-Fi data usage window (right) has a different look than Android Pie (left).

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Published:Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Hide silent notifications

Hate those silent notification icons cluttering your status bar? Me too. In Q you can hide them.

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Long-press notifications

In Q, you can long-press a notification to see more descriptive choices for dealing with it.

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Swipe away notifications

Unlike in Pie, you can't swipe to either side to dismiss a notification to Q. Swipe to the right to dismiss it. To the left to view options for dealing with it.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Clifford Colby/CNET
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Notifications on lock screen

View more useful notifications on Q's lock screen, such an audio track playing or expected arrival time.

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Lockscreen has revamped enter key

It's a small thing, but the icon you press after entering your passcode is a blue arrow in Q, not a check mark.

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Emergency info via power button

Press and hold the power button -- with the phone locked or unlocked -- to bring up an emergency shortcut below the Power off, Restart and Screenshot buttons.

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Undo button

You can already remove an app icon from the home screen by dragging it to the top. In Q, a message appears at the bottom of the screen, asking if you want to undo that action.

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Rounded corners

For Q, recent windows have rounded corners (left). They are square in Android Pie (right).

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Shared items

Q will ease make sharing easier, via shortcuts that offer a preview of content you want to share.

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Easy Connect with QR code sharing

Android Q includes Wi-Fi Easy Connect, which lets you share and join Wi-Fi networks by scanning a QR code.

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Accessibility time to read

In Accessibility settings, you can set how much time you want to read and then take action on a message before it goes away.

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Greater control over location permissions

Q gives you finer control over when an app can access your location. Allow all the time, Allow only when the app is in use, or Deny. The App info window also gets an Open button to go with the Uninstall/Disable and Force stop buttons.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Angela Lang/CNET
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Android Q beta

Google said it will release several more betas through the summer and then ship Q (whatever its final name is) in the third quarter.

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