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What’s New in Android: Q Beta 3 & More

  • June 25, 2019

Posted by Dave Burke, VP, Engineering

Today Android is celebrating two amazing milestones. It’s Android’s version 10! And today, Android is running on more than 2.5B active Android devices.

With Android Q, we’ve focused on three themes: innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing. We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology — 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more — while making sure users’ security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority.

Earlier at Google I/O we highlighted what’s new in Android Q and unveiled the latest update, Android Q Beta 3. Your feedback continues to be extremely valuable in shaping today’s update as well as our final release to the ecosystem in the fall.

This year, Android Q Beta 3 is available on 15 partner devices from 12 OEMs — that’s twice as many devices as last year! It’s all thanks to Project Treble and especially to our partners who are committed to accelerating updates to Android users globally — Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, ASUS, LGE, TECNO, Essential, and realme.

Visit android.com/beta to see the full list of Beta devices and learn how to get today’s update on your device. If you have a Pixel device, you can enroll here to get Beta 3 — if you’re already enrolled, watch for the update coming soon. To get started developing with Android Q Beta, visit developer.android.com/preview.

Privacy and security

As we talked about at Google I/O, privacy and security are important to our whole company and in Android Q we’ve added many more protections for users.

Privacy

In Android Q, privacy has been a central focus, from strengthening protections in the platform to designing new features with privacy in mind. It’s more important than ever to give users control — and transparency — over how information is collected and used by apps, and by our phones.

Building on our work in previous releases, Android Q includes extensive changes across the platform to improve privacy and give users control — from improved system UI to stricter permissions to restrictions on what data apps can use.

For example, Android Q gives users more control over when apps can get location. Apps still ask the user for permission, but now in Android Q the user has greater choice over when to allow access to location — such as only while the app is in use, all the time, or never. Read the developer guide for details on how to adapt your app for the new location controls.

Outside of location, we also introduced the Scoped Storage feature to give users control over files and prevent apps from accessing sensitive user or app data. Your feedback has helped us refine this feature, and we recently announced several changes to make it easier to support. These are now available in Beta 3.

Another important change is restricting app launches from the background, which prevents apps from unexpectedly jumping into the foreground and taking over focus. In Beta 3 we’re transitioning from toast warnings to actually blocking these launches.

To prevent tracking we’re limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers. Read the best practices to choose the right identifiers for your use case. We’re also randomizing MAC address when your device is connected to different Wi-Fi networks and gating connectivity APIs behind the location permission. We’re bringing these changes to you early, so you can have as much time as possible to prepare your apps.

Security

To keep users secure, we’ve extended our BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level. We’re extending support for passive authentication methods such as face, and we’ve added implicit and explicit authentication flows. In the explicit flow, the user must explicitly confirm the transaction. The new implicit flow is designed for a lighter-weight alternative for transactions with passive authentication, and there’s no need for users to explicitly confirm.

Android Q also adds support for TLS 1.3, a major revision to the TLS standard that includes performance benefits and enhanced security. Our benchmarks indicate that secure connections can be established as much as 40% faster with TLS 1.3 compared to TLS 1.2. TLS 1.3 is enabled by default for all TLS connections made through Android’s TLS stack, called Conscrypt, regardless of target API level. See the docs for details.

Project Mainline

Today we also announced Project Mainline, a new approach to keeping Android users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes, direct from Google Play. With Project Mainline, we’re now able to update specific internal components within the OS itself, without requiring a full system update from your device manufacturer. This means we can help keep the OS code on devices fresher, drive a new level of consistency, and bring the latest AOSP code to users faster — and for a longer period of time.

We plan to update Project Mainline modules in much the same way as app updates are delivered today — downloading the latest versions from Google Play in the background and loading them the next time the phone starts up. The source code for the modules will continue to live in the Android Open Source Project, and updates will be fully open-sourced as they are released. Also, because they’re open source, they’ll include improvements and bug fixes contributed by our many partners and developer community worldwide.

For users, the benefits are huge, since their devices will always be running the latest versions of the modules, including the latest updates for security, privacy, and consistency. For device makers, carriers, and enterprises, the benefits are also huge, since they can optimize and secure key parts of the OS without the cost of a full system update.

For app and game developers, we expect Project Mainline to help drive consistency of platform implementation in key areas across devices, over time bringing greater uniformity that will reduce development and testing costs and help to make sure your apps work as expected. All devices running Android Q or later will be able to get Project Mainline, and we’re working closely with our partners to make sure their devices are ready.

Innovation and new experiences

Android is shaping the leading edge of innovation. With our ecosystem partners, we’re enabling new experiences through a combination of hardware and software advances.

Foldables

This year, display technology will take a big leap with foldable devices coming to the Android ecosystem from several top device makers. When folded these devices work like a phone, then you unfold a beautiful tablet-sized screen.

We’ve optimized Android Q to ensure that screen continuity is seamless in these transitions, and apps and games can pick up right where they left off. For multitasking, we’ve made some changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We’ve also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on large screens.

Our partners have already started showing their innovative foldable devices, with more to come. You can get started building and testing today with our foldables emulator in canary release of Android Studio 3.5.

5G networks

5G networks are the next evolution of wireless technology — providing consistently faster speeds and lower latency. For developers, 5G can unlock new kinds of experiences in your apps and supercharge existing ones.

Android Q adds platform support for 5G and extends existing APIs to help you transform your apps for 5G. You can use connectivity APIs to detect if the device has a high bandwidth connection and check whether the connection is metered. With these your apps and games can tailor rich, immersive experiences to users over 5G.

With Android’s open ecosystem and range of partners, we expect the Android ecosystem to scale to support 5G quickly. This year, over a dozen Android device makers are launching 5G-ready devices, and more than 20 carriers will launch 5G networks around the world, with some already broad-scale.

Live Caption

On top of hardware innovation, we’re continuing to see Android’s AI transforming the OS itself to make it smarter and easier to use, for a wider range of people. A great example is Live Caption, a new feature in Android Q that automatically captions media playing on your phone.

Many people watch videos with captions on — the captions help them keep up, even when on the go or in a crowded place. But for 466 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience — they make content accessible. We worked with the Deaf community to develop Live Caption.

Live Caption brings real-time captions to media on your phone – videos, podcasts, and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Best of all, it doesn’t even require a network connection — everything happens on the device, thanks to a breakthrough in speech recognition that we made earlier this year. The live speech models run right on the phone, and no audio stream ever leaves your device.

For developers, Live Caption expands the audience for your apps and games by making digital media more accessible with a single tap. Live Caption will be available later this year.

Suggested actions in notifications

In Android Pie we introduced smart replies for notifications that let users engage with your apps direct from notifications. We provided the APIs to attach replies and actions, but you needed to build those on your own.

Now in Android Q we want to make smart replies available to all apps right now, without you needing to do anything. Starting in Beta 3, we’re enabling system-provided smart replies and actions that are inserted directly into notifications by default.

You can still supply your own replies and actions if you want — such as if you are using ML Kit or other ML frameworks. Just opt out of the system-provided replies or actions on a per-notification basis using setAllowGeneratedReplies() and setAllowSystemGeneratedContextualActions().

Android Q suggestions are powered by an on-device ML service built into the platform — the same service that backs our text classifier entity recognition service. We’ve built it with user privacy in mind, and the ML processing happens completely on the device, not on a backend server.

Because suggested actions are based on the TextClassifier service, they can take advantage of new capabilities we’ve added in Android Q, such as language detection. You can also use TextClassifier APIs directly to generate system-provided notifications and actions, and you can mix those with your own replies and actions as needed.

Dark theme

Many users prefer apps that offer a UI with a dark theme they can switch to when light is low, to reduce eye strain and save battery. Users have also asked for a simple way to enable dark theme everywhere across their devices. Dark theme has been a popular request for a while, and in Android Q, it’s finally here.

Starting in Android Q Beta 3, users can activate a new system-wide dark theme by going to Settings > Display, using the new Quick Settings tile, or turning on Battery Saver. This changes the system UI to dark, and enables the dark theme of apps that support it. Apps can build their own dark themes, or they can opt-in to a new Force Dark feature that lets the OS create a dark version of their existing theme. All you have to do is opt-in by setting android:forceDarkAllowed="true" in your app’s current theme.

You may also want to take complete control over your app’s dark styling, which is why we’ve also been hard at work improving AppCompat’s DayNight feature. By using DayNight, apps can offer a dark theme to all of their users, regardless of what version of Android they’re using on their devices. For more information, see here.

Gestural navigation

Many of the latest Android devices feature beautiful edge-to-edge screens, and users want to take advantage of every bit of them. In Android Q we’re introducing a new fully gestural navigation mode that eliminates the navigation bar area and allows apps and games to use the full screen to deliver their content. It retains the familiar Back, Home, and recents navigation through edge swipes rather than visible buttons.

Users can switch to gestures in Settings > System > Gestures. There are currently two gestures: Swiping up from the bottom of the screen takes the user to the Home screen, holding brings up Recents. Swiping from the screen’s left or right edge triggers the Back action.

To blend seamlessly with gestural navigation, apps should go edge-to-edge, drawing behind the navigation bar to create an immersive experience. To implement this, apps should use the setSystemUiVisibility() API to be laid out fullscreen, and then handle WindowInsets as appropriate to ensure that important pieces of UI are not obscured. More information is here.

Digital wellbeing

Digital wellbeing is another theme of our work on Android — we want to give users the visibility and tools to find balance with the way they use their phones. Last year we launched Digital Wellbeing with Dashboards, App Timers, Flip to Shush, and Wind Down mode. These tools are really helping. App timers helped users stick to their goals over 90% of the time, and users of Wind Down had a 27% drop in nightly usage.

This year we’re continuing to expand our features to help people find balance with digital devices, adding Focus Mode and Family Link.

Focus Mode

Focus Mode is designed for all those times you’re working or studying, and you want to to focus to get something done. With focus mode, you can pick the apps that you think might distract you and silence them – for example, pausing email and the News while leaving maps and text message apps active. You can then use Quick Tiles to turn on Focus Mode any time you want to focus. Under the covers, these apps will be paused – until you come out of Focus Mode! Focus Mode is coming to Android 9 Pie and Android Q devices this Fall.

Family Link

Family Link is a new set of controls to help parents. Starting in Android Q, Family Link will be built right into the Settings on the device. When you set up a new device for your child, Family Link will help you connect it to you. You’ll be able to set daily screen time limits, see the apps where your child is spending time, review any new apps your child wants to install, and even set a device bedtime so your child can disconnect and get to sleep. And now in Android Q you can also set time limits on specific apps… as well as give your kids Bonus Time if you want them to have just 5 more minutes at bedtime. Family Link is coming to Android P and Q devices this Fall. Make sure to check out the other great wellbeing apps in the recent Google Play awards.

Family link lets parents set device bedtime and even give bonus minutes.

Android Foundations

We’re continuing to extend the foundations of Android with more capabilities to help you build new experiences for your users — here are just a few.

Improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity

In Android Q we’ve refactored the Wi-Fi stack to improve privacy and performance, and also to improve common use-cases like managing IoT devices and suggesting internet connections — without requiring the location permission. The network connection APIs make it easier to manage IoT devices over local Wi-Fi, for peer-to-peer functions like configuring, downloading, or printing. The network suggestion APIs let apps surface preferred Wi-Fi networks to the user for internet connectivity.

Wi-Fi performance modes

In Android Q apps can now request adaptive Wi-Fi by enabling high performance and low latency modes. These will be of great benefit where low latency is important to the user experience, such as real-time gaming, active voice calls, and similar use-cases. The platform works with the device firmware to meet the requirement with the lowest power consumption. To use the new performance modes, call WifiManager.WifiLock.createWifiLock().

Full support for Wi-Fi RTT accurate indoor positioning

In Android 9 Pie we introduced RTT APIs for indoor positioning to accurately measure distance to nearby Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) that support the IEEE 802.11mc protocol, based on measuring the round-trip time of Wi-Fi packets. Now in Android Q, we’ve completed our implementation of the 802.11mc standard, adding an API to obtain location information of each AP being ranged, configured by their owner during installation.

Audio playback capture

You saw how Live Caption can take audio from any app and instantly turn it into on-screen captions. It’s a seamless experience that shows how powerful it can be for one app to share its audio stream with another. In Android Q, any app that plays audio can let other apps capture its audio stream using a new API. In addition to enabling captioning and subtitles, the API lets you support popular use-cases like live-streaming games, all without latency impact on the source app or game.

We’ve designed this new capability with privacy and copyright protection in mind, so the ability for an app to capture another app’s audio is constrained, giving apps full control over whether their audio streams can be captured. Read more here.

Dynamic depth for photos

Apps can now request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support. Requesting a JPEG + Dynamic Depth image makes it possible for you to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app. You can even use the data to create 3D images or support AR photography use-cases. Dynamic Depth is an open format for the ecosystem — the latest version of the spec is here. We’re working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later.



With Dynamic Depth image you can offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app

New audio and video codecs

Android Q adds support for the open source video codec AV1, which allows media providers to stream high quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. In addition, Android Q supports audio encoding using Opus – a codec optimized for speech and music streaming, and HDR10+ for high dynamic range video on devices that support it. The MediaCodecInfo API introduces an easier way to determine the video rendering capabilities of an Android device. For any given codec, you can obtain a list of supported sizes and frame rates.

Vulkan 1.1 and ANGLE

We’re continuing to expand the impact of Vulkan on Android, our implementation of the low-overhead, cross-platform API for high-performance 3D graphics. We’re working together with our device manufacturer partners to make Vulkan 1.1 a requirement on all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher, and a recommendation for all 32-bit devices. For game and graphics developers using OpenGL, we’re also working towards a standard, updateable OpenGL driver for all devices built on Vulkan. In Android Q we’re adding experimental support for ANGLE on top of Vulkan on Android devices. See the docs for details.

Neural Networks API 1.2

In NNAPI 1.2 we’ve added 60 new ops including ARGMAX, ARGMIN, quantized LSTM, alongside a range of performance optimisations. This lays the foundation for accelerating a much greater range of models — such as those for object detection and image segmentation. We are working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.2.

Thermal API

When devices get too warm, they may throttle the CPU and/or GPU, and this can affect apps and games in unexpected ways. Now in Android Q, apps and games can use a thermal API to monitor changes on the device and take action to help restore normal temperature. For example, streaming apps can reduce resolution/bit rate or network traffic, a camera app could disable flash or intensive image enhancement, or a game could reduce frame rate or polygon tesselation. Read more here.

ART optimizations

Android Q introduces several improvements to the ART runtime to help your apps start faster, consume less memory, and run smoother — without requiring any work from you. To help with initial app startup, Google Play is now delivering cloud-based profiles along with APKs. These are anonymized, aggregate ART profiles that let ART pre-compile parts of your app even before it’s run. Cloud-based profiles benefit all apps and they’re already available to devices running Android P and higher.

We’re also adding Generational Garbage Collection to ART’s Concurrent Copying (CC) Garbage Collector. Generational CC collects young-generation objects separately, incurring much lower cost as compared to full-heap GC. It makes garbage collection more efficient in terms of time and CPU, reduces jank, and helps apps run better on lower-end devices.

More Android Q Beta devices, more Treble momentum than ever

In 2017 we launched Project Treble as part of Android Oreo, with a goal of accelerating OS updates. Treble provides a consistent, testable interface between Android and the underlying device code from device makers and silicon manufacturers, which makes porting a new OS version much simpler and more modular.

In 2018 we worked closely with our partners to bring the first OS updates to their Treble devices. The result: last year at Google I/O we had 8 devices from 7 partners joining our Android P Beta program, together with our Pixel and Pixel 2 devices. Fast forward to today — we’re seeing updates to Android Pie accelerating strongly, with 2.5 times the footprint compared to Android Oreo’s at the same time last year.

This year with Android Q we’re seeing even more momentum, and we have 23 devices from 13 top global device makers releasing Android Q Beta 3 — including all Pixel devices. We’re also providing Q Beta 3 Generic System Images (GSI), a testing environment for other supported Treble devices. All of these offer the same behaviors, APIs, and features — giving you an incredible variety of devices for testing your apps, and more ways for you to get an early look at Android Q.

You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. Try Android Q Beta on your favorite device today and let us know your feedback!

Explore the new features and APIs

When you’re ready, dive into Android Q and learn about the new features and APIs you can use in your apps. Take a look at the API diff report for an overview of what’s changed in Beta 3, and see the Android Q Beta API reference for details. Visit the Android Q Beta developer site for more resources, including release notes and how to report issues.

To build with Android Q, download the Android Q Beta SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.3 or higher, and follow these instructions to configure your environment. If you want the latest fixes for Android Q related changes, we recommend you use Android Studio 3.5 or higher.

How do I get Beta 3?

It’s easy! Just enroll any Pixel device here to get the update over-the-air. If you’re already enrolled, you’ll receive the update soon, and, no action is needed on your part. Downloadable system images are also available.

You can also get Beta 3 on any of the other devices participating in the Android Q Beta program, from some of our top device maker partners. You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. For each device you’ll find specs and links to the manufacturer’s dedicated site for downloads, support, and to report issues.

For even broader testing on supported devices, you can also get Android GSI images, and if you don’t have a device you can test on the Android Emulator — just download the latest emulator system images via the SDK Manager in Android Studio.

As always, your input is critical, so please let us know what you think. You can use our hotlists for filing platform issues (including privacy and behavior changes), app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues. You’ve shared great feedback with us so far and we’re working to integrate as much of it as possible in the next Beta release.

We’re looking forward to seeing your apps on Android Q!

7 Really Common Habits That Are Holding You Back From Success

  • June 25, 2019

Success is gradual, not spontaneous. It is a collection of thousands and thousands of good life choices, marred with many regrettable choices. To succeed, regrettable choices need to be minimal. That is why you must assess your daily habits at all times to ensure that you don’t pile up too many errors and know which bad habits to give up.

The greatest challenge with taking stock of your habits is that they’re mostly deeply ingrained in your life. They are part of you. Sometimes, you will call out other people on their bad habits without knowing that you suffer from equally disgusting, if not more, disgusting habits.

However, working on your daily habits is the first step towards success and prosperity. If you wish to change for the better, you probably should consult with a life coach to challenge your habits and get advice on where to rectify.

That is why you will benefit greatly by reading this article, as it gives you 7 of the most common bad habits to give up for success.

Seeking unnecessary approval

Parents have the tendency of training their young ones to seek approval from elders at all times. For every small step they make, they expect a tap on the back for a job well done. Every bad comment they get, their self-esteem goes down.

Regrettably, this habit of seeking approval from others on every single thing in life never goes even after we grow up. Adults will always feel underappreciated because the boss doesn’t compliment them often enough, or because their life partners do not seem to appreciate their effort. In the long run, this habit hinders productivity and growth.

Encouraging the feeling of overwhelm

Maybe you are feeling stagnant on your job because you spend less time on yourself. After all, your job is too overwhelming to even afford an hour in the gym, right?

You would be wrong.

The most successful people dedicate a significant amount of time to themselves. Taking vacations, reading motivational material before work, working out regularly, and doing generally everything to remain healthy and happy. That enables them to be happy and productive at their workplace and in life as a whole.

Procrastination

The day to ask for a pay rise or quit that oppressive job is today. The day to start your business is today.. And today is the day to make your financial plans.

Many people fail because they wait for the “right” time to act on their plans. Don’t be like them. Take action and grab opportunities as they come. If you fail in one venture, you surely will succeed in another.

Perfectionism

Are you a perfectionist?

If you are, then it’s time you drop that habit. It is important to appreciate that you are human. Your employees and everyone around you are humans, too. We all have our limitations.

Don’t expect too much from people because you will be disappointed. There isn’t a perfect job, business, career, family or a perfect life. The key to success is doing your best and asking other people to fill in where you come short. Then, leave what cannot be fixed to chance.

Dwelling too much on non-priorities

What are your priorities in life? Are you thinking of going back to school? Do you wish to save time for a side hustle? Or are you watching too much TV and neglecting your loved ones?

You need to discard whatever is preventing you from accomplishing your top priorities. You can start by determining those bad habits to give up. If it is your computer or phone, keep it away. If it is your habit of drinking or partying too much, control that.

Overworking

Do you see that the department you work too hard to “save”? Well, it probably doesn’t need you to “save” it.

Don’t overwork to make things run smoothly. They will somehow sort themselves out even without your intervention. Always do your best and then delegate the rest. Remember that if you die today, someone will sit in the desk you’re sitting on today.

So, stop overworking and create time for some other things.

Know-it-all attitude

You are well-educated and connected, but that doesn’t make you the custodian of all knowledge. Giving people a chance to challenge your knowledge and advise you occasionally is important for your growth. Even if someone is your junior in terms of career or age, you should never shoot them down when they try to air their opinions.

See Also: 5 Habits Of Successful People You Should Be Following Today

The post 7 Really Common Habits That Are Holding You Back From Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Where Is Everyone?

  • June 25, 2019

If you’ve ever traveled outside of the US, the UK or another Western country, you may have been struck by the sense of community that seems to have disappeared from our modern westernized world. Or if you haven’t, think about the books you’ve read that took place in the past.

People would go visit their neighbors and chat for hours or help them with farm work. Relatives and friends would visit one another for months. Communities would surround those in their group that needed help and provide them with support and care. Children left their parents only when they got married and then took in their elderly parents later to support them.

People had people. Many cultures still retain this support system. Arranged marriages, whole families living together, etc.

In Asian culture, it’s much more acceptable for adult children to live with their parents until they are married. It isn’t looked down upon as weak or dependent like it often is in the US or UK.

In the Amish community in the US, if someone in the community needs help, the whole community will provide that help. If there’s a fire, the community will be there to rebuild.

The idea of homes for the elderly is practically unheard of in certain parts of the world as children are expected to take their in parents once they’re too old to care for themselves.

The messages we’ve heard

Some of these things sound ridiculous or at least unimaginable to the Western ear. We wouldn’t want to live with our parents for the rest of our lives. That just doesn’t fit into our framework. We couldn’t stomach the thought of an arranged marriage or forced (expected) childbearing.

Our western world is one of individualism. The US, in particular, has a very much “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of mentality. You must depend on yourself to achieve your goals and succeed in life. To be the creator of your own way and your own success is power and strength.

If you’ve grown up in that kind of environment, these are the messages you’ve most likely received:

-You don’t need anyone else.
-Needing is weak and desperate.
-As soon as you’re able, start taking care of yourself.
-It’s a source of pride to have a lot of accomplishments.
-Wealth and power and success (defined by our culture) are what makes a person happy.
-Closeness and intimacy can show your weak spots.

That doesn’t mean these messages are always wrong. We have accomplished much with this kind of mentality. But, at the same time, many of us have lost all connection to the tribal feeling of our past.

Since the dawn of civilization, we’ve been living in tribal communities. Each person with a job, each person belonging and working towards a common goal, and people sharing common beliefs, aiding each other, and growing with each other.

Now, we’ve broken apart

We achieved goals separately, often at the expense or loss of others. The resulting feeling many people are experiencing is… where is everyone?

While social media has flooded our lives, supposedly intended to bring about a closer connection, it left out a very important element: deep intimacy. The connections we have now are more shallow than they’ve ever been.

People are so busy taking selfies, trying to prove they have great lives or getting a whole list of friends that they have missed out on having real and true friends. You can use it as a mask to hide what’s really going on.

This is where those messages come through: Don’t show weakness, show your accomplishments because that’s what shows you’re worth something.

Instead of connection and a seemingly infinite supply of friendships, many have been left with increasing loneliness and isolation. Dr. Jennifer Caudle, assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine took part in leading a study on loneliness. Their research concluded that 72% of Americans experience recurring loneliness. Over one-third of the population in the UK experiences loneliness as well.

“Too much time spent on computers and mobile devices can add up. Loneliness is ‘an invisible epidemic’ masked by people’s online personas, which rarely reflect real emotions.”

It’s an invisible epidemic that is slowly increasing the more we begin to hide away behind the protection of social media and the achievement of innumerable accomplishments and more.

Individualism Today: Why does it matter?

This may seem like a silly question, but it is a fair one. If we value individualism today and see it as a strength, then why should it matter if we are isolated or feeling lonely?

Maybe that’s fine and we just need to get stronger. But, unfortunately, loneliness is bad for your health.

Not only is feeling lonely unpleasant and discouraging, but it can also affect your physical body. Remember: our minds and bodies are inextricably linked!

Studies have found that chronic loneliness can be just as bad for you as smoking or obesity, and is 29% more likely to cause early death!

It’s unbelievable to think that something we feel in our minds and inner worlds can have such an effect on our physical body and can actually hurt us or kill us! But, that’s why it’s so important to care about our spiritual and emotional selves because everything about us affects our health and well-being.

Now, evolution as a species has occurred. We don’t necessarily need to return to the way our ancestors had lived as a tribal community. It won’t quite work anymore for us. But, we can pay attention to some of those needs simply because we are human.

Don’t isolate yourself. Find friends and a community that brings you joy, contentment, help, love, and support! If you view the game of life as a multiplayer universe, a community, and a tribe, then magic happens.

What to do if you’re lonely

Reconnect

You are your own friend. As a friend, you need to help yourself.

If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, fight back against your strong individualism today and get involved in something. Whether it’s church, sports, fitness classes or book club, it will help you remember that there are others out there. It’s important to step outside of your comfort zone. That way you can grow and you will have people nearby to help you, too!

Cleanse

There does seem to be a connection with the more social media use there is, the more loneliness fills us. Maybe take a break from the constant onslaught of Instagram photos and Facebook posts pretending to showcase a life better than your own.

Exercise

exercise improves mood

Exercise is a crazy game-changer. It can turn a bad day into a good one or a depressing life into a happy one or at least one with hope.

Before resorting to medication or other things to help alleviate your symptoms of sadness and loneliness, start exercising. It can give you a floor from which you can make more rational, effective decisions. It can help give you that feeling of peace, too.

See Also: How To Find The Time To Workout Every Day

Focus on others

Maybe you can think of ways to add value to the universe and get involved in helping others. Consider charity work, volunteer work or simply doing kind gestures for neighbors or coworkers.

When people around feel you are helping them, they see you as a friend rather than competition. Your vibe attracts your tribe!

Bibliography:
I feel lonely. What can I do? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/feeling-lonely/
Loneliness Research. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/loneliness-research/
Marcus, M. B. (2016, October 13). Feeling lonely? So are a lot of other people, survey finds. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/many-americans-are-lonely-survey-finds/
Social Isolation: A Modern Plague. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-depression-cure/200907/social-isolation-modern-plague
The Pain of Modern Life: Loneliness and Isolation. (2017, November 22). Retrieved from https://www.nationofchange.org/2015/07/04/the-pain-of-modern-life-loneliness-and-isolation/

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The Power of Pets: Can Pets Really Help Grow Your Business?

  • June 25, 2019

Are pet-friendly businesses better?

When you get home from a long day at the office, the last thing you want to do is go out and run errands and socialize with people. Chances are you’d much rather sit on the couch with your family, pet your dog, and watch TV while someone delivers your dinner right to your door.

We’re working longer hours than ever, and retailers and restaurants are feeling the pinch as we spend more time at home. We have less time to spend with our pets, too. That makes it even more important to be home whenever possible to spend time with them.

But what if you could take your dog with you wherever you go?

Smart businesses are realizing that in order to get customers in the door, they’re going to have to take pets, too. If you’re planning to do the same thing, here’s what you should know about pet-friendly businesses.

The Power of Pets and Pet-Friendly Businesses

sleep with pets

More than two in three households in the United States has a pet and that meant about 393 million pets across the nation— and growing. In 2018 alone, people spent $72 billion on pets, which works out to just over $1300 per pet parent.

Millennials lead the pack when it comes to spending on pets with an average of just over $1700 a year. People aren’t just spending record amounts on their pets, they are also willing to make sacrifices for them.

Three in four Americans are willing to make financial sacrifices for their pets:

  • 92% would skip eating out
  • 67% would skip taking vacations
  • 37% would skip saving for retirement

People Want To Spend Time With Their Pets

After work and other obligations, there is an average of 4.5 hours a day to spend with pets. But many businesses are looking toward pet-friendly policies in the workplace so people can bring their pets along for the workday, leading to a greater work/life balance.

When creating a pet policy for your workplace, it’s important to keep in mind that health codes may prevent pets in places that serve food. Check to ensure no one in the workplace has allergies that would prevent pets from spending time in the office. Ensure that pets are well-groomed and there are pet-free areas like the office kitchen.

Pets should be vaccinated and in good health. They must be well-behaved around people and other pets. Ensure that everyone follows these rules and that pets that show they aren’t ready for the workplace are taken home quickly.

Adhering to a few simple rules can make the workplace more fun and more inviting. Allowing people to spend time with their pets during the workday can free up additional time outside of work to restore work/life balance. Plus, having pets in the workplace has also been shown to reduce overall stress levels.

Pet Policies For Customers Can Get More Business

Taking pets places requires a lot of extra planning. Most of the time, you can’t leave your pet in the car when you run errands. It will make it easier for you to get things done when you can just take your pet in with you.

There are some surprising places that allow dogs inside their stores. Some famous pet-friendly businesses include Sephora to Bloomingdales, Banana Republic to The Container Store, and Old Navy to LUSH. Rules vary by location so it’s always a good idea to check before heading in.

But who wouldn’t want to shop for your next lipstick or bathing suit with your best friend by your side?

Places like PetSmart and Home Depot have always been pet-friendly. Dollywood in Tennessee has a kennel called Doggywood to accommodate visitors’ pets while they enjoy all the rides. But there are also places that offer special treats to doggo visitors:

  • Starbucks offers the Puppuccino – whipped cream in a cup for dogs
  • Dairy Queen offers the Pup Cup – soft serve with a dog treat on top
  • In-N-Out offers the pup patty – a plain burger patty for dogs
  • Shake Shack offers the pooch-ini – vanilla custard with dog treats and peanut butter

See Also: The Booming Business Of Dogs

Smart Businesses Unleash The Power of Pets

People feel better about how they spend their time and money when it aligns with their values, and most people value pets very highly. Learn more about the power of pets in business from the infographic below.
The Power of Pets
Source: Hinsdale Humane Society

The post The Power of Pets: Can Pets Really Help Grow Your Business? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Proactiveness: The Glue to Achieving Productivity

  • June 25, 2019

You’re reading Proactiveness: The Glue to Achieving Productivity, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Proactive tips to be productive

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

Proactiveness in your Personality

Proactiveness is easier defined than practiced. By definition, being proactive is taking initiative regardless of requirements. A person marked by proactivity consistently finds a solution to a potentially negative situation and takes action before it is required. In practice, proactiveness requires awareness, self-discipline, and an eye for the future. You know you’ve found a proactive person if you’ve seen someone who:

                                    1. Practices Awareness

                                         2. Plans Ahead

                                              3. Takes Initiative

Why Choose Proactivity?

What’s so great about being proactive? Why not just react to life as it comes? The nice thing is that these two approaches don’t necessarily exclude one another. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Your work day is no different. While adaptability is a must, one of the reasons to attempt a proactive lifestyle is the advantages in productivity that it often provides. Adopting a more proactive approach to your everyday life enables you to take control of areas that you can affect, and use that control to promote productivity and decrease stress. I like what Isabella Gura stated in her article, 6 Stages of Personal Growth, that when we choose proactiveness over reactiveness that, “… life happens for us rather than to us.”

Another benefit to becoming more proactive is the message it sends to everyone around you: “I desire to succeed and will work hard to get there.” Someone who thoughtfully plans ahead and takes initiative is someone who is in high demand. Just ask your boss. Being proactive is a great way to show thoughtfulness for others as well. When you organize your day in order to actively help the ones you care for, people will sit up and take notice.

Proactivity Hacks

If becoming proactive is such a game-changer, then how do you implement that change? There are lots of great tips available to help you in this area. If you know someone personally who exemplifies proactivity, consider asking them for some pointers. In the meantime, here are 4 ways to start practicing proactiveness.

1.  Create Routines and Check-ups

When you carefully examine the practice of being proactive, you inevitably end up with concept of time management. So start prioritizing. Develop a schedule that allows you to allot time to what matters most. Do you want to develop a business relationship? Contact that colleague and set up a monthly meeting. Are you wanting to finish a book this year? Start a plan now to write 100 pages/week. This practice of creating routines can function outside of work settings too. Have you been missing out on quality time with your spouse or child? Create a time each day to invest in the people that matter most to you. Then, once your plan is established, set up reminders – periodic check ups to see if you’re staying on task. It is imperative that you keep yourself accountable if your routine is to take shape and become effective long-term.

2. Mentally Prepare for Difficult Situations

It’s Friday, you’re mentally exhausted and you’re scheduled to meet with your “favorite” manager for a monthly report. What do you do? Creating a small chunk of time to mentally gear-up for a difficult meeting is an excellent way to prepare. Find a quiet spot and plan out the meeting in your mind. Writing your thoughts down can be helpful. Make a list of the questions you’d like to ask, the information you need to give, and the answers you’ll likely have to provide. While this practice doesn’t guarantee a successful meeting, (people are people) taking the time to plan ahead and mentally prepare is a proactive step in the right direction.

3. Frontloading

This is the opposite of procrastinating. To frontload a project, set up a schedule that forces you to do the bulk of your work within the first 50% of the time you have allotted for the project.  (If you have 5 days to complete 20 hours of research, schedule 5 hours/day for days 1-3 and leave 5 hours of work for days 4-5.) This can achieve a couple of different results: 1) It gives you the chance to eliminate stress by finishing your task ahead of schedule. 2) If your project does take longer than expected, you have available extra time to make up the difference without missing your deadline. This approach won’t work for everyone, but if you want to practice proactiveness, give it a try.

 4. Focus on Communication

Believe it or not, a lot of productivity is lost each day through miscommunication or non-communication. If it’s your responsibility to reach out to someone, don’t delay and don’t distract from the main point. A quick phone call, a concise email, or even a properly-placed sticky note can all achieve the same goal: proactive communication. If someone else is doing the talking, make sure you are listening well. This usually means no double-tasking while the other person is talking. Repeating back a summary of what you just heard is also a great way to make sure you took in the correct message. Make sure you are communicating concisely and clearly to give your work-place productivity a boost.

Achieving Proactiveness

A proactive mindset is one of the keys to achieving productivity in your day-to-day life. Preparing for an often negative situation before it happens can sometimes help to bring about a positive result and that goes a long way in streamlining your day. Learn to cultivate an awareness of potential derailments and plan ways to avoid them. Then, act before you’re forced to.

As you learn to manage your time well, you’ll begin to achieve a more productive and balanced work day. Enjoy!


Ben Tejes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, a platform to help people achieve self improvement in the area of personal finance. He is a writer for the Ascend Blog where he writes on topics such as Chapter 7, Chapter 13IRAs and creditors to help people get out of debt and experience financial freedom.

You’ve read Proactiveness: The Glue to Achieving Productivity, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

6 Great Habits of Financially Successful People

  • June 25, 2019

We all know people who seem to always have it together and are always getting ahead. Often, that is because they have simply created good financial habits. If you want to know the habits of financially successful people, below is a quick list to help you out.

Create a budget and stick to it

It is so important to create a budget and stick to it. Without a budget, all your money gets spent and you are left wondering where it all went!

Get started by tracking your spending to find out where all your money goes. Then, you can make adjustments to spend a little less in certain areas.

Creating a budget will help you to live below your means or to spend less than you earn. It will also help you to refrain from impulse buying that eats up any extra cash so quickly.

Pay yourself first

You need to make saving a priority!

One effective way to do that is to pay yourself first. Before you pay any other bills and buy anything else, make sure you set aside money for yourself first.

How do you pay yourself first?

It’s easy! Schedule an automatic transfer of a portion of your earnings to your savings account. Make the amount at least 10% of your paycheck minimum. With this system, you never even miss the money.

Believe me, before I started, I was sure I would be short on cash every month, but I never missed it! And soon, I had a nice little pool of money saved up!

Invest

Once you have set up the automatic savings plan as discussed above, the money needs to be invested properly so that your savings can work hard for you. Don’t let your saved money just sit there or you will lose it to inflation.

It needs to be invested in reliable and growing investments. Mutual funds, stocks, and real estate all have great potential when invested in properly.

For investing in the markets, there are advisors that can help you make the correct decisions. Be sure to choose a reputable advisor!

For investing in property, there are many real estate investing courses and real estate investing tools that can help and teach you how to make profitable real estate investments.

Set realistic goals

writing down insecurities

Goal setting is super important. Without them, you have no direction and no purpose in life!

Think of it this way:

If a ship were to leave port with no destination and no captain, it would end up drifting around the ocean until it eventually sinks!

The same is true for you. If you don’t set a goal or destination and steer yourself towards that goal, you will end up drifting around getting nowhere and fast. Take the controls and set some goals.

Don’t compare yourself to others

This is a fatal mistake many people make. They compare themselves and what they have to others. This often leads to competition and spending beyond what a person can comfortably afford.

Financially stable people don’t worry about what others have. They make sure that they are comfortable themselves. No matter what others have, they don’t overspend on ‘stuff’.

Set aside limiting beliefs

You can do anything you set your mind to!

If you are hurting a little bit financially, you have likely had negative thoughts about never having enough money or never having any luck. But have you ever considered that these very thoughts are sabotaging your success?

Negative thoughts like these have the power to change your behavior negatively, making you less likely to reach many of your goals. Get rid of these thoughts, start thinking positively, and you will be surprised at how your situation can change!

Being financially stable doesn’t mean you never have any fun! It just means that you adopt a few habits of financially successful people and you stick to them. You can still enjoy life. Just make small adjustments and soon, you will find yourself much farther ahead than you were!

See Also: How to Apply Good Financial Habits to the Rest of Your Life

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7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays

  • June 24, 2019

Stress is a silent killer and if you’re not doing well in coping with stress at work, it can spell problems for you.

Stress can strike anyone, even the most optimistic and energetic of people.

Your boss or teacher might not help as they keep pushing you to hit your goals. The next thing you know, you’ve lost your focus, energy, and confidence. You start going home late with stoop shoulders and a heavy feeling.

Then, you start seeking sweet treats to lift your mood.

Studies show that stress is one of the leading causes of chronic health conditions. Heart disease, accelerated aging, and diabetes are linked to stress. And if you’re not careful, this can lead to depression, too.

Yes, stress is inevitable. But there are many ways to manage it effectively on a daily basis.
Here are the best ones to help you start coping with stress at work.

Identify the nature or cause of your stress

To start coping with stress at work, you need to be more self-aware. Every time you are stressed out, step back and find out what’s really dragging you down.

In the workplace, stress can be due to the fear of being laid off. It can be due to an overwhelming workload or because of the leadership or management style of your boss.

At school, stress can be due to project deadlines, an unfavorable environment, and teaching style. Stress could also be due to financial and time constraints. It can also happen after a recent loss of a loved one.

To handle these situations, it’s best to talk to experts.

Control yourself. Eliminate your triggers to avoid feeling negative.

Allocate time for your hobbies, exercise, and social life

Set aside a couple of hours to hit the gym, do some painting (or writing), and commit to other hobbies. Choose who to hang out with. And, if possible, talk to an expert to get the social and emotional support you need to stay positive.

Coping with stress at work starts with your mornings

When you wake up early, you sleep early. This is especially true if you’re productive throughout the day and be more tired at the end of it.

It’s also the best time to apply Tony Robbins’ 15 Minutes of Fulfillment wherein you allocate the first 15 minutes of your day doing positive visualization. You may extend the 15 minutes to 30 minutes or an hour if possible.

Mel Robbins also promotes the 5-Second Rule that helps you avoid pushing your alarm clock’s snooze button. These principles can help you get on your feet fast and ready to take the day.

The secret to waking up and starting a great day really lies in your bedtime routine. Before you sleep, spend some time to pray, meditate, and write a one-liner gratitude journal. It also helps to plan, organize, and prioritize your to-do list for the next day before you sleep.

Choose your breaks strategically

Taking a break just because your friend invites you for a short cigarette or coffee break isn’t a good idea. Stopping in the middle of a task can disrupt your flow. When you get back to work, you won’t be as focused as before.

Learn to say no.

You can use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time. This technique allows you to transition from work-mode to relax-mode without compromising your productivity.

See Also: Hack the Pomodoro Technique to Boost Your Productivity

Don’t compromise your sleeping patterns and your healthy diet

It’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging out with friends for too long after work to ease your stress. But remember, the best way to ease your stress is to get adequate sleep.

Eating sweets may seem to alleviate stress, but indulging on sweet treats after work and at night can increase your insulin levels. The next thing you know, you’re having trouble sleeping.

Instead of sweets, eat foods that will help you fall asleep faster. A dinner consisting of almonds, turkey, walnuts, fatty fish, and kiwi is best. You can pair this up with chamomile tea, tart cherry juice or passionflower tea.

Take advantage of online time management, productivity tools, and stress management apps

A plethora of apps and tools are now available to help enhance productivity. These can help you get more things done in a day. Specifically, you may get started with the following:

Pomodoro Timer– to allocate time for work and rest

Pocket, Wunderlist, Trello – to create and organize tasks

Pocket Yoga – to meditate and exercise on the go

Spotify, Deezer – to listen to your choice of soothing, stress-relieving, or inspiring music or audio

Don’t forget to equip your web browser with a plug-in that limits your use of social media and other non-work related websites.

Be consistent and be patient with yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

You have to understand that handling stress is a skill that needs to be developed with consistency and commitment. If you think you failed today, plan and commit to doing better tomorrow!

Doing this helps you avoid the feeling of being stuck with self-blame and self-pity which also causes stress.

The reality is this:

Stress is as constant as change in the world. So don’t feel helpless and depressed when you’re experiencing it. This is normal and everyone has their own kind of stress.

You just have to know how to start coping with stress at work. And for that, what you need to do is to commit to following the tips above to fight stress and live a happier and longer life.

The post 7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

What I Learned From Designing AR Apps

  • June 24, 2019

What I Learned From Designing AR Apps

What I Learned From Designing AR Apps

Gleb Kuznetsov

2019-06-24T12:00:59+02:00
2019-06-24T20:35:42+00:00

The digital and technological landscape is constantly changing — new products and technologies are popping up every day. Designers have to keep track of what is trending and where creative opportunities are. A great designer has the vision to analyze new technology, identify its potential, and use it to design better products or services.

Among the various technologies that we have today, there’s one that gets a lot of attention: Augmented Reality. Companies like Apple and Google realize the potential of AR and invest significant amounts of resources into this technology. But when it comes to creating an AR experience, many designers find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Does AR require a different kind of UX and design process?

As for me, I’m a big fan of learning-by-doing, and I was lucky enough to work on the Airbus mobile app as well as the Rokid AR glasses OS product design. I’ve established a few practical rules that will help designers to get started creating compelling AR experiences. The rules work both for mobile augmented reality (MAR) and AR glasses experiences.

Rokid Glasses motion design exploration by Gleb Kuznetsov

Glossary

Let’s quickly define the key terms that we will use in the article:

  • Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR) is delivering augmented reality experienced on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets);
  • AR Glasses are a wearable smart display with a see-through viewing an augmented reality experience.

1. Get Buy-In From Stakeholders

Similar to any other project you work for, it is vital that you get support from stakeholders as early in the process as is possible. Despite being buzzed about for years, many stakeholders have never used AR products. As a result, they can question the technology just because they don’t understand the value it delivers. Our objective is to get an agreement from them.

“Why do we want to use AR? What problem does it solve?” are questions that stakeholders ask when they evaluate the design. It’s vital to connect your design decisions to the goals and objectives of the business. Before reaching stakeholders, you need to evaluate your product for AR potential. Here are three areas where AR can bring a lot of value:

  • Business Goals
    Understand the business goals you’re trying to solve for using AR. Stakeholders always appreciate connecting design solutions to the goals of the business. A lot of time business will respond to quantifiable numbers. Thus, be ready to provide an explanation off how your design is intended to help the company make more money or save more money.
  • Helpfulness For Users
    AR will provide a better user experience and make the user journey a lot easier. Stakeholders appreciate technologies that improve the main use of the app. Think about the specific value that AR brings to users.
  • Creativity
    AR is excellent when it comes to creating a more memorable experience and improving the design language of a product. Businesses often have a specific image they are trying to portrait, and product design has to reflect this.

Only when you have a clear answer to the question “Why is this better with AR?”, you will need to share your thoughts with stakeholders. Invest your time in preparing a presentation. Seeing is believing, and you’ll have better chances of buy-in from management when you show a demo for them. The demo should make it clear what are you proposing.

2. Discovery And Ideation

Explore And Use Solutions From Other Fields

No matter what product you design, you have to spend enough time researching the subject. When it comes to designing for AR, look for innovations and successful examples with similar solutions from other industries. For example, when my team was designing audio output for AR glasses, we learned a lot from headphones and speakers on mobile phones.

Design User Journey Using “As A User I Want” Technique

One of the fundamental things you should remember when designing AR experiences is that AR exists outside of the phone or glasses. AR technology is just a medium that people use to receive information. The tasks that users want to accomplish using this technology are what is really important.

“How to define a key feature set and be sure it will be valuable for our users?” is a crucial question you need to answer before designing your product. Since the core idea of user-centered design is to keep the user in the center, your design must be based on the understanding of users, their goals and contexts of use. In other words, we need to embrace the user journey.

When I work on a new project, I use a simple technique “As a [type of user], I want [goal] because [reason].” I put myself in the user’s shoes and think about what will be valuable for them. This technique is handy during brainstorming sessions. Used together with storyboarding, it allows you to explore various scenarios of interaction.

In the article “Designing Tomorrow Today: the Airbus iflyA380 App,” I’ve described in detail the process that my team followed when we created the app. The critical element of the design process was getting into the passenger’s mind, looking for insights into what the best user experience would be before, during and after their flight.

To understand what travelers like and dislike about the travel experience, we held a lot of brainstorming sessions together with Airbus. Those sessions revealed a lot of valuable insights. For example, we found that visiting the cabin (from home) before flying on the A380 was one of the common things users want to do. The app uses augmented reality so people can explore the cabin and virtually visit the upper deck, the cockpit, the lounges — wherever they want to go — even before boarding the plane.

IFLY A380 iOS app design by Gleb Kuznetsov
IFLY A380 iOS app design by Gleb Kuznetsov. (Large preview)

App also accompanies passengers from the beginning to the end of their journey — basically, everything a traveler wants to do with the trip is wrapped up in a single app. Finding your seat is one of the features we implemented. This feature uses AR to show your seat in a plane. As a frequent traveler, I love that feature; you don’t need to search for the place at the time when you enter the cabin, you can do it beforehand — from the comfort of your couch. Users can access this feature right from the boarding pass — by tapping on ‘glass’ icon.

IFLY A380 app users can access the AR feature by tapping on the ‘glass’ icon

IFLY A380 app users can access the AR feature by tapping on the ‘glass’ icon. (Large preview)

Narrow Down Use Cases

It might be tempting to use AR to solve a few different problems for users. But in many cases, it’s better to resist this temptation. Why? Because by adding too many features in your product, you make it not only more complex but also more expensive. This rule is even more critical for AR experience that generally requires more effort. It’s always better to start with simple but well-designed AR experience rather than multiple complex but loose designed AR experiences.

Here are two simple rules to follow:

  • Prioritize the problems and focus on the critical ones.
  • Use storyboarding to understand exactly how users will interact with your app.
  • Remember to be realistic. Being realistic means that you need to strike a balance between creativity and technical capabilities.

Use Prototypes To Assess Ideas

When we design traditional apps, we often use static sketches to assess ideas. But this approach won’t work for AR apps.


Understanding whether a particular idea is good or bad cannot be captured from a static sketch; quite often the ideas that look great on paper don’t work in a real-life context.

Thus, we need to interact with a prototype to get this understanding. That’s why it’s essential to get to prototyping state as soon as possible.

It’s important to mention that when I say ‘prototyping state’ I don’t mean a state when you create a polished high-fidelity prototype of your product that looks and work as a real product. What I mean is using a technique of rapid prototyping and building a prototype that helps you experience the interaction. You need to make prototypes really fast — remember that the goal of rapid prototyping is in evaluating your ideas, not in demonstrating your skills as a visual designer.

3. Design

Similar to any other product you design, when you work on AR product, your ultimate goal is to create intuitive, engaging, and clean interface. But it can be challenging since the interface in AR apps accounts both for input and output.

Physical Environment

AR is inherently an environmental medium. That’s why the first step in designing AR experience is defining where the user will be using your app. It’s vital to select the environment up front. And when I say ‘environment’, I mean a physical environment where the user will experience the app — it could be indoors or outdoors.

Here are three crucial moments that you should consider:

  1. How much space users need to experience AR? Users should have a clear understanding of the amount of space they’ll need for your app. Help users understand the ideal conditions for using the app before they start the experience.
  2. Anticipate that people will use your app in environments that aren’t optimal for AR. Most physical environments can have limitations. For example, your app is AR table tennis game but your users might not have a large horizontal surface. In this case, you might want to use a virtual table generated based on your device orientation.
  3. Light estimation is essential. Your app should analyze the environment automatically and provide contextual guidance if the environment is not good enough. If the environment is too dark or too bright for your app, tell the user that they should find a better place to use your app. ARCore and ARKit have a built-in system for light estimation.

When my team designed Airbus i380 mobile AR experience, we took the available physical space into account. Also, we’ve considered the other aspects of interaction, such as the speed at which the user should make decisions. For instance, the user who wants to find her seat during the boarding won’t have too much time.

We sketched the environment (in our case, it was a plane inside and outside) and put AR objects in our sketch. By making our ideas tangible, we got an understanding of how the user will want to interact with our app and how our app will adapt to the constraints of the environment.

AR Realism And AR Objects Aesthetics

After you define the environment and required properties, you will need to design AR objects. One of the goals behind creating AR experience is to blend virtual with real. The objects you design should fit into the environment — people should believe that AR objects are real. That’s why it’s important to render digital content in context with the highest levels of realism.

Here are a few rules to follow:

  • Focus on the level of details and design 3D assets with lifelike textures. I recommend using multi-layer texture model such as PBR (Physically Based Rendering model). Most AR development tools support it, and this is the most cost-effective solution to achieve an advanced degree of detail for your AR objects.
  • Get the lighting right. Lighting is a very crucial factor for creating realism — the wrong light instantly breaks the immersion. Use dynamic lighting, reflect environmental lighting conditions on virtual objects, cast object shadows, and reflections on real-world surfaces to create more realistic objects. Also, your app should react to real-world changing of lighting.
  • Minimize the size of textures. Mobile devices are generally less powerful than desktops. Thus, to let your scene load faster, don’t make textures too large. Strive to use 2k resolution at most.
  • Add visual noise to AR textures. Flat-colored surfaces will look fake to the user’s eye. Textures will appear more lifelike when you introduce rips, pattern disruptions, and other forms of visual noise.
  • Prevent flickering. Update the scene 60 times per second to prevent flickering of AR objects.

Design For Safety And Comfort

AR usually accompanied by the word ‘immersive.’ Creating immersive experience is a great goal, but AR immersion can be dangerous — people can be so immersed in smartphones/glasses, so they forget what is happening around them, and this can cause problems. Users might not notice hazards around them and bump into objects. This phenomenon is known as cognitive tunneling. And it caused a lot of physical traumas.

  • Avoid users from doing anything uncomfortable — for example, physically demanding actions or rapid/expansive motion.
  • Keep the user safe. Avoid situations when users have to walk backward.
  • Avoid long play AR sessions. Users can get fatigued using AR for extended periods. Design stop points and in-app notifications that they should take a break. For instance, if you design an AR game, let users pause or save their progress.

Placement For Virtual Objects

There are two ways of placing virtual objects — on the screen or in the world. Depending on the needs of your project and device capabilities, you can follow either the first or second approach. Generally, virtual elements should be placed in world space if they suppose to act like real objects (e.g., a virtual statue in AR space), and should be placed as an on-screen overlay if they intended to be UI controls or information messages (e.g., notification).

Rokid Glasses

Rokid Glasses. (Large preview)

‘Should every object in AR space be 3D?’ is a common question among designers who work on AR experiences. The answer is no. Not everything in the AR space should be 3D. In fact, in some cases like in-app notifications, it’s preferable to use flat 2D objects because they will be less visually distracting.

Rokid Glasses motion design exploration by Gleb Kuznetsov
Rokid Glasses motion design exploration by Gleb Kuznetsov. (Large preview)

Avoid Using Haptic Feedback

Phone vibrations are frequently used to send feedback in mobile apps. But using the same approach in AR can cause a lot of problems — haptic feedback introduces extra noise and makes the experience less enjoyable (especially for AR Glasses users). In most cases, it’s better to use sound effect for feedback.

Make A Clear Transition Into AR

Both for MAR and AR glass experiences, you should let users know they’re about to transition into AR. Design a transition state. For the ifly380 app, we used an animated transition — a simple animated effect that user sees when taps on the AR mode icon.

Trim all the fat.

Devote as much of the screen as possible to viewing the physical world and your app’s virtual objects:

  • Reduce the total number of interactable elements on the screen available for the user at one moment of time.
  • Avoid placing visible UI controls and text messages in your viewport unless they are necessary for the interaction. A visually clean UI lends itself seamlessly to the immersive experience you’re building.
  • Prevent distractions. Limit the number of times when objects appear on the user screen out of the blue. Anything that appears out of the blue instantly kills realism and make the user focus on the object.

AR Object Manipulation And Delineating Boundaries Between The ‘Augment’ And The ‘Reality’

When it comes to designing a mechanism of interaction with virtual objects, favor direct manipulation for virtual objects — the user should be able to touch an object on the screen and interact with it using standard, familiar gestures, rather than interact with separate visible UI controls.

Also, users should have a clear understanding of what elements they can interact with and what elements are static. Make it easy for users to spot interactive objects and then interact with them by providing visual signifiers for interactive objects. Use glowing outlines or other visual highlights to let users know what’s interactive.

Scan object effect for outdoor MAR by Gleb Kuznetsov
Scan object effect for outdoor MAR by Gleb Kuznetsov. (Large preview)

When the user interacts with an object, you need to communicate that the object is selected visually. Design a selection state — use either highlight the entire object or space underneath it to give the user a clear indication that it’s selected.

Last but not least, follows the rules of physics for objects. Just like real objects, AR objects should react to the real-world environment.

Design For Freedom Of Camera

AR invites movement and motion from the user. One of the significant challenges when designing or AR is giving users the ability to control the camera. When you give users the ability to control the view, they will swing device around in an attempt to find the points of interest. And not all apps are designed to help the user to control the viewfinder.

Google identifies four different ways that a user can move in AR space:

  1. Seated, with hands fixed.
  2. Seated, with hands moving.
  3. Standing still, with hands fixed.
  4. Moving around in a real-world space.

The first three ways are common for mobile AR while the last one is common for AR glasses.

In some cases, MAR users want to rotate the device for ease of use. Don’t interrupt the camera with rotation animation.

Consider Accessibility When Designing AR

As with any other product we design, our goal is to make augmented reality technology accessible for people. Here are a few general recommendations on how to address real-world accessibility issues:

  • Blind users. Visual information is not accessible to blind users. To make AR accessible for blind users, you might want to use audio or haptic feedback to deliver navigation instructions and other important information.
  • Deaf or hard-hearing users. For AR experience that requires voice interaction, you can use visual signals as an input method (also known as speechreading). The app can learn to analyze lip movement and translate this data in commands.

If you’re interested in learning more practical tips on how to create accessible AR apps, consider watching the video talk by Leah Findlater:

Encourage Users To Move

If your experience demands exploration, remind users they can move around. Many users have never experienced a 360-degree virtual environment before, and you need to motivate them to change the position of their device. You can use an interactive object to do that. For example, during I/0 2018, Google used an animated fox for Google Maps that guided users to the target destination.

This AR experience uses an animated bird to guide users

This AR experience uses an animated bird to guide users. (Large preview)

Remember That Animation Is A Designer’s Best Friend

Animation can be multipurpose. First, you can use a combination of visual cues and animation to teach users. For example, the animation of a moving phone around will make it clear what users have to do to initialize the app.

Second, you can use animation to create emotions.


One second of emotion can change the whole reality for people engaging with a product.

Well-designed animated effects help to create a connection between the user and the product — they make the object feel tangible. Even a simple object such as loading indicator can build a bridge of trust between users and the device.

Rokid Alien motion design by Gleb Kuznetsov
Rokid Alien motion design by Gleb Kuznetsov. (Large preview)

A critical moment about animation — after discovering the elements of design and finding design solutions for the animation base, it’s essential to spend enough time on creating a proper animated effect. It took lots of iterations to finish a loading animation that you see above. You have to test every animation to be sure it works for your design and be ready to adjust color, positioning, etc. to give the best effect.

Prototype On The Actual Device

In the interview for Rokid team, Jeshua Nanthakumar mentioned that the most effective AR prototypes are always physical. That’s because when you prototype on the actual device, from the beginning, you make design work well on hardware and software that people actually use. When it comes to unique displays like on the Rokid Glasses, this methodology is especially important. By doing that you’ll ensure your design is implementable.

Motion design language exploration for AR Glasses Rokid by Gleb Kuznetsov
Motion design language exploration for AR Glasses Rokid by Gleb Kuznetsov. (Large preview)

My team was responsible for designing the AR motion design language and loading animation for AR glasses. We decided to use a 3D sphere that will be rotated during the loading and will have nice reflections on its edges. The design of the animated effect took two weeks of hard work of motion designers and it looked gorgeous on high-res monitors of our design team, but the final result wasn’t good enough because the animation caused motion sickness.

Motion sickness often caused by the discrepancies between the motion perceived from the screen of AR Glasses and the actual movement of the user’s head. But in our case, the root cause of the motion sickness was different — since we put a lot of attention in polishing details like shapes, reflections, etc. unintentionally we made users focus on those details while the sphere was moving.

As a result, the motion happened in the periphery, and since humans are more sensitive to the moving objects in the periphery this caused motion sickness. We solved this problem by simplifying the animation. But it’s critical to mention that we won’t be able to find this problem without testing on the actual device.

If we compare the actual procedure of testing of AR apps with traditional GUI apps, it will be evident that testing AR apps require more manual interactions. A person who conducts testing should determine whether the app provides the correct output based on the current context.

Here are a few tips that I have for conducting efficient usability testing sessions:

  • Prepare a physical environment to test in. Try to create real-world conditions for your app — test it with various physical objects, in different scenes with different lighting. But the environment might not be limited to scene and lighting.
  • Don’t try to test everything all at once. Use a technique of chunking. Breaking down a complex flow into smaller pieces and testing them separately is always beneficial.
  • Always record your testing session. Record everything that you see in the AR glass. A session record will be beneficial during discussions with your team.
  • Testing for motion sickness.
  • Share your testing results with developers. Try to mitigate the gap between design and development. Make sure your engineering team knows what problem you face.

Conclusion

Similar to any other new technology, AR comes with many unknowns. Designers who work on AR projects have a role of explorers — they experiment and try various approaches in order to find the one that works best for their product and delivers the value for people who will use it.

Personally, I believe that it’s always great to explore new mediums and find new original ways of solving old problems. We are still at the beginning stages of the new technological revolution — the exciting time when technologies like AR will be an expected part of our daily routines — and it’s our opportunity to create a solid foundation for the future generation of designers.

Smashing Editorial
(cc, yk, il)

What’s New in Android: Q Beta 3 & More

  • June 24, 2019

Posted by Dave Burke, VP, Engineering

Today Android is celebrating two amazing milestones. It’s Android’s version 10! And today, Android is running on more than 2.5B active Android devices.

With Android Q, we’ve focused on three themes: innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing. We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology — 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more — while making sure users’ security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority.

Earlier at Google I/O we highlighted what’s new in Android Q and unveiled the latest update, Android Q Beta 3. Your feedback continues to be extremely valuable in shaping today’s update as well as our final release to the ecosystem in the fall.

This year, Android Q Beta 3 is available on 15 partner devices from 12 OEMs — that’s twice as many devices as last year! It’s all thanks to Project Treble and especially to our partners who are committed to accelerating updates to Android users globally — Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, ASUS, LGE, TECNO, Essential, and realme.

Visit android.com/beta to see the full list of Beta devices and learn how to get today’s update on your device. If you have a Pixel device, you can enroll here to get Beta 3 — if you’re already enrolled, watch for the update coming soon. To get started developing with Android Q Beta, visit developer.android.com/preview.

Privacy and security

As we talked about at Google I/O, privacy and security are important to our whole company and in Android Q we’ve added many more protections for users.

Privacy

In Android Q, privacy has been a central focus, from strengthening protections in the platform to designing new features with privacy in mind. It’s more important than ever to give users control — and transparency — over how information is collected and used by apps, and by our phones.

Building on our work in previous releases, Android Q includes extensive changes across the platform to improve privacy and give users control — from improved system UI to stricter permissions to restrictions on what data apps can use.

For example, Android Q gives users more control over when apps can get location. Apps still ask the user for permission, but now in Android Q the user has greater choice over when to allow access to location — such as only while the app is in use, all the time, or never. Read the developer guide for details on how to adapt your app for the new location controls.

Outside of location, we also introduced the Scoped Storage feature to give users control over files and prevent apps from accessing sensitive user or app data. Your feedback has helped us refine this feature, and we recently announced several changes to make it easier to support. These are now available in Beta 3.

Another important change is restricting app launches from the background, which prevents apps from unexpectedly jumping into the foreground and taking over focus. In Beta 3 we’re transitioning from toast warnings to actually blocking these launches.

To prevent tracking we’re limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers. Read the best practices to choose the right identifiers for your use case. We’re also randomizing MAC address when your device is connected to different Wi-Fi networks and gating connectivity APIs behind the location permission. We’re bringing these changes to you early, so you can have as much time as possible to prepare your apps.

Security

To keep users secure, we’ve extended our BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level. We’re extending support for passive authentication methods such as face, and we’ve added implicit and explicit authentication flows. In the explicit flow, the user must explicitly confirm the transaction. The new implicit flow is designed for a lighter-weight alternative for transactions with passive authentication, and there’s no need for users to explicitly confirm.

Android Q also adds support for TLS 1.3, a major revision to the TLS standard that includes performance benefits and enhanced security. Our benchmarks indicate that secure connections can be established as much as 40% faster with TLS 1.3 compared to TLS 1.2. TLS 1.3 is enabled by default for all TLS connections made through Android’s TLS stack, called Conscrypt, regardless of target API level. See the docs for details.

Project Mainline

Today we also announced Project Mainline, a new approach to keeping Android users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes, direct from Google Play. With Project Mainline, we’re now able to update specific internal components within the OS itself, without requiring a full system update from your device manufacturer. This means we can help keep the OS code on devices fresher, drive a new level of consistency, and bring the latest AOSP code to users faster — and for a longer period of time.

We plan to update Project Mainline modules in much the same way as app updates are delivered today — downloading the latest versions from Google Play in the background and loading them the next time the phone starts up. The source code for the modules will continue to live in the Android Open Source Project, and updates will be fully open-sourced as they are released. Also, because they’re open source, they’ll include improvements and bug fixes contributed by our many partners and developer community worldwide.

For users, the benefits are huge, since their devices will always be running the latest versions of the modules, including the latest updates for security, privacy, and consistency. For device makers, carriers, and enterprises, the benefits are also huge, since they can optimize and secure key parts of the OS without the cost of a full system update.

For app and game developers, we expect Project Mainline to help drive consistency of platform implementation in key areas across devices, over time bringing greater uniformity that will reduce development and testing costs and help to make sure your apps work as expected. All devices running Android Q or later will be able to get Project Mainline, and we’re working closely with our partners to make sure their devices are ready.

Innovation and new experiences

Android is shaping the leading edge of innovation. With our ecosystem partners, we’re enabling new experiences through a combination of hardware and software advances.

Foldables

This year, display technology will take a big leap with foldable devices coming to the Android ecosystem from several top device makers. When folded these devices work like a phone, then you unfold a beautiful tablet-sized screen.

We’ve optimized Android Q to ensure that screen continuity is seamless in these transitions, and apps and games can pick up right where they left off. For multitasking, we’ve made some changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We’ve also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on large screens.

Our partners have already started showing their innovative foldable devices, with more to come. You can get started building and testing today with our foldables emulator in canary release of Android Studio 3.5.

5G networks

5G networks are the next evolution of wireless technology — providing consistently faster speeds and lower latency. For developers, 5G can unlock new kinds of experiences in your apps and supercharge existing ones.

Android Q adds platform support for 5G and extends existing APIs to help you transform your apps for 5G. You can use connectivity APIs to detect if the device has a high bandwidth connection and check whether the connection is metered. With these your apps and games can tailor rich, immersive experiences to users over 5G.

With Android’s open ecosystem and range of partners, we expect the Android ecosystem to scale to support 5G quickly. This year, over a dozen Android device makers are launching 5G-ready devices, and more than 20 carriers will launch 5G networks around the world, with some already broad-scale.

Live Caption

On top of hardware innovation, we’re continuing to see Android’s AI transforming the OS itself to make it smarter and easier to use, for a wider range of people. A great example is Live Caption, a new feature in Android Q that automatically captions media playing on your phone.

Many people watch videos with captions on — the captions help them keep up, even when on the go or in a crowded place. But for 466 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience — they make content accessible. We worked with the Deaf community to develop Live Caption.

Live Caption brings real-time captions to media on your phone – videos, podcasts, and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Best of all, it doesn’t even require a network connection — everything happens on the device, thanks to a breakthrough in speech recognition that we made earlier this year. The live speech models run right on the phone, and no audio stream ever leaves your device.

For developers, Live Caption expands the audience for your apps and games by making digital media more accessible with a single tap. Live Caption will be available later this year.

Suggested actions in notifications

In Android Pie we introduced smart replies for notifications that let users engage with your apps direct from notifications. We provided the APIs to attach replies and actions, but you needed to build those on your own.

Now in Android Q we want to make smart replies available to all apps right now, without you needing to do anything. Starting in Beta 3, we’re enabling system-provided smart replies and actions that are inserted directly into notifications by default.

You can still supply your own replies and actions if you want — such as if you are using ML Kit or other ML frameworks. Just opt out of the system-provided replies or actions on a per-notification basis using setAllowGeneratedReplies() and setAllowSystemGeneratedContextualActions().

Android Q suggestions are powered by an on-device ML service built into the platform — the same service that backs our text classifier entity recognition service. We’ve built it with user privacy in mind, and the ML processing happens completely on the device, not on a backend server.

Because suggested actions are based on the TextClassifier service, they can take advantage of new capabilities we’ve added in Android Q, such as language detection. You can also use TextClassifier APIs directly to generate system-provided notifications and actions, and you can mix those with your own replies and actions as needed.

Dark theme

Many users prefer apps that offer a UI with a dark theme they can switch to when light is low, to reduce eye strain and save battery. Users have also asked for a simple way to enable dark theme everywhere across their devices. Dark theme has been a popular request for a while, and in Android Q, it’s finally here.

Starting in Android Q Beta 3, users can activate a new system-wide dark theme by going to Settings > Display, using the new Quick Settings tile, or turning on Battery Saver. This changes the system UI to dark, and enables the dark theme of apps that support it. Apps can build their own dark themes, or they can opt-in to a new Force Dark feature that lets the OS create a dark version of their existing theme. All you have to do is opt-in by setting android:forceDarkAllowed="true" in your app’s current theme.

You may also want to take complete control over your app’s dark styling, which is why we’ve also been hard at work improving AppCompat’s DayNight feature. By using DayNight, apps can offer a dark theme to all of their users, regardless of what version of Android they’re using on their devices. For more information, see here.

Gestural navigation

Many of the latest Android devices feature beautiful edge-to-edge screens, and users want to take advantage of every bit of them. In Android Q we’re introducing a new fully gestural navigation mode that eliminates the navigation bar area and allows apps and games to use the full screen to deliver their content. It retains the familiar Back, Home, and recents navigation through edge swipes rather than visible buttons.

Users can switch to gestures in Settings > System > Gestures. There are currently two gestures: Swiping up from the bottom of the screen takes the user to the Home screen, holding brings up Recents. Swiping from the screen’s left or right edge triggers the Back action.

To blend seamlessly with gestural navigation, apps should go edge-to-edge, drawing behind the navigation bar to create an immersive experience. To implement this, apps should use the setSystemUiVisibility() API to be laid out fullscreen, and then handle WindowInsets as appropriate to ensure that important pieces of UI are not obscured. More information is here.

Digital wellbeing

Digital wellbeing is another theme of our work on Android — we want to give users the visibility and tools to find balance with the way they use their phones. Last year we launched Digital Wellbeing with Dashboards, App Timers, Flip to Shush, and Wind Down mode. These tools are really helping. App timers helped users stick to their goals over 90% of the time, and users of Wind Down had a 27% drop in nightly usage.

This year we’re continuing to expand our features to help people find balance with digital devices, adding Focus Mode and Family Link.

Focus Mode

Focus Mode is designed for all those times you’re working or studying, and you want to to focus to get something done. With focus mode, you can pick the apps that you think might distract you and silence them – for example, pausing email and the News while leaving maps and text message apps active. You can then use Quick Tiles to turn on Focus Mode any time you want to focus. Under the covers, these apps will be paused – until you come out of Focus Mode! Focus Mode is coming to Android 9 Pie and Android Q devices this Fall.

Family Link

Family Link is a new set of controls to help parents. Starting in Android Q, Family Link will be built right into the Settings on the device. When you set up a new device for your child, Family Link will help you connect it to you. You’ll be able to set daily screen time limits, see the apps where your child is spending time, review any new apps your child wants to install, and even set a device bedtime so your child can disconnect and get to sleep. And now in Android Q you can also set time limits on specific apps… as well as give your kids Bonus Time if you want them to have just 5 more minutes at bedtime. Family Link is coming to Android P and Q devices this Fall. Make sure to check out the other great wellbeing apps in the recent Google Play awards.

Family link lets parents set device bedtime and even give bonus minutes.

Android Foundations

We’re continuing to extend the foundations of Android with more capabilities to help you build new experiences for your users — here are just a few.

Improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity

In Android Q we’ve refactored the Wi-Fi stack to improve privacy and performance, and also to improve common use-cases like managing IoT devices and suggesting internet connections — without requiring the location permission. The network connection APIs make it easier to manage IoT devices over local Wi-Fi, for peer-to-peer functions like configuring, downloading, or printing. The network suggestion APIs let apps surface preferred Wi-Fi networks to the user for internet connectivity.

Wi-Fi performance modes

In Android Q apps can now request adaptive Wi-Fi by enabling high performance and low latency modes. These will be of great benefit where low latency is important to the user experience, such as real-time gaming, active voice calls, and similar use-cases. The platform works with the device firmware to meet the requirement with the lowest power consumption. To use the new performance modes, call WifiManager.WifiLock.createWifiLock().

Full support for Wi-Fi RTT accurate indoor positioning

In Android 9 Pie we introduced RTT APIs for indoor positioning to accurately measure distance to nearby Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) that support the IEEE 802.11mc protocol, based on measuring the round-trip time of Wi-Fi packets. Now in Android Q, we’ve completed our implementation of the 802.11mc standard, adding an API to obtain location information of each AP being ranged, configured by their owner during installation.

Audio playback capture

You saw how Live Caption can take audio from any app and instantly turn it into on-screen captions. It’s a seamless experience that shows how powerful it can be for one app to share its audio stream with another. In Android Q, any app that plays audio can let other apps capture its audio stream using a new API. In addition to enabling captioning and subtitles, the API lets you support popular use-cases like live-streaming games, all without latency impact on the source app or game.

We’ve designed this new capability with privacy and copyright protection in mind, so the ability for an app to capture another app’s audio is constrained, giving apps full control over whether their audio streams can be captured. Read more here.

Dynamic depth for photos

Apps can now request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support. Requesting a JPEG + Dynamic Depth image makes it possible for you to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app. You can even use the data to create 3D images or support AR photography use-cases. Dynamic Depth is an open format for the ecosystem — the latest version of the spec is here. We’re working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later.



With Dynamic Depth image you can offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app

New audio and video codecs

Android Q adds support for the open source video codec AV1, which allows media providers to stream high quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. In addition, Android Q supports audio encoding using Opus – a codec optimized for speech and music streaming, and HDR10+ for high dynamic range video on devices that support it. The MediaCodecInfo API introduces an easier way to determine the video rendering capabilities of an Android device. For any given codec, you can obtain a list of supported sizes and frame rates.

Vulkan 1.1 and ANGLE

We’re continuing to expand the impact of Vulkan on Android, our implementation of the low-overhead, cross-platform API for high-performance 3D graphics. We’re working together with our device manufacturer partners to make Vulkan 1.1 a requirement on all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher, and a recommendation for all 32-bit devices. For game and graphics developers using OpenGL, we’re also working towards a standard, updateable OpenGL driver for all devices built on Vulkan. In Android Q we’re adding experimental support for ANGLE on top of Vulkan on Android devices. See the docs for details.

Neural Networks API 1.2

In NNAPI 1.2 we’ve added 60 new ops including ARGMAX, ARGMIN, quantized LSTM, alongside a range of performance optimisations. This lays the foundation for accelerating a much greater range of models — such as those for object detection and image segmentation. We are working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.2.

Thermal API

When devices get too warm, they may throttle the CPU and/or GPU, and this can affect apps and games in unexpected ways. Now in Android Q, apps and games can use a thermal API to monitor changes on the device and take action to help restore normal temperature. For example, streaming apps can reduce resolution/bit rate or network traffic, a camera app could disable flash or intensive image enhancement, or a game could reduce frame rate or polygon tesselation. Read more here.

ART optimizations

Android Q introduces several improvements to the ART runtime to help your apps start faster, consume less memory, and run smoother — without requiring any work from you. To help with initial app startup, Google Play is now delivering cloud-based profiles along with APKs. These are anonymized, aggregate ART profiles that let ART pre-compile parts of your app even before it’s run. Cloud-based profiles benefit all apps and they’re already available to devices running Android P and higher.

We’re also adding Generational Garbage Collection to ART’s Concurrent Copying (CC) Garbage Collector. Generational CC collects young-generation objects separately, incurring much lower cost as compared to full-heap GC. It makes garbage collection more efficient in terms of time and CPU, reduces jank, and helps apps run better on lower-end devices.

More Android Q Beta devices, more Treble momentum than ever

In 2017 we launched Project Treble as part of Android Oreo, with a goal of accelerating OS updates. Treble provides a consistent, testable interface between Android and the underlying device code from device makers and silicon manufacturers, which makes porting a new OS version much simpler and more modular.

In 2018 we worked closely with our partners to bring the first OS updates to their Treble devices. The result: last year at Google I/O we had 8 devices from 7 partners joining our Android P Beta program, together with our Pixel and Pixel 2 devices. Fast forward to today — we’re seeing updates to Android Pie accelerating strongly, with 2.5 times the footprint compared to Android Oreo’s at the same time last year.

This year with Android Q we’re seeing even more momentum, and we have 23 devices from 13 top global device makers releasing Android Q Beta 3 — including all Pixel devices. We’re also providing Q Beta 3 Generic System Images (GSI), a testing environment for other supported Treble devices. All of these offer the same behaviors, APIs, and features — giving you an incredible variety of devices for testing your apps, and more ways for you to get an early look at Android Q.

You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. Try Android Q Beta on your favorite device today and let us know your feedback!

Explore the new features and APIs

When you’re ready, dive into Android Q and learn about the new features and APIs you can use in your apps. Take a look at the API diff report for an overview of what’s changed in Beta 3, and see the Android Q Beta API reference for details. Visit the Android Q Beta developer site for more resources, including release notes and how to report issues.

To build with Android Q, download the Android Q Beta SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.3 or higher, and follow these instructions to configure your environment. If you want the latest fixes for Android Q related changes, we recommend you use Android Studio 3.5 or higher.

How do I get Beta 3?

It’s easy! Just enroll any Pixel device here to get the update over-the-air. If you’re already enrolled, you’ll receive the update soon, and, no action is needed on your part. Downloadable system images are also available.

You can also get Beta 3 on any of the other devices participating in the Android Q Beta program, from some of our top device maker partners. You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. For each device you’ll find specs and links to the manufacturer’s dedicated site for downloads, support, and to report issues.

For even broader testing on supported devices, you can also get Android GSI images, and if you don’t have a device you can test on the Android Emulator — just download the latest emulator system images via the SDK Manager in Android Studio.

As always, your input is critical, so please let us know what you think. You can use our hotlists for filing platform issues (including privacy and behavior changes), app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues. You’ve shared great feedback with us so far and we’re working to integrate as much of it as possible in the next Beta release.

We’re looking forward to seeing your apps on Android Q!

What’s New in Android: Q Beta 3 & More

  • June 24, 2019

Posted by Dave Burke, VP, Engineering

Today Android is celebrating two amazing milestones. It’s Android’s version 10! And today, Android is running on more than 2.5B active Android devices.

With Android Q, we’ve focused on three themes: innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing. We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology — 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device AI, and more — while making sure users’ security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority.

Earlier at Google I/O we highlighted what’s new in Android Q and unveiled the latest update, Android Q Beta 3. Your feedback continues to be extremely valuable in shaping today’s update as well as our final release to the ecosystem in the fall.

This year, Android Q Beta 3 is available on 15 partner devices from 12 OEMs — that’s twice as many devices as last year! It’s all thanks to Project Treble and especially to our partners who are committed to accelerating updates to Android users globally — Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Sony, Vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, ASUS, LGE, TECNO, Essential, and realme.

Visit android.com/beta to see the full list of Beta devices and learn how to get today’s update on your device. If you have a Pixel device, you can enroll here to get Beta 3 — if you’re already enrolled, watch for the update coming soon. To get started developing with Android Q Beta, visit developer.android.com/preview.

Privacy and security

As we talked about at Google I/O, privacy and security are important to our whole company and in Android Q we’ve added many more protections for users.

Privacy

In Android Q, privacy has been a central focus, from strengthening protections in the platform to designing new features with privacy in mind. It’s more important than ever to give users control — and transparency — over how information is collected and used by apps, and by our phones.

Building on our work in previous releases, Android Q includes extensive changes across the platform to improve privacy and give users control — from improved system UI to stricter permissions to restrictions on what data apps can use.

For example, Android Q gives users more control over when apps can get location. Apps still ask the user for permission, but now in Android Q the user has greater choice over when to allow access to location — such as only while the app is in use, all the time, or never. Read the developer guide for details on how to adapt your app for the new location controls.

Outside of location, we also introduced the Scoped Storage feature to give users control over files and prevent apps from accessing sensitive user or app data. Your feedback has helped us refine this feature, and we recently announced several changes to make it easier to support. These are now available in Beta 3.

Another important change is restricting app launches from the background, which prevents apps from unexpectedly jumping into the foreground and taking over focus. In Beta 3 we’re transitioning from toast warnings to actually blocking these launches.

To prevent tracking we’re limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers. Read the best practices to choose the right identifiers for your use case. We’re also randomizing MAC address when your device is connected to different Wi-Fi networks and gating connectivity APIs behind the location permission. We’re bringing these changes to you early, so you can have as much time as possible to prepare your apps.

Security

To keep users secure, we’ve extended our BiometricPrompt authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level. We’re extending support for passive authentication methods such as face, and we’ve added implicit and explicit authentication flows. In the explicit flow, the user must explicitly confirm the transaction. The new implicit flow is designed for a lighter-weight alternative for transactions with passive authentication, and there’s no need for users to explicitly confirm.

Android Q also adds support for TLS 1.3, a major revision to the TLS standard that includes performance benefits and enhanced security. Our benchmarks indicate that secure connections can be established as much as 40% faster with TLS 1.3 compared to TLS 1.2. TLS 1.3 is enabled by default for all TLS connections made through Android’s TLS stack, called Conscrypt, regardless of target API level. See the docs for details.

Project Mainline

Today we also announced Project Mainline, a new approach to keeping Android users secure and their devices up-to-date with important code changes, direct from Google Play. With Project Mainline, we’re now able to update specific internal components within the OS itself, without requiring a full system update from your device manufacturer. This means we can help keep the OS code on devices fresher, drive a new level of consistency, and bring the latest AOSP code to users faster — and for a longer period of time.

We plan to update Project Mainline modules in much the same way as app updates are delivered today — downloading the latest versions from Google Play in the background and loading them the next time the phone starts up. The source code for the modules will continue to live in the Android Open Source Project, and updates will be fully open-sourced as they are released. Also, because they’re open source, they’ll include improvements and bug fixes contributed by our many partners and developer community worldwide.

For users, the benefits are huge, since their devices will always be running the latest versions of the modules, including the latest updates for security, privacy, and consistency. For device makers, carriers, and enterprises, the benefits are also huge, since they can optimize and secure key parts of the OS without the cost of a full system update.

For app and game developers, we expect Project Mainline to help drive consistency of platform implementation in key areas across devices, over time bringing greater uniformity that will reduce development and testing costs and help to make sure your apps work as expected. All devices running Android Q or later will be able to get Project Mainline, and we’re working closely with our partners to make sure their devices are ready.

Innovation and new experiences

Android is shaping the leading edge of innovation. With our ecosystem partners, we’re enabling new experiences through a combination of hardware and software advances.

Foldables

This year, display technology will take a big leap with foldable devices coming to the Android ecosystem from several top device makers. When folded these devices work like a phone, then you unfold a beautiful tablet-sized screen.

We’ve optimized Android Q to ensure that screen continuity is seamless in these transitions, and apps and games can pick up right where they left off. For multitasking, we’ve made some changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We’ve also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on large screens.

Our partners have already started showing their innovative foldable devices, with more to come. You can get started building and testing today with our foldables emulator in canary release of Android Studio 3.5.

5G networks

5G networks are the next evolution of wireless technology — providing consistently faster speeds and lower latency. For developers, 5G can unlock new kinds of experiences in your apps and supercharge existing ones.

Android Q adds platform support for 5G and extends existing APIs to help you transform your apps for 5G. You can use connectivity APIs to detect if the device has a high bandwidth connection and check whether the connection is metered. With these your apps and games can tailor rich, immersive experiences to users over 5G.

With Android’s open ecosystem and range of partners, we expect the Android ecosystem to scale to support 5G quickly. This year, over a dozen Android device makers are launching 5G-ready devices, and more than 20 carriers will launch 5G networks around the world, with some already broad-scale.

Live Caption

On top of hardware innovation, we’re continuing to see Android’s AI transforming the OS itself to make it smarter and easier to use, for a wider range of people. A great example is Live Caption, a new feature in Android Q that automatically captions media playing on your phone.

Many people watch videos with captions on — the captions help them keep up, even when on the go or in a crowded place. But for 466 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience — they make content accessible. We worked with the Deaf community to develop Live Caption.

Live Caption brings real-time captions to media on your phone – videos, podcasts, and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Best of all, it doesn’t even require a network connection — everything happens on the device, thanks to a breakthrough in speech recognition that we made earlier this year. The live speech models run right on the phone, and no audio stream ever leaves your device.

For developers, Live Caption expands the audience for your apps and games by making digital media more accessible with a single tap. Live Caption will be available later this year.

Suggested actions in notifications

In Android Pie we introduced smart replies for notifications that let users engage with your apps direct from notifications. We provided the APIs to attach replies and actions, but you needed to build those on your own.

Now in Android Q we want to make smart replies available to all apps right now, without you needing to do anything. Starting in Beta 3, we’re enabling system-provided smart replies and actions that are inserted directly into notifications by default.

You can still supply your own replies and actions if you want — such as if you are using ML Kit or other ML frameworks. Just opt out of the system-provided replies or actions on a per-notification basis using setAllowGeneratedReplies() and setAllowSystemGeneratedContextualActions().

Android Q suggestions are powered by an on-device ML service built into the platform — the same service that backs our text classifier entity recognition service. We’ve built it with user privacy in mind, and the ML processing happens completely on the device, not on a backend server.

Because suggested actions are based on the TextClassifier service, they can take advantage of new capabilities we’ve added in Android Q, such as language detection. You can also use TextClassifier APIs directly to generate system-provided notifications and actions, and you can mix those with your own replies and actions as needed.

Dark theme

Many users prefer apps that offer a UI with a dark theme they can switch to when light is low, to reduce eye strain and save battery. Users have also asked for a simple way to enable dark theme everywhere across their devices. Dark theme has been a popular request for a while, and in Android Q, it’s finally here.

Starting in Android Q Beta 3, users can activate a new system-wide dark theme by going to Settings > Display, using the new Quick Settings tile, or turning on Battery Saver. This changes the system UI to dark, and enables the dark theme of apps that support it. Apps can build their own dark themes, or they can opt-in to a new Force Dark feature that lets the OS create a dark version of their existing theme. All you have to do is opt-in by setting android:forceDarkAllowed="true" in your app’s current theme.

You may also want to take complete control over your app’s dark styling, which is why we’ve also been hard at work improving AppCompat’s DayNight feature. By using DayNight, apps can offer a dark theme to all of their users, regardless of what version of Android they’re using on their devices. For more information, see here.

Gestural navigation

Many of the latest Android devices feature beautiful edge-to-edge screens, and users want to take advantage of every bit of them. In Android Q we’re introducing a new fully gestural navigation mode that eliminates the navigation bar area and allows apps and games to use the full screen to deliver their content. It retains the familiar Back, Home, and recents navigation through edge swipes rather than visible buttons.

Users can switch to gestures in Settings > System > Gestures. There are currently two gestures: Swiping up from the bottom of the screen takes the user to the Home screen, holding brings up Recents. Swiping from the screen’s left or right edge triggers the Back action.

To blend seamlessly with gestural navigation, apps should go edge-to-edge, drawing behind the navigation bar to create an immersive experience. To implement this, apps should use the setSystemUiVisibility() API to be laid out fullscreen, and then handle WindowInsets as appropriate to ensure that important pieces of UI are not obscured. More information is here.

Digital wellbeing

Digital wellbeing is another theme of our work on Android — we want to give users the visibility and tools to find balance with the way they use their phones. Last year we launched Digital Wellbeing with Dashboards, App Timers, Flip to Shush, and Wind Down mode. These tools are really helping. App timers helped users stick to their goals over 90% of the time, and users of Wind Down had a 27% drop in nightly usage.

This year we’re continuing to expand our features to help people find balance with digital devices, adding Focus Mode and Family Link.

Focus Mode

Focus Mode is designed for all those times you’re working or studying, and you want to to focus to get something done. With focus mode, you can pick the apps that you think might distract you and silence them – for example, pausing email and the News while leaving maps and text message apps active. You can then use Quick Tiles to turn on Focus Mode any time you want to focus. Under the covers, these apps will be paused – until you come out of Focus Mode! Focus Mode is coming to Android 9 Pie and Android Q devices this Fall.

Family Link

Family Link is a new set of controls to help parents. Starting in Android Q, Family Link will be built right into the Settings on the device. When you set up a new device for your child, Family Link will help you connect it to you. You’ll be able to set daily screen time limits, see the apps where your child is spending time, review any new apps your child wants to install, and even set a device bedtime so your child can disconnect and get to sleep. And now in Android Q you can also set time limits on specific apps… as well as give your kids Bonus Time if you want them to have just 5 more minutes at bedtime. Family Link is coming to Android P and Q devices this Fall. Make sure to check out the other great wellbeing apps in the recent Google Play awards.

Family link lets parents set device bedtime and even give bonus minutes.

Android Foundations

We’re continuing to extend the foundations of Android with more capabilities to help you build new experiences for your users — here are just a few.

Improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity

In Android Q we’ve refactored the Wi-Fi stack to improve privacy and performance, and also to improve common use-cases like managing IoT devices and suggesting internet connections — without requiring the location permission. The network connection APIs make it easier to manage IoT devices over local Wi-Fi, for peer-to-peer functions like configuring, downloading, or printing. The network suggestion APIs let apps surface preferred Wi-Fi networks to the user for internet connectivity.

Wi-Fi performance modes

In Android Q apps can now request adaptive Wi-Fi by enabling high performance and low latency modes. These will be of great benefit where low latency is important to the user experience, such as real-time gaming, active voice calls, and similar use-cases. The platform works with the device firmware to meet the requirement with the lowest power consumption. To use the new performance modes, call WifiManager.WifiLock.createWifiLock().

Full support for Wi-Fi RTT accurate indoor positioning

In Android 9 Pie we introduced RTT APIs for indoor positioning to accurately measure distance to nearby Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) that support the IEEE 802.11mc protocol, based on measuring the round-trip time of Wi-Fi packets. Now in Android Q, we’ve completed our implementation of the 802.11mc standard, adding an API to obtain location information of each AP being ranged, configured by their owner during installation.

Audio playback capture

You saw how Live Caption can take audio from any app and instantly turn it into on-screen captions. It’s a seamless experience that shows how powerful it can be for one app to share its audio stream with another. In Android Q, any app that plays audio can let other apps capture its audio stream using a new API. In addition to enabling captioning and subtitles, the API lets you support popular use-cases like live-streaming games, all without latency impact on the source app or game.

We’ve designed this new capability with privacy and copyright protection in mind, so the ability for an app to capture another app’s audio is constrained, giving apps full control over whether their audio streams can be captured. Read more here.

Dynamic depth for photos

Apps can now request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support. Requesting a JPEG + Dynamic Depth image makes it possible for you to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app. You can even use the data to create 3D images or support AR photography use-cases. Dynamic Depth is an open format for the ecosystem — the latest version of the spec is here. We’re working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later.



With Dynamic Depth image you can offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app

New audio and video codecs

Android Q adds support for the open source video codec AV1, which allows media providers to stream high quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. In addition, Android Q supports audio encoding using Opus – a codec optimized for speech and music streaming, and HDR10+ for high dynamic range video on devices that support it. The MediaCodecInfo API introduces an easier way to determine the video rendering capabilities of an Android device. For any given codec, you can obtain a list of supported sizes and frame rates.

Vulkan 1.1 and ANGLE

We’re continuing to expand the impact of Vulkan on Android, our implementation of the low-overhead, cross-platform API for high-performance 3D graphics. We’re working together with our device manufacturer partners to make Vulkan 1.1 a requirement on all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher, and a recommendation for all 32-bit devices. For game and graphics developers using OpenGL, we’re also working towards a standard, updateable OpenGL driver for all devices built on Vulkan. In Android Q we’re adding experimental support for ANGLE on top of Vulkan on Android devices. See the docs for details.

Neural Networks API 1.2

In NNAPI 1.2 we’ve added 60 new ops including ARGMAX, ARGMIN, quantized LSTM, alongside a range of performance optimisations. This lays the foundation for accelerating a much greater range of models — such as those for object detection and image segmentation. We are working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.2.

Thermal API

When devices get too warm, they may throttle the CPU and/or GPU, and this can affect apps and games in unexpected ways. Now in Android Q, apps and games can use a thermal API to monitor changes on the device and take action to help restore normal temperature. For example, streaming apps can reduce resolution/bit rate or network traffic, a camera app could disable flash or intensive image enhancement, or a game could reduce frame rate or polygon tesselation. Read more here.

ART optimizations

Android Q introduces several improvements to the ART runtime to help your apps start faster, consume less memory, and run smoother — without requiring any work from you. To help with initial app startup, Google Play is now delivering cloud-based profiles along with APKs. These are anonymized, aggregate ART profiles that let ART pre-compile parts of your app even before it’s run. Cloud-based profiles benefit all apps and they’re already available to devices running Android P and higher.

We’re also adding Generational Garbage Collection to ART’s Concurrent Copying (CC) Garbage Collector. Generational CC collects young-generation objects separately, incurring much lower cost as compared to full-heap GC. It makes garbage collection more efficient in terms of time and CPU, reduces jank, and helps apps run better on lower-end devices.

More Android Q Beta devices, more Treble momentum than ever

In 2017 we launched Project Treble as part of Android Oreo, with a goal of accelerating OS updates. Treble provides a consistent, testable interface between Android and the underlying device code from device makers and silicon manufacturers, which makes porting a new OS version much simpler and more modular.

In 2018 we worked closely with our partners to bring the first OS updates to their Treble devices. The result: last year at Google I/O we had 8 devices from 7 partners joining our Android P Beta program, together with our Pixel and Pixel 2 devices. Fast forward to today — we’re seeing updates to Android Pie accelerating strongly, with 2.5 times the footprint compared to Android Oreo’s at the same time last year.

This year with Android Q we’re seeing even more momentum, and we have 23 devices from 13 top global device makers releasing Android Q Beta 3 — including all Pixel devices. We’re also providing Q Beta 3 Generic System Images (GSI), a testing environment for other supported Treble devices. All of these offer the same behaviors, APIs, and features — giving you an incredible variety of devices for testing your apps, and more ways for you to get an early look at Android Q.

You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. Try Android Q Beta on your favorite device today and let us know your feedback!

Explore the new features and APIs

When you’re ready, dive into Android Q and learn about the new features and APIs you can use in your apps. Take a look at the API diff report for an overview of what’s changed in Beta 3, and see the Android Q Beta API reference for details. Visit the Android Q Beta developer site for more resources, including release notes and how to report issues.

To build with Android Q, download the Android Q Beta SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.3 or higher, and follow these instructions to configure your environment. If you want the latest fixes for Android Q related changes, we recommend you use Android Studio 3.5 or higher.

How do I get Beta 3?

It’s easy! Just enroll any Pixel device here to get the update over-the-air. If you’re already enrolled, you’ll receive the update soon, and, no action is needed on your part. Downloadable system images are also available.

You can also get Beta 3 on any of the other devices participating in the Android Q Beta program, from some of our top device maker partners. You can see the full list of supported partner and Pixel devices at android.com/beta. For each device you’ll find specs and links to the manufacturer’s dedicated site for downloads, support, and to report issues.

For even broader testing on supported devices, you can also get Android GSI images, and if you don’t have a device you can test on the Android Emulator — just download the latest emulator system images via the SDK Manager in Android Studio.

As always, your input is critical, so please let us know what you think. You can use our hotlists for filing platform issues (including privacy and behavior changes), app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues. You’ve shared great feedback with us so far and we’re working to integrate as much of it as possible in the next Beta release.

We’re looking forward to seeing your apps on Android Q!