We are rapidly nearing the launch day for Android Q, Google’s 29th release of Android. Firstly, we have to witness the sixth-and-final beta release out the door. Android Q Beta 6 is rolling out to Pixel phones now and participating third-party devices in the upcoming weeks.
Final APIs for the creators were locked down in Beta 4, so Beta 5 and 6 are mostly about squishing bugs and polishing up the final interface. Completely gestural navigation is a huge feature of Android Q, and with the Beta 5 launch came the declaration that gesture navigation would not work with third-party home apps at launch, presumably due to a lack of time to work out the pile of bugs that have been reported.
Even with third-party home screen compatibility off the table, it appears like Google will be working on gesture navigation down to the wire. Beta 5 came up with a brand-new gesture for the Google Assistant and new protocols for developers. In Beta 6, Google says it has made further improvisations to Gesture Navigation in Beta 6 based on user feedback and now has a sensitivity setting for the back gesture. The back gesture includes swiping in from the screen edge, which can interfere with apps that require horizontal scrolling. Newly updated apps are supposed to design around the new back gesture; the sensitivity setting should help pick a balance for older apps with conflicting swipe areas.
Across the Android ecosystem, there are presently a million gesture systems out there thanks to OEM skins, however, Google revealed at I/O that it will standardize Android navigation around Google’s Android Q implementation. Every third-party device will have to exclusively use Google’s version of gesture navigation as part of Android compatibility (though there will be a choice for the old three-button navigation system). With no other choices for gesture navigation allowed, Google needs to get this right.
Google promises to provide more information on the official Android Q release. The official schedule puts the final release sometime in Q3, and beta releases have been coming every month. Last year, for Android P, the final version came out 12 days after the last beta.