A new version of Android Q is rolling out today, moving us one step closer to a final release. This fifth beta is also the first “release candidate” build of Android Q. Developers can test their apps against Beta 5 and feel confident they’ll work the same way on the final version launching later this summer. While the feature set of Android Q is pretty well fleshed out at this point, there are a few new things in Beta 5.
Google says all developers should implement and test dark mode, gesture navigation, and foldable optimizations. That last point seems awfully optimistic considering Samsung hasn’t even managed to release its folding phone yet.
A big chunk of Google’s efforts in Beta 5 revolve around the revamped gesture navigation. As Google announced at I/O this year, it will do away with the awkward two-button gesture nav that debuted in Pie. Instead, Android will move to an iOS-style gesture bar. This will, however, require some changes to the way Android currently works.
Beta 5 includes the new Assistant shortcut that plays nicely with the gesture nav. Previously, you’d long-press the home button to access Assistant. In Beta 5, you can swipe in diagonally from the lower left or right corner to access Assistant. Google’s new back gesture (swipe in from the sides) looked like it would break navigation drawers in apps, but Google has a new peek behavior in Beta 5 that signals to users when they are interacting with the drawer rather than triggering the back gesture.
Google is also apparently admitting it doesn’t have a good solution for third-party home screen launchers. Features like the multitasking menu are part of the home screen, so they don’t work properly with replacements like Nova or Action Launcher. Users will have to use traditional button navigation with these launchers until Google develops a solution, which will happen in a post-launch update for Android Q.
Android Q Beta runs on all Pixel phones, as well as some third-party devices. Google’s phones are getting OTA updates right now, but it’ll take a few days before other OEMs in the preview program get new builds ready. We’re expecting one more beta to launch in the coming weeks with very minor changes. After that, it’ll be time for the final release. That’s probably also when we’ll find out what Google has decided to name Android Q — its options are a lot more limited than with past letters.