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InfoQ Homepage News Android Q Beta 1 Brings New Privacy Features, Foldable Support, Vulkan Extensions

Android Q Beta 1 Brings New Privacy Features, Foldable Support, Vulkan Extensions

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The next Android version, dubbed Android Q, is now available for developers in beta, bringing new privacy features, system-wide behaviour changes, and new APIs to support foldable devices, Vulkan extensions, and more.

Android Q brings forward the work started with Android Pie, the current official Android version, to restrict non-SDK interfaces that apps can use. Basically, non-SDK interfaces are all those APIs that are not documented as public by Google and that may change at any time, thus breaking compatibility of existing apps. With respect to Android Pie, Android Q restricts a number of interfaces that were allowed and whitelists several others. To be on the safe side of things, developers should identify all non-SDK interfaces that their apps use and either start a migration towards public APIs, or ask for specific non-SDK interfaces to be whitelisted. Additionally, Android Q will not warn users when they are using an app targeting a version of Android older than Android 6.

In regard to privacy, Android Q brings a number of key improvements that could affect existing apps, including:

  • Scoped storage. Android Q introduces several new user permissions concerning access to external storage, media types, and so on. This change affects all apps accessing and sharing files in external storage. Apps can use their own sandbox to store private files or shared collections for media and downloads, such as Photos and Videos, Music, and Downloads.

  • Device location. Users can now opt for sharing their geolocation exclusively with apps running in the foreground. If an app requires accessing the device location while in the background, it should add new permissions android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION and android.permission.ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION.

  • Background activities. If an app running in the background requires the launching of a new activity, it should display a high-priority notification and use a full-screen intent.

  • Hardware identifiers access has been restricted to better safeguard the MAC address, serial number, IMEI, and other sensitive data that could enable user identification.

  • Bluetooth, telephony, and camera permissions. A number of new permissions have been introduced affecting any kind of access to the camera, Wi-Fi, telephony, and Bluetooth.

Finally, Android Q will bring several new interfaces. Those will include new audio and video codecs, such as AV1, Opus, and HDR10+; native MIDI API; Neural Networks API 1.2; and further extensions to Vulkan, the Android 3D graphics engine.

Android Q also brings improvements to the ART runtime to make app launch faster, with an estimated startup time improvement between 10% and 20%, and a reduction in the overall app memory consumption.

There is lot more to learn about Android Q, and so do not miss the original announcement and official documentation for full details, and to enroll to the beta program.

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