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Unlike previous years, the second preview of the next major Android version is coming before Google I/O. Android Q Beta 2 is available a month earlier in April as an “incremental update” for all Pixel phones. Beta 2 is still only intended for “early test and development” environments.

Following the first developer preview in March, Google for the past two years has waited till I/O to launch the next update. At the conference, the release gets a stability upgrade from alpha to beta status and a public test program. Of course, Android Q in 2019 was already in beta from the get-go.

As we enabled last month, Android Q Beta 2 introduces Bubbles as a new way to multitask. These are essentially chat heads that third-party apps have pioneered for several years now. Google is now adding it directly into the platform in a “consistent” manner that safeguards user privacy and reduces development time.

Bubbles are a new feature in Android Q. With bubbles users can easily multi-task from anywhere on their device. Bubbles are built into the Notification system. They float on top of other app content and follow the user wherever they go. Bubbles can be expanded to reveal app functionality and information, and can be collapsed when not being used.

The Android Q emulator now allows developers to build apps for foldable devices. There are also platform-side changes to “onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus.”

A new MicrophoneDirection API allows apps to specify a preferred direction of the microphone when taking an audio recording.

For example, when the user is taking a “selfie” video, you can request the front-facing microphone for audio recording (if it exists) by calling setMicrophoneDirection(MIC_DIRECTION_FRONT).

The new privacy features introduced in Q are available for testing and feedback in Beta 2, including Scoped Storage.

Here’s everything new in Android Q Beta 2 [Gallery]

Beta 2 is build QPP2.190228.021 and includes the April security patch. Users can submit bugs through the Android Beta Feedback app, the Reddit community, and the issue tracker. Four more releases are scheduled before the public launch in Q3 2019.

Android Q Beta 2 system images are available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, and Pixel 3 XL. Users can also install as an OTA by manual download or the Android Beta program.

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