It’s amazing that we’ve already reached the fourth iteration of the Android Q Beta program. Beta 4 is now here and it brings with it a ton of updates, improvements and overall feature enhancements to really whet the appetite ahead of the next release.
As we say time and time again, this is a beta, so it’s really more focused on developers and ironing out any compatibility issues. That said, the fourth beta is much more stable than previous versions in many regards. It also doesn’t mean there are no solid additions or reasons to give it a try, we just don’t suggest that you install Q Beta 4 on your main device unless you are prepared for potential issues and compatibility problems.
Given we are only expecting two more developer betas before the full-fat, full-flavor release of Android Q, there isn’t a ton of major additions. But there are some notable tweaks that make a real difference to what has been a solid Q beta series so far.
Reports of the OTA causing some bootlooping issues might also be a reason for some to be cautious when enrolling on the Android Q Beta path too — so you can’t say we haven’t warned you!
So despite our warnings, here are some of the top 10 new features of Android Q Beta 4.
New system theme accents
We saw that Q Beta 3 finally added a native Dark theme and Beta 2 added theming elements, well now we have even more system theme accent options.
This latest update has added a few new color options for the little accents you see within the status bar, menus and notification drawer of all areas of Q Beta 4. They include Space, Cinnamon, Ocean and Orchid. All work in the standard and Dark themes too — which is lovely.
Notifications can be swiped away from both directions
We saw that notifications within the notification shade added a contextual swipe left or right for extended controls and settings in a previous Q beta. That meant that you could only swipe away notifications in one pre-determined direction.
Gone are these constraints, you can now return to swiping left or right to dismiss any notification you’ve got sat there waiting to be dealt with.
Contextual rotate button for gesture nav returns
The much-loved contextual rotate button has returned in Android Q Beta 4. It actually is quite a sad fact that this is even considered a ‘feature’ but regardless, it’s still great to see Google add the feature back into the OS wholesale.
Turn your device from portrait to landscape and get a little navbar icon to jog your memory. Superb.
Digital Wellbeing app timers
I’m not much of a user of Digital Wellbeing in general but should you use the feature to limit your usage of certain applications, you’ll be pretty pleased by this new addition.
When using the app switcher, should you have placed a limit on your usage of any application, it will show you the remaining time you have before you are locked out of an application. It appears at the bottom of each multi-tasking card for easy access and even better personal time management.
Share menu improvements
The sharing menu on Android was already pretty good but Google has seriously stepped up how we can send and share content and more. You’re now met with up to eight direct share targets when you access the share menu for even easier quick sending to apps or contacts.
The copy link menu is still there too, something I’ve been using a great deal while running Q Beta 3, so it’s nice that it remains.
Notifications have been a point of focus for Google in Android Q, and Beta 4 gives the settings interface an overhaul. Now, Android’s notification settings are not only more clearly organized, but there are also some new features for “Adaptive Notifications.”
There is a brand new design for this within the notification shade, there is even greater controls added to help you manage each and every notification ‘level’ too.
Notification bubbles themselves are not new, you just had to use adb to enable the feature on the previous Q Beta build. Not such limitation now, as you can add the feature right from your device settings.
They work exactly the same as Facebook chat heads, appearing on screen as a movable little bubble that can be dismissed or opened from anywhere along the edge of your display.
New back swipe animation
This might seem like a little thing in the broader context of the Q Beta 4 update, but as far as features you’ll notice go, the new back swipe animation helps with the feeling of ‘smoothness;’ with the new Android Q gesture navigation.
Always-on Display tweaks
The Always-on Display has had a few notable tweaks that change the layout of currently playing music and then a couple minor additions that round the feature out a bit better on Q Beta 4.
There is no room for the date — which is a shame — but the layout now includes the current weather and temperature. Not only that, the clock now has a bolder look for easy visibility. When playing music the music app icon has been moved next to the artist rather than next to the song title.
Pixel 3a support
Although you can definitely argue that this isn’t technically a feature, anyone with the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL can now enjoy the Q Beta 4 build as the devices officially support the developer previews! It’s as easy as heading to the Android Beta page and opting in — you’ll then get an OTA download notification to get started.
As per usual, if you have had already installed the Android Q Beta 4 update, what are your favorite additions and features? What are your expectations for Beta 5? Let us know in the comments section below.