With the release of Android Q Beta 5, Google announced that they would be hosting a Reddit AMA, to answer our burning questions about Android Q and almost everything else Android related. That AMA took place this afternoon, with the Android engineering team providing fun and interesting tidbits about, among other things, Android Q and what may be coming with Android R.
In the early releases of the Android Q beta, it was possible, with only a minor Settings change, to enable a handy, built-in screen recording UI. Unfortunately, this screen recorder was short-lived, disappearing in the third beta, outside of a change via ADB.
One redditor asked when we should expect built-in screen recording to return, outside of “super sketchy apps.” To this, the product manager for Android UI, Allen Huang, shared that screen recording is just one part of what we should expect for Android R.
Given Dave’s signed us up for scrollable screenshots AND how often users are taking screenshots – we’re taking a close look at how we can improve the whole screen-[X] experience for R. We certainly think that these types of functions are things that should be core to the operating system.
Dark theme improvements
One of the hottest topics of Android Q has been native dark mode support. Naturally, it came up multiple times throughout today’s Android Q AMA. More specifically, a few redditors asked about Dark Mode being able to be triggered automatically.
One model Google had previously considered for switching to and from dark mode was based on sunset and sunrise time, but this was scrapped due to it requiring fairly accurate location data. Allowing users to set dark mode based on time of day is being considered, but will apparently not be possible in stock Android Q.
Having been asked a question about Play Store policy enforcement, product manager for privacy on Android, Charmaine D’Silva, shared an interesting statistic. You may recall last year that Google made a significant change, restricting permission to Android call and text logs almost exclusively to the primary phone call or texting app on your device. While that change was controversial at the time, D’Silva has shared the upside to that privacy change:
For example, last fall, we introduced the SMS and Call Log policies that limited the types of apps that could request for these permissions. As a result, today, the number of apps with access to this sensitive information has decreased by more than 98%. The vast majority of developers were able to switch to an alternative or eliminate minor functionality.
Open Source Wear OS?
As you may know, Google’s Wear OS, having once been called Android Wear, is based heavily on Android. However, unlike Android, Wear OS is not open source, meaning OEMs and developers are not able to read through the code to gain a deeper understanding of the system or even make changes.
When asked whether Wear OS would ever be open sourced, tech lead manager of the Android Open Source Project, Jeff Bailey, had “nothing new to share at this time.”
Changes to Android’s future development
As you may know, Google has a public bug/issue tracker where users and developers can share issues with Android — and certain other Google products — more or less directly with Google. However, while some issues posted may catch traction with some public attention, many go ignored for months at a time or are rejected in a confusing manner — this was the case for the original request for scrolling screenshots earlier this year.
A concerned redditor brought up the possibility of Google taking issues raised by developers and the public more seriously in the future. Jeff Bailey tackled this question first by pointing out that the issue tracker has high potential to be overwhelmed, as more tech-savvy people become aware of it. But he didn’t close the door on the idea, stating that it’s possible that some teams may work directly with “external” bugs in the future.
Our developers currently work only on internal bugs. There are a few teams that’ve expressed interest in working directly externally, and we’re trying to figure out how to do this.