In Depth

Android 10: new features, compatible devices and beta signup

Search giant’s mobile software is now available. Here’s everything you need to know

Google’s eagerly-anticipated Android 10 mobile system launched on a number of handsets earlier this month, bringing with it a new dark mode and improved gesture controls.

The software was introduced as “Android Q” at Google’s I/O event in May, but was rebranded to “Android 10” on the run up to its release on 3 September, says TechRadar. The change also marked the end of Google’s decade-long tradition of naming its software after sweet treats.

The rebrand also includes a new version of the green Android mascot that now incorporates shades of blue, according to AndroidAuthority. The tweak has been introduced as the mascot’s former yellow-green design was difficult for some users with colour blindness to interpret.

Here’s everything else you need to know about the software update:

Release and public beta

Android 10 is available to download now, but only on Google’s own Pixel range, the Essential phone and the OnePlus 7 lineup, says Pocket-lint. Owners of other Android devices will need to wait until later this year or early next year to receive the update. 

Those wanting to get their hands on the software early, however, can download the public beta, which is essentially a demo version of the software that gives developers vast amounts of data to help improve the product.

Android owners can download the trial for free by signing up to Google’s beta programme on its website

What’s new?

Like Apple’s rival software iOS 13, Android 10 will add a new dark mode feature that lets users swap the white backgrounds on some apps and menus to “true black”, says Stuff. The mode isn’t just for looks, either, as it will save battery life on mobiles equipped with OLED displays. 

Another major update comes in the form of improved gesture controls, which now allows users to swipe left or right on the screen to go back, the tech site says, another feature that’s similar to iOS. 

Other additions include a new Focus Mode, which silences apps that prove to be a distraction, as well as support for foldable phones such as the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold, Stuff notes.

Compatible devices

Apart from the Google Pixel lineup, which all received Android 10 on release day, ZDNet lists the current compatible devices as:

  • ASUS ZenFone 5Z 
  • Essential Phone 
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro 
  • LGE G8
  • Nokia 8.1 
  • OnePlus 6T 
  • OPPO Reno 
  • Realme 3 Pro 
  • Sony Xperia XZ3 
  • Tecno Spark 3 Pro 
  • Vivo X27 
  • Vivo NEX S 
  • Vivo NEX A 
  • Xiaomi Mi 9 
  • Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G

Other devices are expected to join the list in the weeks leading up to the software’s release.

Why did Google abandon its dessert-name tradition?

Since its inception in 2008, Google has named its Android operating systems after desserts and sweet treats - rather than use the software version number, as is the case with Apple’s iOS.

But the search giant ends the decade-long naming tradition with its latest software, which is simply called Android 10. 

Sameer Samat, head of product management at Android, said in a blogpost that naming the software after sweet treats had “become a fun part of the release each year”, but the names “weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community.”

“For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages”, he said. “So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat.”

“As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world”, Samat added.

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