Google released the first beta of Android Q. It won't give the software its official moment in the spotlight before Google I / O conference in May, of course, but we already know some important information about its direction.
Android Q will tighten up some personal information. You can give apps one-time access to your location. A taxi app will be able to see where you are, without necessarily knowing this information until and only when you want it. Such changes are both important and a deflection in equal parts. Google flicks digital parasites for us to avoid realization, we are gradually becoming the parasites on its own large, large tessellated back.
This is nothing new, but there is another role for Android Q, that is. Google takes folded phones seriously and makes it so early.
The Android standard procedure is to watch, as companies such as Samsung, HTC and Huawei play with new hardware and software features such as children working with science projects. It can ignore the errors and coordinate the obvious successes by creating platform-wide Android APIs, modules that standardize behavior across apps and devices.
Google is often relatively slow to add these. For example, Samsung came up with its own version of split-screen phone apps, the Multi Window, in 2012 with the Galaxy S3. A version of it was only added to standard Android four years later in 2016.
You can call Google slowly if you want, but you can't really call it "wrong". Very few people use the function, even those with Android tablets.
That Android Q jumps into optimization for folding phones before any of the things available to buy have weight. The first two important examples of these are Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X.
These use a layer of software made by their manufacturers that determine how their display (s) behave when opened. Much of this is already in Android, because Android apps have had to fight enough screen sizes and resolutions to give developers a migraine since year 1.
However, Android Q is seeking to normalize these quake shifts so the solutions are devised by Samsung, Huawei and others will not be needed in the future. Changes in the fragments "onresume" and "onpause" and "resizeableActivity" manifest in Q make Android a more inviting place for folding and multi-screen phones.
There are three obvious reasons for such early features. First, not all future manufacturers of folding phones will have the same budget or propensity as Samsung and Huawei are working on a solution that avoids the crucial momentum that seems to be lumpy as the gear shift of a rust-damaged 1991 Ford Sierra. Bad Android phones poorly reflect on Android as a whole. Particularly expensive folding them.
This is also an obvious opportunity for Google to come across Apple in one area. The fact that we are only talking about Apple registering "folding iPhone patents" suggests that hardware that is going to be far away.
And does Google work on its own folding phone? Again, some patents suggest it may be. But by standardizing folding screen behavior, "first party" hardware becomes less important. Google Pixel phones are, in their respects, most interesting, to geeks when displaying the advanced camera processing not seen elsewhere.
Is it in the game?
A welcoming of folding phones also ties into other projects. Google will host an event at GDC, one of the biggest gaming shows on March 19th. It is expected to focus on the future of Project Stream.
Project Stream is a gaming streaming test that was tested at the end of 2018. Members of Public with the fast home internet game Assassin's Creed: Odyssey in the Chrome browser to try it. Just as the rejected OnLive or Microsoft's just announced xCloud, all the brains playing the games are in a computer use somewhere. The device at your end only receives the video signal, which is a lot of data. And sends the controller's interactions, a small amount of data.
Some expect Google to launch a gaming console on GDC, which doesn't necessarily have to be much more than a box, with a version of Android plugging into your TV. It becomes a more interesting technical challenge when this type of service is used in phones, especially the new folding quality that is large enough to play such games without facing major interface scaling problems.
Traditionally, these game services have been more exciting to talk about than use. Layers are their main enemy and layers are present even when used with a fast Wi-Fi connection. Fast games suddenly seem blunt. And Fornite as Netflix calls one of its most important rivals for consumer attention is fast.
The Team Factor
The project stream, or whatever is eventually called, should prove not just one of the best selling points for a foldable phone, but one of the most interesting demos of both 5G and Wi-Fi 6
Such standard connection standards for 2019 are usually discussed with respect to their bandwidth. 5G can download a 4K movie in eight seconds you may have heard. But only pirates and people in airports are desperately trying to download something to watch the plane's download movie.
Latency is undoubtedly the most important factor here. 5G radically reduces waiting time, from 4G's 120ms down to as little as 1ms, theoretically at least. This could eliminate the main issue of gaming streaming that "fucking layers". Wi-Fi 6 also reduces latency.
Who has a data supplement generous enough to cover the kind of data usage required? And won't it take years for 5G to fill cities without dead spots, let alone elsewhere? These are network issues. But the concept of British networks offering bolt-ons specifically for this service is striving enough.
It raises a wider point. Is the idea of an extended phone of seven or eight inches where you can play Assassin's Creed or The Witcher 3 that attracts? Before saying "of course", the image unfolds your phone on the train and strikes it in Google's imitation of an Xbox One gamepad.
Nintendo's Switch is the clear commercial reference point here. It has sold 32 million units and has undoubtedly highlighted the internal presentations of companies working with folding phones desperately to quantify their appeal.
But replication of Nintendo magic is always harder than it appears. The Nintendo Switch is a relatively low-tech system. It has fairly low-powered CPUs and GPUs, a low-resolution display. But bred by ultra-high quality first IP, which any Google plans lack, and an extremely family-friendly ecosystem.
Are folded phones at best becoming the gaming equivalent for PSP and PS Vita? Technical tales for their time, which eventually misunderstands or fails to capture the same appeal as Nintendo's handhelds?
This is a lot to relax from some tweaked elements referenced in an Android Q developer blog. But it's a reason to pay attention to Google's GDC message, if folding phones work for you, rather than tech's latest expensive gimmick.
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