Android 10 officially rolls out

Google has started pushing the Android 10 stable update to its Pixel smartphone. In addition, the Essential Phone and Redmi K20 Pro are the other non-Google devices receiving the Android 10 update.

With almost 50 changes related to privacy and security, Android 10 gives you greater protection, transparency, and control over your data.

The back button is officially gone. Android 10 now features a fully gesture-based method of navigation. Swiping up goes home, a swipe up and hold reveals the multitasking menu, and a swipe from the left or right edge of your screen goes back.

In addition to the new gesture navigation, Android 10 also allows you to switch back to Android Pie’s two-button system and the traditional three-button array.

Smart Reply now suggests actions. So when someone sends you a message with an address or a YouTube video, you can open and navigate in Google Maps or open up the video in YouTube—no copying and pasting required. And Smart Reply now works across all your favorite messaging apps.

Come to the dark side… with Dark Theme. You can enable Dark Theme for your entire phone or for specific apps like Photos and Calendar. It’s easier on your eyes, and your phone battery too. Google has also created a new API that developers can use to have their apps go to a dark theme as well when the system-wide one is turned on.

To help reduce notification overload, Android now has the choice of: general alerts as they always have been, which make a sound or vibration; silent alerts, which do not make a sound and are held in a cluster out of the way at the bottom of the notification shade; or no notification, which blocks an app from showing particular types of notifications or all notifications if you do not want to be bothered by them.

Silent notifications are useful for things such apps for accessories that you have attached to your phone requiring persistent notifications to work (sports watches are a good example) or mundane but useful things such as the weather.

With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption videos, podcasts and audio messages across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Live Caption will become available this fall, starting with Pixel.

Google is making great strides to give users greater control over the data they share with apps on their phone, catching up with many of the protections Apple employs in iOS. Android 10 introduces a raft of new controls including the ability to share your location information with an app only when you are using it.

Android will also remind you that an app you do not use is accessing your location so you can stop it if you wish.

Privacy controls including an app permission manager, personalised ads, location history and Google account activity are now more easily accessible in the settings menu too, so it’s more straightforward to see what kinds of data is being collected and stop it.

With Google Play system updates, important security and privacy fixes can now be sent to your phone from Google Play, in the same way your apps update.

So you get these fixes as soon as they’re available, without having to wait for a full OS update.

You have greater control over where and when notifications will alert you. Mark notifications as “Silent” and they won’t make noise or appear on your lock-screen, so you’re only alerted by notifications when you want to be.

Google is beefing up parental controls on Android using its Family Link feature, which will now be built into the Digital Wellbeing settings app on Android 10. Parents can set up a new phone or device for their child, link it to their account and take control over screen time limits, app installs, track their child’s usage and set a things like a bedtime when the phone shuts off.

Focus mode, which temporarily silences specific apps you find distracting, is available in beta with a full roll-out expected this year. Live Caption, which uses on-device machine learning to put real-time captions on videos, podcasts, audio messages and recordings in any app, will also roll out in the autumn, on Google’s Pixel devices at first.

Android 10 includes a large collection of new emoji including gender-inclusive designs, such as gender non-specific representations of professions with the option of specifying male or female models if you’d like.

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