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Android 10 is Official, Hits Pixel devices

Google moved to address concerns over user privacy and data security in Android 10, the latest version of its smartphone operating system which is initially available to owners of the search giant’s Pixel devices.

In a blog, Senior Director of product management for Android,
Stephanie Cuthbertson explained privacy was a “central focus” of Android 10. The platform features “extensive changes” over its predecessors around users’ control of location data sharing, device tracking, and management of files employing external storage.

Android 10 also includes additional security features spanning storage encryption; TLS 1.3, the latest security protocol from the Internet Engineering Taskforce; a so-called “hardening” of a number of security-critical areas of the platform; and updates beefing up biometric capabilities.

Cuthbertson noted the privacy updates are one of several key areas of development in Android 10. Google’s other major focus areas span advanced machine learning, compatibility with 5G and optimisation for foldables.

Digital wellbeing was another key pillar. In a related blog, Android VP of engineering Dave Burke explained users gain “greater control over where and when notifications will alert you”. The platform also features a Family Link function first installed in the previous version of Android, offering parents the ability to limit and review their child’s smartphone use.

A new Focus Mode is designed to simplify the process of muting apps: Burke cited email or news alerts as examples in this regard.

Functionality

Among the other key features of Android 10 are gesture control, which enables users to control the device by swiping rather than using visible buttons. The company also touted a dark mode, which Burke said was “easier on your eyes and your phone battery”, along with a smart reply feature for messaging apps that also simplifies the opening of YouTube or Google Map links.

In the coming weeks, Google plans to add a live caption feature to Android 10-equipped Pixel devices, which will automatically subtitle media content including videos, podcasts and audio messages.

Photography updates enable apps to access depth information to offer specialised blur and bokeh options. The platform also adds compatibility with the AV1 video codec, which Cuthbertson said reduces the bandwidth required to stream “high-quality video content to Android devices”.

On the connectivity side, the executive stated Google had “refactored the Wi-Fi stack to improve privacy and performance”, a change that will also help improve “common use-cases like managing IoT devices”. And apps can “now request adaptive Wi-Fi by enabling high performance and low-latency modes”, which Cuthbertson explained offers user experience benefits spanning real-time gaming and active voice calls among others.

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