De nieuwe Android-update van Google is een teken dat de enorm populaire smartphonesoftware 'opgroeit', zegt een bedrijfsleider die er al is sinds het begin (GOOG, GOOGLE)

De nieuwe Android-update van Google is een teken dat de enorm populaire smartphonesoftware 'opgroeit', zegt een bedrijfsleider die er al is sinds het begin (GOOG, GOOGLE)

september 5, 2019 0 Door admin

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  • Android 10, Google’s newest mobile software, is launching for the company’s Pixel devices on Tuesday.
  • The new update will introduce features focused on privacy and accessibility, among other changes.
  • It’s also the first version of Android in a decade that won’t be nicknamed after a dessert.
  • Business Insider spoke with Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android, about the update to coincide with its launch.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google’s new Android update just launched for Pixel devices on Tuesday, but the company is already hard at work on what’s next, according to Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android.

“I spent the last two days working with the team on our plans for Android 11,” Burke said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “So for us, it’s just we’re on this continual drive to make the product better.”

Android 10 brings many new features to devices running Google’s popular Android operating system, which powers more than 86% of smartphones around the world. The update introduces a much-requested dark theme, new accessibility features, more privacy controls, and new navigation gestures, among many other changes. It will also introduce support for forward-looking technologies that are expected to play an important role in the way our smartphones work in the future, like optimizations for 5G connectivity and foldable phone form factors.

Read more: Here are the biggest differences between Samsung’s brand-new Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy S10

Google decision to incorporate technologies like 5G and foldable phones – which are barely if at all present in the market today – says a lot about its approach to Android. Burke used the phrase “continual improvement” several times during our conversation, emphasizing the company’s strategy of gradually evolving the software over time. That’s why Google is already beginning to discuss Android 11 even though Android 10 only just launched for the company’s Pixel phones this week.

‘Sometimes you can be a little too open’

Google Pixel 3a XL

Foto: sourceHollis Johnson/Business Insider

That notion of “continual improvement” is part of why privacy is such a big theme in Android 10: the software comes with almost 50 new features focused on privacy and security. One such addition makes it possible for a user to decide to only share location data with apps while they’re being used, a feature that Apple’s iPhones have already offered for a while. The software will also remind users when an app is tracking their location in the background.

It’s certainly a welcome improvement from the currently available privacy options, which are more important now than ever before as Google’s data collection and privacy practices have come under increased scrutiny. But it also begs the question as to why Google waited so long to add more comprehensive privacy controls to Android in the first place.

According to Burke, Android was originally built with flexibility in mind, giving both device owners and app developers the freedom to create new services and customize the phone’s software as they see fit. Now, the company is filling in some of the gaps in privacy that come with that flexibility.

“And I think what we’ve learned over the 10 or 11 years is that sometimes you can be a little too open, right?” Burke said. “And so I think we’re just course correcting that a little bit.”

Burke says we can continue to expect more privacy enhancements in the next major version of Android too.

“We’re going to keep working on this,” he said. “This is a multi-year thing. I think we did a ton in Android 10 and in Android 11 we’ll do some more as well in this area of privacy.”

Read more: A professional hacker reveals the top security mistake people make online – and it’s something you probably do everyday

Making Android smartphones more accessible to those living with disabilities is also a key theme of Android 10. The new software will include native support for hearing aids, which makes it possible for Android devices to seamlessly connect to hearing aids without consuming too much of your phone’s battery or requiring additional software.

One of the headlining features it showcased during its Google I/O conference in May is an addition called Live Caption, which uses on-device machine learning to caption any media playing on your phone, whether it be from a podcast, video, or messaging app. Since it uses on-device technology, the captions are processed on your phone and aren’t sent to remote servers. “We pipe the audio from the phone directly into an on-device speech recognizer,” Burke said when explaining how the feature works. “And then in real time we can live caption anything.”

As has been the case with previous Android releases, Android 10 also brings some user interface improvements. With the increasing popularity of smartphone designs with edge-to-edge screens as the industry moves away from physical buttons, Google is introducing a standardized approach to navigating with swipes and gestures rather than on-screen keys. But if you’re concerned about Android 10 forcing you to re-learn how to use your smartphone, don’t worry: those familiar three buttons for navigating back, home, and viewing recent apps that have been a mainstay on Android will continue to be an option.

“At the start of this year, we sat down with a lot of our device maker partners and realized that pretty much all of them were implementing gesture navigation in one way or another,” said Burke. “And they were all doing it slightly different … And that would’ve been bad not just for application developers because they would have to adapt to different devices, but also to users and customers who are moving between different Android devices.”

Android grows up

Android Oreo

Foto: sourceKyodo News via Getty Images

There is, however, one characteristic that makes Android 10 different than its predecessors. It’s the first software version in a decade that isn’t nicknamed after a dessert, marking a notable shift in the company’s branding.

That treat-themed naming convention stemmed from the daily meeting that the Android team holds to discuss the state of the software and how the team is progressing on current projects. Ryan PC Gibson, director of technical program management at Google, was the first person to lead these meetings – and it was his idea to nickname Android software versions after desserts. “We kind of joke about how in the early days you were kind of stress eating desserts,” Burke said. “And so there was sort of a connection to that.”

Google decided to abandon its dessert-inspired nicknames to make the releases more clear and easier to understand around the world.

“I think maybe the moving to numbers and the rebranding is just sort of showing a growing up of Android,” said Burke. “And realizing how globally important it is,” said Burke.

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