Why you should migrate to the Android Q Beta program

The beta release of Android Q outperforms previous iterations.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Every so often developers surprise you. Such is the case with the Android Q beta program. It wasn't perfect, but what it did do was fairly important on a number of levels.

Let's start out by discussing the major (unintended) bonus of migrating to the Android Q beta program. It begins with a bit of back story.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

The dreaded flashing

This is my third Pixel 3 phone. The first was returned due to poor call quality. The second was returned because of the dreaded "flashing" issue. That particular issue manifested itself in the screen randomly flashing either white or green, whether the device was in use or not. It became so bad, the phone became unusable. When the third phone arrived, I set it up assuming something would go wrong with it as well. It only took a couple of days before the first flash struck—this one green. I thought, "Why not sign up for the beta program?" After all, the phone was probably going to get sent back anyway, so it wouldn't hurt to at least experience Android 10 before I did so. So, I pointed a browser to the Android Beta program and enrolled my Pixel 3.

That choice was a smart one to make, as the Pixel hasn't flashed one time in the weeks since I signed up (knock on every scrap of nearby wood).

Was the flashing issue a combination of hardware and something within Android 9? That's hard—if not impossible—to say. However, not seeing a single flash since upgrading tells me everything I need to know.

Of course, not everyone has to deal with this particular issue. That being said, how has Android Q been? Let's chat.

Surprisingly stable

Migrating from Android P to Q isn't nearly the upgrade you might expect. The change from O to P was much more drastic. But don't think Android Q isn't without its share of new features—it is just much more subtle (See: What to expect from Android Q) or has yet to arrive (think "Bubbles"). And although not everything is rock solid (it is a beta after all), much of what I experienced has been surprisingly stable.

The Pixel 3 now running Android Q is my daily driver. So far, you'd be hard-pressed to point to anything indicating this device was running a beta release of the operating system. With a few minor exceptions, Android Q Beta 2 is as rock solid as the final release of Pie. That's saying something, as Pie has been one of the strongest Android releases to date. The incremental refinements made between P and Q are quite good. Every design change made in Pie now seems to have solidified into a perfectly logical and well-thought-out choice.

SEE: Android Pie: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

High performance

Q isn't only about stability. In nearly every aspect, the beta release outperforms the previous iteration. From the speed of apps and transitions and to the sharing menu and notifications—everything performs with more expediency and fluidity—even battery life.

That's right. Battery performance far exceeds that of Android Pie. Upon upgrading, I set my display to manual and bumped it up to full brightness (to see how it affected the battery). Even with the screen shining at an eye-squinting level of lumens, the battery lasted longer than it did with Pie (using adaptive brightness). So, if battery life is key for you, Android Q will deliver.

Not quite all the feels

Not everything in the upgrade process gave me a case of the feels. There are certain apps that launch and then immediately crash. Three apps I use frequently in Android P: Firefox, Instagram, and my banking software will not open in Q. However, both Instagram and Firefox offer a beta (Instagram) and nightly (Firefox), and each open and run fine on Q. The banking app, on the other hand? No bueno. Fortunately, I have other devices that run the banking app without issue. Hopefully, this will get ironed out soon (Devs, are you listening?).

The final issue I've experienced is with the camera. Say it isn't so! That's right, the camera the Pixel 3 is so famous for has one glaring issue with Android Q. When you take a photo in portrait mode, the camera can no longer display the results of the rendered image. What it does display is a normal photograph, without the field of depth applied. However, when you view the image in Photos, the field of depth is clearly in effect, so obviously, this is nothing more than an issue with the camera's built-in photo viewer.

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (TechRepublic download)

Conclusion

My experience with Android Q has been, so far, stellar. For a beta release to be this solid is a testament to the effort that Android developers have put into this platform. To be able to use a beta platform as a daily driver speaks volumes. It's not perfect, but it's as close as it can be while still retaining the beta moniker.

If you're on the fence about trying the Android Q beta, I highly recommend giving it a go. It's rock solid, buttery smooth and worthy of being named after any delicious confection that starts with the letter Q.

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