You can’t have it right away: Android 10 arrives for the privileged few

After several months of testing, Google’s latest version of Android, Android 10, is finally rolling out.

As has been the case over the years, the new software is available at first to a small subset of users that are privileged to be using Google’s own hardware, its Pixel smartphones.

Android 10 is available for download (either manually or over-the-air) and installation on all generations of Pixel smartphones. While many expected that the widely-leaked Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL would be the devices Google chooses to showcase Android 10, that will have to wait for a few more weeks, at least.

Also joining in the Pixels on this day one hurrah is the indefatigable Essential phone which, for the third year running, is first in line to receive the latest version of Android.

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Android 10’s release marks the first time since Android’s inception, and beyond the initial test builds, that a new version is being released without an American-centred dessert codename to go with it, at least publicly. That practice has all but ended.

Android 10’s features are clustered around three themes Google is exploring with this release.

The advancement of new technologies like 5G and support for new devices like foldables, something that Google has done in past Android releases with things like adopting the fingerprint sensor, virtual reality, password managers etc, is first on the list.

It is followed by a renewed focus by Google on security and privacy, which is not only a theme for Android 10 but an industry-wide rallying call in the wake of sweeping regulations in Europe (GDPR) and endless news of rogue activities targeting the over 2.5 billion devices running on Google’s mobile operating system.

The third theme is a continued focus on the users’ digital wellbeing, something Google started last year with the Android 9 Pie release.

Talking about themes, Android 10 brings with it a system-wide Dark Mode (so, a glorified theme?), smart replies in the notification drop-down thanks to contextual on-device machine learning, full gestures that see the all-too-familiar navigation bar sidestepped in their favour, new audio and video codecs, improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity among other features.

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26 different devices were involved in the Android 10 beta testing exercise which saw over 200,000 users register to give the new Android version a spin and help weed out bugs (as many as over 20,000 of them) as well as optimize experiences for everyone who gets to use it from today going forward. While that is so, beyond the Pixel smartphones and the Essential PH-1, it is not yet clear when the Android 10 update will be made available to most of the devices that took part in the beta.

We have heard from device makers like Huawei and HMD Global (Nokia) (and have a rough idea of what Xiaomi will be up to) about their Android 10 update plans but it’s still anyone’s gamble whether devices like the Tecno Spark 3 Pro will be getting Android 10 over the next few days as has been the case previously for devices involved in such exercises. According to Google, “Android 10 will be available on more devices than any other previous release.”

Will your Android device be getting Android 10?

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com