New versions of Android are usually released in the second half of the year, with the latest stable version - Android 9 Pie - having reached Pixel devices in August last year. The first Android P developer preview was released in March, with the second Android P developer preview, known as Android P Beta, released at Google I/O in May last year and featuring several OEMs in the beta programme. Google is expected to follow a similar timeline for Android Q, but it's still too early to say. Google is expected to release the first Android Q developer preview this month, and showcase the Android Q Beta (developer preview 2) at Google I/O 2019 in May this year. Now, a Google executive has revealed that more brands and smartphones will be on board with the Android Q beta programme, making it available on many more devices. Separately, the Google bug tracker for Android Q Beta has been opened up, and thanks to a date filter on it, it appears the release of the first developer preview will be today.
Historically, Google had limited availability of the early Android beta versions to the Google Pixel series, but last year was the first time that non-Pixel devices were compatible with the beta version. Essential, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, Vivo, and Xiaomi had limited devices that could be used with the beta version, giving developers and advanced users early access to the latest version of Android. This year, according to a developer for Project Treble at Google, more brands will have compatible smartphones on the beta programme.
The information was revealed by Iliyan Malchev, a Google employee who is working on Project Treble. During an episode of the Android Developers Backstage podcast, he revealed that ‘the number is bigger for the upcoming Android release', referring to the number of smartphone makers participating in the Android Q beta programme. This means that many more users will be able to access the earliest versions of Android Q before its full release.
It's worth pointing out that the early beta releases are very unstable, and tend to take away a lot of features in devices that would otherwise work on a stable version of Android. Users should ideally not be side-loading beta software onto primary devices, and the programme is meant for independent app developers to get early access to the upcoming OS version on secondary devices for testing. Of course, we'll have to wait till May this year to definitively know the final list of smartphone makers on board with the Android Q beta programme.
As we mentioned, the Google Issue Tracker for Android Q Beta (OEM) has been opened, and as XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman notes, the link to check for existing bug filters by date created after March 11, tipping the release will be today itself.