Since foldable smartphones are now a thing, Android 10 is also introducing official support for these new and exciting form factors. It's designed to enable seamless switching between an inner and an outer display, better multitasking on larger screens, and adapting to different screen dimensions.
Android 10 also has 5G support built-in, not that that was a prerequisite for us to see 5G capable smartphones - these already exist and they all run Pie. Yet Android 10 offers developers tools to build apps with faster connectivity use cases in mind, with enhanced AR and gaming experiences.
Like clockwork, not a year goes by without Google triumphantly announcing that it's improving the dire update situation in the Android world. Spoiler alert: while some of its past initiatives in this domain have helped somewhat, the improvements so far have been extremely small. Maybe this time it will be different?
Don't bet your life on it. So now that we got modular Android OS feature updates out of the way (those launched with Pie and someone should tell OEMs about them, perhaps), the next bullet point is obviously security patches. Like with all updates, some third party manufacturers are better at pushing these out in a timely manner than others, but seeing a security patch per month from all OEMs is still a pipe dream.
Enter Google Play system updates, formerly known as Project Mainline. This lets Google (with an OEM's permission, and this is important to keep in mind) update some parts of the underlying OS in the background, like an app update. The updates will come through Google Play, as the name implies, and they will patch some core OS components.
So, in theory, Google could be pushing these to your non-Google phone and it'll get more secure without you having to wait for a full-blown system update from its manufacturer. This should accelerate the delivery of security fixes, privacy enhancements, and consistency improvements across the ecosystem, though by how much remains to be seen.
According to Google, last year's Project Treble resulted in a 2.5x acceleration in the adoption rate of Pie compared to Oreo, but that's Misleading Phrasing 101 because the timely update situation used to be horrendous and now it's graduated to just dire.
With Play system updates, Google says it will be able to deliver fast fixes for critical security bugs, like those relating to media components, which have been modularized (and media-related bugs accounted for 40% recently patched Android vulnerabilities).
This all sounds fine and dandy, but given Google and Android's history around such highly touted improvements to updates, we're still skeptical. Also note that while such updates will happen in the background, you'll still need to reboot your device to see the new improvements after each one.
Every device that will launch running Android 10 will be required to encrypt user data storage up to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) - phones, tablets, TVs, automotive devices even. So far, low-end phones have not had encryption turned on because of the performance cost that their processors simply couldn't handle given the lack of support for hardware acceleration of encryption.
Google now has a solution: it's called Adiantum and it's a new encryption method that runs about five times faster on an old Cortex-A7 CPU than a standard AES compliant method. It can run efficiently without specialized hardware, on anything from a smartwatch to an internet-connected medical device. This should provide a huge security boost to users of cheap smartphones across the world, starting at whatever point affordable low-end handsets running Android 10 will appear on the market.
Storage encryption is only half of the picture, in Android 10 Google is also enabling support for TLS 1.3 by default. This is a major revision of the TLS cryptographic protocol for network communications security, and it's faster, more secure, and more private.