Android Q


Staff member
Haven't had the chance to load this on a test device yet, but going by the release notes, it doesn't seem like there are any particularly interesting new developer-facing features on our end - some new sharing APIs that might allow us to receive shared documents etc in a slightly more fine-grained way, and some internal stuff that might help with performance / smoothness a bit, but nothing to build any major new features around.

However, there is one serious Bad Thing buried in the privacy section of the release notes:
Access to Clipboard Data
Unless your app is the default input method editor (IME) or is the app that currently has focus, your app cannot access clipboard data.
This will make it completely impossible for us to continue offering Clipboard Monitor on Android Q, so assuming this policy doesn't change, that feature will probably be deprecated as of later this year (i.e., we'll still support it on older devices but we won't put any more work into it outside of major bug fixes).

Another one which - thankfully - only affects Android Go devices is this:

Apps running on Android Q (Go edition) devices cannot have the SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW permission. This is because drawing overlay windows uses excessive memory, which is particularly harmful to the performance of low-memory Android devices.

If an app on a Go device sends an intent with the action ACTION_MANAGE_OVERLAY_PERMISSION, the system automatically denies the request, and takes the user to a Settings screen which says that the permission isn't allowed because it slows the device. If an app on a Go device calls Settings.canDrawOverlays(), the method always returns false.
This won't affect most users, but if you're on Android Go with Android Q, you will not be able to use Screen Reader, as it's impossible for us to offer that without overlay permission. (well, in theory we could do it via a notification which opened our app, but I'm not sure if that would be fluid enough to be worth pursuing - something we can consider if we get a lot of angry Android Go users though)

We were actually worrying that they would do something to block Screen Reader entirely, and they still might at some future point (though if they did I expect it would be through a Play restriction rather than OS one - screen readers for the blind need those capabilities too - and so could be circumvented by sideloading a Screen Reader APK from our website), but based on this first beta it seems like that will keep working for at least one more year :)

They've also introduced some annoying restrictions to external storage file access - based on their current trajectories I could imagine that by the time Android R rolls around users will actually have more wide-ranging access to iOS' filesystem than Android's :) - but those will probably only impact users on devices from particularly crappy Chinese OEMs that muck with the system file manager so that you can't get at files easily through that.


Thanks for the heads-up, and reminder in the email newsletter.

I've starred a couple of Google developer bug reports that looked vaguely relevant, but it was oddly difficult to find the right ones - I'm hoping theyll be marked as duplicate and that will redirect me to the main ones...

Edit: Redirected to this one for the overlay issue:
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Staff member
One other Android Q item: Android has its version of Apple's 64-bit apocalypse coming this summer (when Google will no longer allow updates to be submitted to Play unless they include 64-bit ARM code), so just to confirm for anybody worried, we already have most of Pleco working fine in 64-bit (as it's been working fine in 64-bit on iOS for many years now), had just been waiting on updated code from one vendor, and it sounds like we're going to be finally getting that code any day now + will be able to launch a 64-bit update to our beta channel within a few weeks.


This will make it completely impossible for us to continue offering Clipboard Monitor on Android Q, so assuming this policy doesn't change, that feature will probably be deprecated as of later this year
This is quite disappointing! Clipboard monitoring is such a great feature. In comparison, cut and paste is cumbersome and much slower. Having to go back to that is surely a step in the wrong direction, and not just for Pleco users. Where is the best place to lodge a complaint about this planned self-amputation by Google?


Staff member
There was a bit on that in our newsletter:


Nevertheless, it seems clear that Google are moving in the direction of making Android a lot less useful for Pleco customers, so along with warning you all about this, I also wanted to ask that if you care about these changes, please contact Google and let them know that these features – overlaying the screen and monitoring the clipboard in the background – are important to you and that you don’t want them to be taken away in Android Q. Some ways to contact Google: