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Now that 5G cellular networks are popping up across North America, Asia, and Europe, device makers are working to add proper 5G support to smartphones and hotspots — a process Qualcomm has facilitated on the hardware side with the Snapdragon 855 platform. Today, the chipmaker announced its collaboration with Google to enhance Android Q’s developer APIs for 5G, a process the companies say will enable faster access to cloud services, real-time video collaboration, multiplayer cloud gaming, and AR for shopping and navigation.

“5G is here with networks and devices launching across the globe in 2019,” explained Qualcomm VP Francesco Grilli, “and now it’s time for application developers to bring 5G to life by reimagining what is possible with 5G multi-gigabit connectivity and blazing-fast responsiveness.”

One of the key developer-side changes in Android Q is enhanced access to network performance information, including data on estimated 5G throughput. The companies expect apps will use this information to enhance video and audio quality for 5G users, as well as app and game responsiveness given the lower latency of 5G connections.

Early 5G networks are already promising peak download speeds in the 1Gbps to 2Gbps range, depending on the carrier, though typical performance is commonly closer to 500Mbps. Even so, that’s 10 to 20 times faster than average U.S. 4G speeds, accompanied by improvements in server response times. While some of the improvements will be felt instantly by users of 5G Android devices, others will either require or benefit dramatically from app optimizations.


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“Android is the platform for innovation,” said Google VP Bob Borchers, “proven by the speed with which it is able to embrace technological advances like 5G. We’re excited to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies at Google I/O to support developers and the larger ecosystem in unlocking 5G’s full potential.”

Android Q launched in beta form in March, and has subsequently added additional tweaks including support for foldable devices. The smartphone and tablet operating system is just one of many projects Google is addressing at I/O today. Developers interested in implementing 5G network awareness in their applications can visit the Android site for information on Connectivity Manager.

In addition to the Android Q tweaks, Qualcomm will participate in a 5G session and workshop at Google I/O, providing live 5G demos alongside information on enabling 5G, including the use of updated APIs and tools. The Thinking in 5G Workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pacific on Thursday, May 9 at The Garage in Mountain View, California. Sprint said today that it will be showing off LG’s V50 ThinQ on its dual-connectivity 2.5GHz 4G and 5G networks there.

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