Android 11

Android 11 Beta is now available for Pixel Devices

Google just released the Android 11 Beta program to Pixel devices. This is the easiest way to try out Google’s newest version of Android in a much more stable scenario compared to the 4 different developer previews we have been testing.

Supported devices include the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4.

To make communication easier and simpler on your phone, Android 11 will move all of your conversations across multiple messaging apps to a dedicated space in the notification section. This makes it easy to see, respond to and manage your conversations all in one place. You can mark a conversation as priority to give it preference so you never miss an important message. These key conversations show up on your always-on display and can even “break through” a Do Not Disturb setting. 

Android 11 also introduces Bubbles, a new feature to help you respond and engage with important conversations without switching back and forth between your current task and the messaging app. You can open a bubble for your conversation right from the notification and multitask without missing a thing.   

In addition, when you type using Gboard in Android 11, you’ll get relevant and automatic suggestions for emoji and text. 

Android 11: Connecting Devices

Android 11 makes it easier to manage all of your connected devices.  You can now quickly access and control your smart devices in one place by long pressing on the power button. Adjusting the temperature, turning on the lights or unlocking the front door can now be done with a tap without opening multiple apps. 

Your device controls will show up alongside other things you need at the ready, like your payment methods or your boarding pass (when we’re flying again).

Google are also introducing new media controls in Android 11, making it quick and convenient to switch the device your audio or video content is playing on. It is now easier to bring your music with you from your headphones, to speakers, or even to your TV. 

Android 11: More privacy improvements

Android 11 has even more granular controls for the most sensitive permissions. With one-time permissions you can grant apps access to your microphone, camera or location, just that one time. The next time the app needs access to these sensors, it will have to ask you for permission again.

In addition, if you haven’t used an app for an extended period of time, Android 11 will “auto-reset” all of the permissions associated with that app and notify you of the same. You can always choose to re-grant the app permissions the next time you open the app

Android 11: Developers

People

Google are making Android more people-centric and expressive.

  • Conversation notifications appear in a dedicated section at the top of the shade, with a people-forward design and conversation specific actions, such as opening the conversation as a bubble, creating a conversation shortcut on the home screen, or setting a reminder.
  • Bubbles help users to keep conversations in view and accessible while multitasking. Messaging and chat apps should use the Bubbles API on notifications to enable this in Android 11.
  • Consolidated keyboard suggestions let Autofill apps and Input Method Editors (IMEs) securely offer context-specific entities and strings directly in an IME’s suggestion strip, where they are most convenient for users.
  • Voice Access, for people who control their phone entirely by voice,now includes an on-device visual cortex that understands screen content and context, and generates labels and access points for accessibility commands.

Controls

Android 11 can now help you can quickly get to all of your smart devices and control them in one space:

  • Device Controls make it faster and easier than ever for users to access and control their connected devices. Now, by simply long pressing the power button, they’re able to bring up device controls instantly, and in one place. Apps can use a new API to appear in the controls.
  • Media Controls make it quick and convenient for users to switch the output device for their audio or video content, whether it be headphones, speakers or even their TV. You can enable this today from Developer Options, and it will be on by default in an upcoming Beta release

Privacy

In Android 11, Google are giving users even more control over sensitive permissions and working to keep devices more secure through faster updates.

  • One-time permission lets users give an app access to the device microphone, camera, or location, just that one time. The app can request permissions again the next time the app is used. 
  • Permissions auto-reset: if users haven’t used an app for an extended period of time, Android 11 will “auto-reset” all of the runtime permissions associated with the app and notify the user. The app can request the permissions again the next time the app is used. 
  • Background location: In February, Google announced developers will need to get approval to access background location in their app to prevent misuse. Developers are getting more time to make changes and Google won’t be enforcing the policy for existing apps until 2021. 
  • Google Play System Updates, launched last year, expedites updates of core OS components to devices in the Android ecosystem. In Android 11, Google has more than doubled the number of updatable modules, and those 12 new modules will help improve privacy, security, and consistency for users and developers.

Developer friendliness

Google want to make it easy for developers to take advantage of the new release, so to make compat testing easier, they’ve:

  • Gated most breaking changes until you target Android 11 (so they won’t take effect until you explicitly change your manifest)
  • Added new UI in developer options to let you toggle many of these changes for testing
  • Added a new Platform Stability release milestone where all API and behavior changes will be complete, so you can finalize your app updates knowing the platform is stable.

Android 11 also includes a number of other developer productivity improvements like wireless ADB debugging, ADB incremental for faster installs of large APKs, and more nullability annotations on platform APIs (to catch issues at build time instead of runtime), and more.

To learn about all of the developer features in Android 11, visit the Android 11 developer site.

Android 11 Beta

Sign-up for the Android 11 Beta is as easy as it was on all other betas. You head over to the Android Beta site, look for your supported device, tap on that device and enroll it. Once you enroll, it shouldn’t take long before you’ll be prompted with a software update that brings the beta build. If you don’t see it, you can always head into Settings>System>Advanced>System update

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