Android 11

Google releases Android 11 developer preview

Google has released the first Developer Preview of Android 11, a month earlier than normally scheduled.

Google says that with Android 11 the company are keeping their focus on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while continuing to keep privacy and security a top priority.

Android 11 brings multiple new features to help users manage access to sensitive data and files, with hardened critical areas of the platform to keep the OS resilient and secure.

For developers, Android 11 has a ton of new capabilities for your apps, like enhancements for foldables and 5G, call-screening APIs, new media and camera capabilities, machine learning, and more.

It should be stressed that this is a developer-focused version of the software. To test it, you’ll need to manually flash a full system image onto your Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a/3a XL, or Pixel 4/4 XL. Ironically, none of these phones support 5G but Google is obviously preparing for global rollout.

Today’s release is an early baseline build for developers only and not intended for daily or consumer use, so we’re making it available by manual download and flash only. Remember, getting early input from you is crucial in helping us evolve the platform to meet your needs.” Google stated.

Android 11 brings a handful of system-level changes, including improvements for 5G connectivity, foldable screens, low-latency video decoding, support for SHAKEN/STIR call screen authentication, and a new Google’s neural networks API.

Dynamic meteredness API – with this API you can check whether the connection is unmetered, and if so, offer higher resolution or quality that may use more data. We’ve extended the API has been extended to include cellular networks, so that you can identify users whose carriers are offering truly unmetered data while connected to the carrier’s 5G network.

Bandwidth estimator API – Google has updated this API for 5G to make it easier to check the downstream/upstream bandwidth, without needing to poll the network or compute your own estimate. If the modem doesn’t provide support, we make a default estimation based on the current connection.

With the launch of bezel-less phones, folding phones and other innovative form factors, Google has extended support for these in the platform, with APIs to let you optimize your apps.

Pinhole and waterfall screens – Apps can manage pinhole screens and waterfall screens using the existing display cutout APIs. If you want, a new API lets your app use the entire waterfall screen including the edges, with insets to help you manage interaction near the edges.

People and conversations

Communicating with your friends and colleagues is the most important thing many people do on their phones. In Android 11, Google are introducing changes that help developers create deeper conversational experiences, a few of which you’ll see early versions of in DP1:

  • Dedicated conversations section in the notification shade – users can instantly find their ongoing conversations with people in their favorite apps.
  • Bubbles – Bubbles are a way to keep conversations in view and accessible while multi-tasking on their phones. Messaging and chat apps should use the Bubbles API on notifications to enable this in Android 11.
  • Insert images into notification replies – if your app supports image copy/paste, you can now let users insert assets directly into notification inline replies to enable richer communication as well as in the app itself. As part of DP1 – you’ll see image copy support in Chrome and image paste support via Gboard clipboard.

Real-time, bilateral communication apps should use the sharing/conversation shortcuts API to provide People targets that Android will surface throughout the phone as well as Bubble APIs to allow users to carry on conversations while using the device in other capacities.

Neural Networks API 1.3

Neural Networks API (NNAPI) is designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on Android devices. In Android 11, Google are expanding the operations and controls available to developers. In this release, they’ve added new operations and execution controls to help optimize common use cases:

  • Quality of Service APIs support priority and timeout for model execution.
  • Memory Domain APIs reduce memory copying and transformation for consecutive model execution.
  • Expanded quantization support, we’ve added signed integer asymmetric quantization where signed integers are used in place of float numbers to enable smaller models and faster inference.

Watch for more coming in later preview updates. We’re working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.3.

Security

In the realm of security, Google has beefed up Project Mainline. That’s a feature that debuted in Android 10, giving Google the ability to push important system component updates directly to devices via the Play Store without waiting on OEMs and carriers to create full system OTAs.

In Android 11, Mainline has 12 new modules for a total of 20. That means more vital updates will hit your device silently and on time. 

Get started with Android 11

The Developer Preview has everything you need to try the Android 11 features, test your apps, and provide feedback. To get started, download and flash a device system image to a Pixel 2 / 2 XLPixel 3 / 3 XLPixel 3a / 3a XL, or Pixel 4 / 4 XL device.

Additionally, you can set up the Android Emulator through Android Studio. The Android Emulator running Android 11 system images includes experimental support to run ARM 32-bit & 64-bit binary app code directly on 64-bit x86 Android Emulator system images. Lastly, for broader testing, GSI images are also available.

Next, update your Android Studio environment with the Android 11 Preview SDK and tools – you can do this from inside Android Studio. To take advantage of the latest Android Studio features, we recommend installing the latest version of Android Studio from the canary channel.

Android 11 Timeline

Google also shared the schedule it expects to use to release Android 11 preview updates. We’ll continue to see developer preview released through April, with the first wider-release beta (likely the public beta with support from hardware partners) in May.

Google is introducing a milestone called “Platform Stability” to help you plan your final testing and releases. This milestone means that Android 11 has reached final internal and external APIs, final app-facing behaviors, and final non-SDK graylists.

Android 11 is expected to reach Platform Stability at Beta 2 in June 2020. From that point, you can expect no further changes affecting your apps.

Timeline Build Type Developer actions
FebruaryDeveloper Preview 1Early baseline build focused on developer feedback, with new features, APIs, and behavior changes.Priority window for feedback on APIs. Explore new APIs and behavior changes and report any critical issues or requests to us during this time.
MarchDeveloper Preview 2Incremental update with additional features, APIs, and behavior changes.Give us feedback as you work with APIs and behavior changes. Begin early app compatibility testing.
AprilDeveloper Preview 3Incremental update for stability and performance.Get apps ready for consumers Beta. Continue compatibility testing, publish updates without changing targeting. Notify SDK and library developers of any issues.
MayBeta 1Initial beta-quality release, over-the-air update to early adopters who enroll in Android Beta.Continue compatibility testing, watch for feedback from Android Beta users. Start early testing with targeting Android 11.
JuneBeta 2Platform Stability milestone. Final APIs and behaviors. Play publishing opens.Start final compatibility testing for apps, SDKs, and libraries. Release compatible versions. Continue work to target Android 11.
Q3Beta 3Release candidate build.Release compatible updates for apps, SDKs, and libraries. Continue work to target Android 11. Build with new features and APIs.
Q3Final releaseAndroid 11 release to AOSP and ecosystem.Release compatible updates for apps, SDKs, and libraries. Continue work to target Android 11. Build with new features and APIs.

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