Android 11

Android 11 officially released by Google

New privacy controls and a screen-recording tool are among features being added to Android 11

Google has officially rolled out Android 11 and in addition to its own Pixel brand, the following companies will be the first to offer downloads of Android 11: OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo and RealMe. Samsung, Huawei and LG typically take a little longer to adapt new features to their own user interfaces.

A new Android 11 beta build will be available for the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 10 and 10 Pro, the Realme X50 Pro as well as nearly a half-dozen Oppo phones.

Android 11: Top new features

Android 11 is designed to emphasise at what’s important on your phone and how easily you can manage that. Thus, instead of offering a series of interface-level changes, the new operating system brings a list of new features to make it easier for you to manage different things on your phone.

Conversations

Users can now see, respond to and control conversations across multiple messaging apps. All in the same spot. Then select people you always chat with. It is called Conversations.

The new addition makes it easier for you to view any of the important conversations at a glance. You can also prioritise conversations that you don’t want to miss. Further, an option to mute notifications for certain conversations is available to stay focused at your work and don’t get distracted by usual messages.

Bubbles

After Conversations, the second big change that comes through Android 11 is Bubbles. It works just like how Chat Heads work on Facebook Messenger and lets you take a look at your important conversations without leaving the work you’re doing on your phone.

Built-in screen recording

Starting today, you can record content on your device — including audio from your mic, device, or both — without having to install a separate app.

To enable the feature, you may need to first add it to the quick settings menu of your notification shade. On Pixel phones, you can simply open the notifications shade, tap on the pencil icon, and drag and drop the Screen Record button onto your active tiles. Then you can begin recording by tapping the Screen Record button on your phone anytime.

Redesigned media controls

Android 11, of course, doesn’t bring any major interface-level changes. Nevertheless, media controls on the new Android version have been redesigned to make it easier for you to manage your audio playback experience.

You’ll get media controls directly in the Quick Settings area instead of being as a notification. Also, the redesign brings the ability to let you switch from your headphones to a Bluetooth speaker by tapping the audio source on the media controls card in the Quick Settings area.

Updated power menu

Google has also updated the power menu on Android 11 with the ability to let you access all your smart home devices by long pressing the power button.

One-time permissions

Android 11 brings one-time permissions that work similar to how app permissions are available on iOS and let you grant single use access to microphone, camera, and location. This means that the app will ask for your permissions each time when you use it on your phone.

Auto-reset permissions

In addition to one-time permissions, Android 11 lets you auto-reset permissions for your unused apps. This is quite helpful if you don’t want an app to keep accessing your data even when it’s not being used for a long time.

Dark Theme Scheduling

With Android 11, users can now schedule the dark theme using one of two different metrics. You can schedule a dark theme to turn on or off when the sun sets or rises. You can also set up a custom schedule for dark mode activation if you wish.

Google rolled out the sunset/sunrise setting to Pixel phones running Android 10 earlier this year, but Android 11 will bring both that and the timing feature to all.

Exclusive features for Pixel phones

Alongside the features that are coming to all devices, Android 11 has some features that are limited to Pixel phones.

Find your friends with Live View

You can now use Live View with Location Sharing in Google Maps to easily meet up with friends. If your friends have chosen to share their location with you, simply tap on their icon and then on the Live View button on the right side of your screen.

You’ll see where they are in relation to you, along with how far away they are. Tapping on “Start” will then show you arrows and directions placed right on top of your world so you can see exactly which way to go.

Smart Replies in Gboard

The new Smart Reply on your Pixel’s keyboard makes typing effortless by giving you helpful responses when you’re using chat apps. And it’s all processed on your phone to protect your privacy.

Better productivity with Overview Actions

Your Pixel will also give you more convenient ways to select text and images, or take a screenshot with the new overview actions. So whether you’re copying and pasting, saving or sharing the content you want, you’ll have more options over how you select and engage with content on your Pixel. 

Organise your apps with Smart Folders

Now, your Pixel can help organise your phone with new intelligent suggestions for folder names. Quickly group apps by theme, like Photography, News, Navigation, Fitness and more. 

App suggestions at the right time

Now your Pixel can make app suggestions based on your daily routines, so you can quickly get to tools you need, when you need them. Your phone will recommend apps you use at different times of the day, like Messages for your daily check-ins, Google Maps for your afternoon stroll, or the media apps you use in the evening to help you wind down from a busy day. 

Android 11: How to download, install

If you have a Pixel 2 or later Pixel phone, Google will provide you with a notification for downloading Android 11 over-the-air. You can alternatively check for the update by going through Settings > System > System updates.

Google has also published the Android 11 OTA update files for all the compatible Pixel phones that you can sideload manually after downloading them onto your handset.

Android 11 factory images are also available to let you flash the new operating system onto your Pixel phone. Flashing the new update will erase all your existing data.

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