Android 11 is Here… Almost

The Android 11 Beta 1 was released yesterday, allowing developers to get to grips with all of the new features and additions to the OS in a more stable and finished version. But when can we, the users, get out hands on the latest update, and what can we expect to see when it does arrive?

While there is no fixed release date for Android 11 right now, it is likely to launch in late August or Early September. If you really want to get your hands on it now, and you have a Pixel 2, 3, 3a or 4 (or their XL versions), you can install the first Beta version by signing up to the Android Beta Program. Please be aware that this is very much NOT a finished version, and is likely to behave in unexpected ways, so installing it is done so at your own risk.

What Can We Expect From Android 11

At this stage, most of the new features will be locked in, so there shouldn’t be too many changes to what is being promised. However, as we have seen in the past, things can change during the Beta stages. Here’s what the Android Blog has to say in terms of what we can expect.

Focusing on people to make communication easier

Across Google, we’ve been thinking about how to help people communicate more effectively with each other. Google Meet is now available to everyone and can support larger meetings, and family mode for Duo lets you doodle on calls and add masks and effects, helping you express yourself in new and fun ways.

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. This is possible because of secure on-device intelligence that takes advantage of Federated Learning, and it works without Google ever seeing anything you type.

New ways to control your connected devices and media

As the world around us becomes more connected with ambient computing, Android 11 is helping you better 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). We like to think of it as a “pocket” for your digital wallet, keys and more.

We’re 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.

More privacy improvements

Every Android release has new privacy and security controls that let you decide how and when data on your device is shared. 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, we 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.

Additional Features

Android 11 brings many more features to your smartphone, like screen recorder, updated Voice Access, improved performance, and an improved share menu that makes it easier to share content from your phone. You can find many of these features in Beta, available on Pixel 2+ phones today and other devices in the coming weeks.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)
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