Google released the first-ever build of the Android 11, although a bit earlier than expected.
Nevertheless, the latest Android version encompasses a lot of amazing features, including visual changes, additions to enhance user’s security, and support for newer technologies such as Foldables and 5G.
Before we discuss the best features of Android 11, let’s discuss the Android 11 release date and when it will land on your Android device, if at all.
What is Android 11 called?
Android 11 is called, wait for it *drum rolls* Android 11. If you were living under a rock this whole time, Google last year decided to drop the letters and the dessert names in the next Android versions.
For the record, it’s plain and straightforward Android 11 instead of Android R. Nevertheless, we would have appreciated something like Android Red Velvet cake or Android Rum cake for that matter.
There are references to Android R, in the Android 11 Developer Preview, but they are just for the developers, so don’t get your hopes high.
Android 11 Release Date
It’s too early to say when Google will officially roll-out Android 11. We can still pinpoint the Android 11 release date month based on what we have.
Like every year, Google has released a roadmap for the Android 11 2020 release. As per the official schedule, Google will release the next Android version in Q3 2020.
We can expect the Android 11 final release in August, owing to the fact that Google has deviated from the Android 10 release timeline by one month.
Google rolled out Android 10 DP1 in March, and the final version in September. As I said, the Developer Preview of Android 11 came in too early, implying the final release will be released earlier than usual.
Android 11 Supported Devices
Android 11 first public beta is still in the process, hence the Google beta program; few Android devices that are allowed to test the latest Android version could be weeks away.
Nevertheless, there are high chances that your device will be part of the Google beta program if it’s a high-end device. We will know more about the supported devices in the future.
For now, Google Pixel owners can test out the latest Android 11 update. Here is the list of devices supporting Android 11 –
- Google Pixel 2/2XL
- Google Pixel 3/3XL
- Google Pixel 4/4XL
Sadly, the first Pixel and Pixel XL users don’t have anything new to look forward to the upcoming developer preview.
Android 11 Best Features
1. Dark Theme Scheduling
Google rolled out the system-wide dark mode in Android 10. The latest Android update adds a small, however, important update to Android’s best features.
Users can now schedule when the dark mode will be activated in Android 11. In the dark theme settings, a user can either schedule the system-wide dark theme for sunset to sunrise or enter a custom duration.
The Android 11 feature is currently being rolled out to Google Pixel owners via the Pixel feature drop.
2. Native Screen Recorder
A native screen recorder in Android is in the pipeline for more than a year now. The feature first arrived in one of the Android 10 developer previews; however, Google redacted it before the final release.
It appears that the in-house screen recorder is now finally ready, not “now” now, but it will be, hopefully, in the final version. At present, users can toggle it from the notification shade in the Android 11 DP1, and that’s it.
There are no further settings to change the resolution. Moreover, the screen-recorder lacks the capability to record audio by default.
3. Share Menu Pin apps
The Android share menu has been problematic since the start, especially the changing categories every time we reopen the menu. However, Google has fixed the problem in Android 11 with the option to pin apps.
In the latest Android update, users can pin up to four apps in the Android Share Menu. The feature first appeared in the Android 10 developer build, but Google dropped it for the final version. Hopefully, Pin apps in the Share Menu option is here to stay on Android 11.
4. Never let go of conversations
One of the most useful Android 11 features is the new “dedicated conversation section” in the notification shade.
In all earnest, app notifications are a mess. Most are obtrusive and fill up the notification shade, forcing users to put extra effort into finding the important ones.
Google is solving the problem by highlighting conversations in the notification shade. Android 11 features a new conversation section that appears right at the top of the notifications tray. This marks a total of three notification sections in Android — Conversations, Standard, and Silent.
5. Multi-colored Quick Settings Tiles
A major visual change that users should expect in the final Android 11 update is multi-colored icons in the Quick Settings area.
The new Android version enables users to add different color codes to each quick setting icon. Of course, Google doesn’t want users to go overboard; hence, it offers only the four colors —red, blue, yellow, and green.
For now, coloring Quick Settings icons involves running a number of ADB commands, so we will just leave a how-to article, assuming not everyone is running the Android 11 Developer Preview.
6. Chat “Bubbles”
Bubbles is an Android 10 feature that Google didn’t push in the last version. The option still lurks in the shadows of Developer options.
However, Google will roll-out the feature at full-throttle on Android 11. Developers have already been told to incorporate the feature’s API into the Android apps.
Bubbles enable multitasking and interacting with apps without needing to close the current app. Think of it like Facebook messenger chat heads — This Android 10 feature lets you minimize any app into a little circle that floats on your screen above all other apps.
7. New App Permissions
In the previous Android version, Google introduced a separate permission manager in the Android settings and the “Allow it only while using the app” option while granting access to the user’s location.
On Android 11, Google is adding another permission option: “Allow only this time.” The app will ask for user approval the next time the Android app is opened. As of now, the new permission option is available when asking for Location, Microphone, and Camera permissions.
8. Double-tap gesture [Google Pixel Excluisve]
While digging through Android 11 DP1, 9to5Google’s Dylan Roussel discovered a Pixel-exclusive feature that goes by the name “Columbus.”
Toggling the feature enables a double-tap gesture on the back of the Google Pixel phone. Users can use the Android 11 feature to launch Google Assistant, Camera, snooze alarms, and more.
The double-tap gesture works whether your screen is on or off. We are yet to test the feature.
9. Tap in the air [Google Pixel 4 Exclusive]
Google Pixel 4 owners are getting a new Motion Sense gesture with Android 11. Previously, Pixel 4’s Soli chip enabled users to skip tracks back and forth by waving in the air, right above the device.
As spotted by XDA Developers, now users can pause or play music by literally tapping in the air.
Google is also using the opportunity to add a touch sensitivity feature for Google Pixel 4 owners to dilute the touch degradation, which comes as a by-product when using a screen protector.
9. Other Android 11 features
Live Refresh Rate
A developer option in Android 11 settings displays the current Refresh rate on the screen. Users will see the number in the top left corner of the screen.
We are not sure about the usage of the feature since the refresh rate remains constant, even if it is changed to 90Hz or 120Hz.
Bluetooth in Airplane Mode
There are barely any smartphones left that have a dedicated headphone jack. Naturally, Bluetooth has become a necessity in the world of wireless headphones.
However, Airplane mode switches off Bluetooth on all Android smartphones. While users can turn it back on, it is an unnecessary step. One new Android 11 feature is Bluetooth will remain on in airplane mode if it is connected to a wireless device.
The little known Notification log may be changed to Notification history with a bunch of additional features in Android 11.
For those who don’t know, a hidden setting in Android brings up the Notification Log, where users can check the missed notifications. The feature will likely revamp in Android 11 with more focus on the notifications.
Apart from the Android 11 features mentioned above, there are under the hood changes such as more support for the 5G network as well as foldable devices.
Google is also adding 12 new modules that will be updated through the Google Play Store instead of a full OS update. Google claims Android 11 devices will be able to hold “verifiable identification documents, such as ISO 18013-5 compliant Mobile Driving Licenses.”
Android 11 is still in early development. Therefore, Android fans should expect a sudden drop or addition of new features. We will keep updating this post as more information comes in.