Android 11 is here! Well, at least, in the Developer Preview form. It’s only February but, already Google unveiled the first-ever Android 11 build for developers on Pixel 2 and later. This version is super early though so Google doesn’t recommend using it on your daily driver. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to get stuck into. We’ve done some digging and here are all the Android 11 features that you need to know about so far.
The chat bubbles feature was supposed to be coming to Android 10 before. Then for some reason, it got sidelined halfway through development and moved to the developer options menu. But, the good news is, it’s back in Android 11. The idea consists of a system-wide version of Facebook Messenger’s chat heads. These chat heads feature floating bubbles. The bubbles let you hop between conversations without jumping into the app directly. You’ll still need to go back to the app to use all of its various features. Chat bubbles are a great way to have a conversation with someone without having to juggle multiple apps in the foreground. It will require developers to update their apps with the bubbles API. So, be prepared for a little bit of a wait.
Another chat related feature that Android 11 is supposed to introduce is a dedicated conversation section in the notification shade. This is pretty much similar to how Android 10 broke out notifications into noisy and silent. This feature will allow you to see any ongoing conversations you have across various messaging apps. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to keep in touch with your contacts no matter what else you’re doing.
There’s another big notification change too: that’s the ability to send images directly from a notification. If an app supports copy/paste for images, you’ll be able to insert pictures and send them with your messages without having to open the full application. You can’t demo this explicitly just yet because it’s not enabled in any of the current publicly available google apps. However, it does seem like it’d be a neat way to avoid cluttering up your internal storage with downloads when all you want to do is copy a photo from one app to another.
There are more changes coming in Android 1. The first developer preview introduces one-time permissions. It is an additional option to load an app that requires sensitive permissions like location, camera or recording. With this feature, if an app tries to use that permission of the later date, it’ll need to ask for your permission once again. It’s a very effective change. It means you can get permissions on occasions where it makes sense without giving an app carte blanche to do whatever it wants in the future.
So, let’s say you have a camera app opening your phone. You’re either recording a video or trying to compose a photo. Everything’s going smoothly until the app interrupts. An annoying notification buzz potentially ruining the show by distracting you making things look blurry or shaky. Android 11 introduces new APIs with mute vibrations to ringtones alarms and notifications anytime the camera app is open.
Here’s one for frequent fliers! In Android 11, turning on airplane mode won’t disable Bluetooth. Why is that a big deal? Well, if you’ve ever been sitting on the runway listening to music or a podcast. And the time comes to turn on airplane mode. Doing so would also cut off your Bluetooth earbuds and wearables. It’s a minor inconvenience. But, if you do fly a lot it’s a fairly annoying thing to have to deal with. In Android 11, no more toggling: airplane mode will keep your Bluetooth stuff connected.
The next thing smartphones are set to eliminate is your physical driver’s license. And to that end, Android 11 supports secure storage and retrieval of sensitive ID documents. This includes ISO 18013-5 mobile driving licenses. Before you get too excited, there’s one thing you need to know. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to add your existing license to your phone right away and be good to go. There’s still plenty of red tape involved with various governments. However, once digital driver’s licenses are the norm, Android 11 ensures your phone can support them.
Scoped storage is another feature. It was originally planned for Android 10. And, actually implemented in some of the early preview builds. But, ultimately was held back from the final release. It returns on Android 11 as a way to stop apps running roughshod of your phone’s internal storage. This means no need of having access to everything on your phone’s media storage. Apps targeting Android 11 will get their own siloed storage area.
Google’s made improvements to make the transition easier for developers and as mentioned earlier, the change will only affect apps targeting Android 11. So, older apps don’t immediately break as soon as your phone gets the update. This one sounds complex but is actually pretty simple. In Android 11, antlers biometric security API, the bits that handle fingerprint and face unlock, can now specify the strength of the biometrics involved. For example, a fingerprint or 3D face scan might be seen as strong. Whereas, a simple 2D face scan from a single front-facing camera might be seen as weak.
App developers can decide to require some features like online banking. To ask for a stronger level of authentication. Meanwhile, less important features might not need such strong biometrics. 5G is coming this year and by the time Android 11 hits the mass market, it will be very much a mainstream feature.
That is all from us folks! Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Stay posted for further such amazing news and update guides related to Android.