When is Android 11 being released?
- Announcement on 3 June
- Presentation begins at 11am Eastern Time/4pm BST/5PM CET/8:30PM Mumbai
As with most presentations and launch events for 2020, Google is shifting its big reveal online. The Android 11 beta launch show will start at 11am ET on 3 June. At this point we’ll find out how many of the new features actually make it to the final software.
The first public beta will likely be pushed out around about that time, but the official public release of final software isn’t normally released until a few months down the line, typically in the fourth quarter around the time new phones are launched.
Which phones will get it?
Initially, the launch will make its way to Google Pixel phones. In its developer preview versions, that has meant the following phones:
1. Pixel 2 and 2 XL
2. Pixel 3 and 3 XL
3. Pixel 3a and 3a XL
4. Pixel 4 and 4 XL
When the beta is pushed out to phones around the time of the announcement, we expect those will be the first wave of devices to receive the update.
Other phones will likely be included as well. In previous years, OnePlus, Xiaomi and other phone users have been able to test beta software too, although the method of installing it hasn’t been as seamless as Google’s own.
When you receive a message through the regular messages app, you can have it show up a notification in a floating bubble on the screen similar to how Facebook Messenger’s Chat Heads works.
Eventually this will be available to other third party apps, but currently it’s just the one. To use it, just long-press a message notification and tap “show in a bubble”, and now you get your bubbles.
From this point on – until you remove the bubble from the screen – any new messages will popup up as a window from this bubble. We presume this same method will apply if and when developers for apps like WhatsApp and Telegram implement the capability in their apps.
Resizable picture-in-picture window
Whenever you close a video app like YouTube or Netflix in Android it automatically puts that video in a small floating window on top of everything else, and keeps playing the video. In Android 11’s developer preview, Google added the option to resize that picture-in-picture window.
One cool new feature which some other Android phones already do – like the OnePlus 8 and 7T series phones – is easy screen recording. Drop down the quick setting shade, and the option is right there.
Once you tap on the screen recording quick setting tile there’s a pop-up window asking you to confirm whether you want to definitely start recording. Once confirmed, it’ll record whatever you’re doing on your phone before you decide to stop and save the footage. You can also cancel the recording any time.
What’s cool is that Android 11 breaks out and sorts notifications into relevant groups, so conversations – like the aforementioned SMS messages – appear at the top in their own easy to read section, making it easier to quickly reply and carry on with your tasks. Splitting them away from the other stuff you probably don’t care about as much.
As well as that, the actual visual interface of the notifications as been altered and developed throughout the Android 11 preview phase. There’s some added transparency and gradients in the most recent update, giving it a little more finesse.
New Recent apps screen
There’s an intriguing change to the recent apps screen in the latest developer preview, which gets rid of quick app suggestions, and replaces it with a screenshot/share option. Plus, the cards showing thumbnails of any recent apps have been made bigger too.
In the fourth developer preview, Google also addd a ‘Select’ button to the bottom row of icons on the recent apps screen to make it more clear that you can – indeed – manually select text or images from the app thumbnail card.
What’s more, when you swipe a card away to dismiss it/clear it from memory, there’s an undo option that lets you bring it back again when you’ve swiped it accidentally.
Back gesture sensitivity
When you’ve activated Android’s gesture navigation, swiping in from the edge replaces the ‘back’ button. In Android 11 you can adjust how sensitive you want this gesture to be, this will be helpful if you’re in an app with its own dedicated controls and gestures near the edge of the screen. You can even individually adjust the setting for each side of the display.
iPhone-like screenshot visuals
Similar to how other Android manufacturers – and indeed the iPhone – do it, when you take a screenshot, you’ll see a small thumbnail of that screenshot appear in the bottom corner of the display. It has a small ‘x’ to dismiss it, as well as ‘share’ and ‘edit’ options. That means it no longer takes up a full notification at the top of the screen.
Dark mode scheduling
Dark Mode first appeared as a system wide setting on Android 10. With Android 11 you can schedule and automated it. Set the time you want it to switch on or off each day manually by setting the time within the settings.
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Like so many apps and other Android phones you can also choose to have it come on at sunset, and switch off at sunrise.
Single time app permissions
Single time permissions is perhaps one of the biggest privacy based features. It lets you tell an app it can only access your location just that one time you’re using the app. Rather having to choose between ‘all the time’, ‘only when I’m using it’ or ‘never’. It gives you a lot more control.
Pin apps to top of share sheet
Pinning apps to the top of your share sheet. You can regularly use the same few apps to share links or files to. You can have them right at the top of the pop-up share window, making them easier to get to.
Of course there are other changes. Pixel 4 users are getting new air gestures. They can use to control the phone using the front facing Soli motion sensor chip.
There are also enhancements and better support for foldable displays and phones. With different style notches and hole-punch cutouts as well as better 5G support. That can tell when it’s appropriate to ramp up the quality of the video or music you’re streaming. As well as some other developer focussed changes.