Android 11: what’s new and all you need to know about the update

Amine Sahal
Android 11 new features

Android 11 is already available in a preview version for developers. Google’s eleventh mobile OS update brings a host of new features, including native video screenshots, a single-use permission system, and automated dark mode. We are going to give you an update on new features, release dates, and smartphones that will be compatible with Android 11.

Android 11 schedule

Android 11 release date

A little ahead of schedule, Google has released the first beta of Android 11 for developers. The Mountain View firm has already deployed two other preview versions reserved for developers. The beta program will, therefore, be open to the public in the coming weeks, probably in May, the period when Google usually launches betas due to its Google I/O conference, which 2020 edition has been canceled.

As for the final version of Android 11, the launch will take place in the third quarter of 2020, after six beta versions. For more information, check out the Android 11 deployment schedule.

The new features

At the launch of the first Developer Preview , Google discussed the main new features of Android 11 for application developers. Below is a summary of the most important new features that are of particular interest to Android users. In the coming months, Google will unveil more additions and changes.

Allowing one-time access to geolocation

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Like iOS 13, Android 11 implements a single-use authorization system. Users will be able to choose to share their location with a third-party application on a one-time basis. The next time the application wants to collect your location, it will have to ask for your permission again—the same thing to get access to the camera or microphone on your phone. Similarly, the Play Store will only allow applications to request access to your location if it is necessary to “perform their primary function.” Google has already implemented similar restrictions for apps that collect SMS and call history.

Native video screenshots

Android 11 natively integrates a video screen capture system. The option is directly accessible in the quick settings of your smartphone in the “screen recording” section.

Restrictive permissions extended to other resources

Another important point about permissions is that restrictive permissions, which allow access to a resource only when the application is active (in the foreground), will be extended. In Android 10, they only concerned access to the geographical location. In Android 11, they will also be compatible with photosensors (including the selfie sensor) and microphones. The aim is to prevent the possible collection of information without authorization.

In the same vein, Google has introduced a new option for intelligent permissions management in Android 11 preview 3. It is now possible to automatically block permissions to inactive applications. These are applications that have not been used for “a few months” explains Google without further details on the delay.

Android 11 adapts to new screen types

With Android 11, Google is adapting its mobile OS to the new screen designs that have appeared on the market, such as pinhole cutouts or highly curved screens (Waterfall Display). The firm provides a programming interface that allows exploiting the specificities of these screens. So, in short, future Android applications will be better optimized for such displays.

After the release of the first smartphones with folding screens (Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X), this version of Android will natively support its new slab formats and devices that change their grip on the fly. Android 11 will be able to detect whether a hinge is open or closed, as well as the angle of opening to adapt the interface to the intended use.

Another new feature supported by Android is high refresh rates. Android 11 will be the first version to be natively compatible with 90 Hz and 120 Hz screens, allowing apps to take better advantage such high refresh rates.

A conversation category in the notifications

Google adds a section dedicated to conversations in the Android Notification Center. All your messages and conversations in progress will be listed in this section. In addition, Android 11 will allow developers to place your current conversations in bubbles, just like Facebook Messenger. All messaging applications will be able to take advantage of this system, which is very much appreciated by users.

Android 11 prepares the arrival of 5G

Android 11 provides developers with programming interfaces to determine whether a user is connected to a 5G network. Depending on the network to which your phone is connected, applications will adapt their mobile data consumption. A 5G indicator is also provided in the operating system. Developers will be able to use it to display connectivity in applications.

Android updates via the Play Store

Determined to accelerate the deployment of Android updates, Google is looking to simplify the process. To that end, the company is updating more and more elements of the Android system via the Play Store. With Android 11, 22 Android modules can be updated via the store, compared to only ten elements under Android 10. With Android 11, Google also wants to systematize the installation of updates in the background in order to make the process smoother for users.

Smartphones compatible with Android 11

Initially, only Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4 XL are compatible with the update. As a rule, additional smartphones from other manufacturers will be added to the list when the beta program opens to the public in May 2020. For more information, please see the list of smartphones compatible with Android 11.

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