On Wednesday, June 10, Google deployed the first beta version of Android 11 on its Pixel smartphones. Here are the main new features and fun...
On Wednesday, June 10, Google deployed the first beta version of Android 11 on its Pixel smartphones. Here are the main new features and functionalities of Google's next mobile operating system.
After having postponed its launch originally planned for June 3rd and having partially leaked it, Android 11 beta is finally here. After several Developer Preview (DP) releases, Google has just announced the first beta of the next major version of its mobile operating system.
Despite a few days of delay, the initial schedule is still valid. There will therefore be two "beta" versions before the arrival of the final version of Android 11 towards the end of the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020).
How do I install Android 11 beta on my Android smartphone?
The beta version of Android 11 is distributed as an online OTA (Over the air) update, so there is no need for tedious ADB or fastboot manipulation. The update is only available for Google Pixel 2, 3, 3a and 4 smartphones at the moment and Google is restricting the number of users who can benefit from it.
If your smartphone is one of the lucky ones to support the new update, you can sign up for the beta directly on Google's official website. This is a beta version that will probably be unstable and may block certain functions of your smartphone. Install it at your own risk but avoid installing it on your main smartphone.
At the time of writing this article, Google seems to have chosen not to involve its manufacturer partners in the Android 11 beta. Last year, 20 different smartphones could still benefit from Android 10 Q beta. We'll let you know if anything changes. Let's talk about what's new now.
Enhanced Google video conferencing features
Google offers two different video conferencing platforms for communication: Google Meet and Google Duo. On Android 11, Google Meet will be available free of charge to all users. Here you can now use larger rooms and invite more participants.
On Google Duo, the new beta version extends the range of features of the family mode. In a video chat, you can now draw directly in the picture or add effects and filters.
Messenger, Bubble and Gboard: Android 11 helps you manage your messages better
Messaging applications now have their own area in notifications that summarizes messages and aims to simplify their management. In addition to a quick overview of the individual messages, you can also prioritize them. Priority messages are then also displayed when the device is muted.
With Android 11, bubble notifications finally arrive on your smartphone. With this feature, you can reply directly to messages without opening the Messenger application.
The Gboard keyboard has received another new feature: you can now get suggestions for text blocks or emojis when writing your messages. This is made possible by Federated Learning, a special type of automatic learning. The special feature is that the system accesses your entered data, but only uses it locally. Google promises that this data will not be viewed or stored.
Better management of connected objects and a better media player with the "Power Menu".
It's one of the big new features of Android 11. The "Power Menu" is activated by holding down the power button. In addition to the power options (power on, power off, etc.) this menu is a real control center for your smartphone.
The Power Menu would thus make it possible to manage all registered (Google Pay contactless payment) cards. It would also embark all widgets/shortcards to control the connected objects linked to your smartphone. The Connected Home and IoT seem to be a key point of this future OS of Google Android 11.
In addition, you'll now find a section in the notifications that allows you to switch from one playback device to another, such as speakers or connected TVs.
Google strengthens privacy on smartphones
With Android 11, you also have more control over your data. It is now possible to allow an application to access sensitive data such as camera, location or microphone only once. If you want to use the application again, you will first need to obtain your access authorisation again.
The option to manage location-based permissions is not new, but you can now also set these permissions for microphone and camera access only once, if you want (and not only when the application is active), which is a big plus.
A further improvement is made to data protection for applications that have not been used for a long time. For these applications, Google will reset the permissions you have received so far. You will receive a notification with the appropriate information. If you wish to use the application again, you are free to grant permissions after opening it.
A native screen recorder for Android 11 at last!
Android fans and connoisseurs have been waiting for this feature for years. This is a native screen recorder. Although this feature will not be used in everyday life, the Developer Preview 2 has followed the expectations of the public and we find this new feature on the Android 11 beta.
The update has added a screen recorder with a neat user interface and buttons to record audio.
Adaptability to all types of screens
Manufacturers are competing creatively to offer the best possible smartphone display. Faced with this fierce competition, Android 11 is positioning itself as a guarantor of the modernity to come and has decided to take on all these advances.
For example, smartphone screens in recent years now have faster and faster refresh rates. Indeed, it is no longer rare nowadays for phones to come with screens that refresh at 90 or 120 Hz. Android 11 is positioned here as a way to make better use of these powerful screens.
Application suggestions for your Dock
We like the pressure builders put on us to use their homemade applications, don't we? With Android 11, Google wants to "suggest" you applications to put in your dock (at the bottom of the home screen). If your dock isn't full, Android 11 will select some for you to install in a single gesture.
This option would be disableableable and would fortunately be limited to only launching Pixel smartphones for now.
Android 11: Compatible smartphones
As explained at the beginning of the article, Android 11 is still in beta for the moment and compatible smartphones are therefore currently reduced to Google Pixel, except for the first generation.
Are therefore compatible with Android 11:
Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL
Google promises more smartphones will follow "in the coming weeks." Android 11's final release date is expected in the third quarter of 2020. We'll be updating this article regularly as beta and compatibility of new smartphone models evolves.