Android 11: The Best Features so Far

by Pratik

Google recently launched the developer preview of Android 11 to give a glimpse of the changes about to happen. The developer build would be succeeded by a Beta Release somewhere in Q3 with the stable user build coming out at the end of Q4 2020. For a better understanding, below is the Android 11 release timeline.

Timeline for the Android 11 developer previews and betas

However, rumors and speculations have started regarding what would make way to the final Android 11. To list out, here’s what’s new in Android 11 or Android R (as per the Settings menu).

Android 11: What’s New

Android 11 is only available for the following devices:

  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a
  • Pixel 3a XL
  • Pixel 4
  • Pixel 4 XL

1. Revamped Android Permissions

I know seems like the start of the Android 10 article but, yet again, we have revamped Android Permissions. The biggest takeaway is that there is no “Allow all the time” permission for the location, microphone, and camera. It is replaced by “Only this time”.

So, for instance, if you don’t want to share your Location with the Instagram app because you know, Facebook. However, there’s this one photo that you want to upload with the location tag. Well, you can then choose “Only this time” for location and Android will provide the location permission only for this moment.

android11-new-location-and-camera-permission

Similarly, previously, in Android 10, when you deny app permission, the next time it requests the same permission you would have an option called “Deny & Don’t ask again” along with “Deny”. As of Android 11, there is no “Deny & Don’t ask again”. Android will automatically record the second Deny as Deny & Don’t ask again.

2. Scheduled Dark Mode

Android 10 came with system-wide dark mode. However, there was no option to toggle dark mode based on time or sunset. While you could do the same with third-party apps like Automatic Dark Theme but Android 11 lets you do it natively.

android11-dark-mode

3. Conversations & Bubbles

Android 11 has priority conversations which basically means that all the messaging app notifications will appear at the top. So, all your Slack, Telegram, SMS will be pinned at the top under Conversations, while notification from regular apps like Uber will appear below that. Have a look at this screenshot.

Another major update in Android 11, is the “chat bubbles” which was earlier seen in few Pixel devices at the end of 2019. But, as of now, Android 11 confirms that messaging apps can make use of the Bubble chat heads directly. You no longer have to turn on the toggle from the Developer options or within app settings. Long press the notification and pop out the notification as a chat bubble.

chat-bubbles-messaging-apps

4. Bluetooth Codecs

Android provided the option to switch Bluetooth codec way back since Android 7. However, the unsupported Bluetooth codecs were still available to choose from. That seems to change in Android 11, all the unsupported Bluetooth codecs will be greyed out when you connect your headphone or Bluetooth device.

android-10-vs-Android-11

5. Scoped Storage

App developed for Android 11 will have to adhere to Scoped Storage. This basically means an app would have its own folder where it can store media and recordings. If it wants access to other media files or folders, it has to ask for permission for certain types of files and folders separately.

File Manager apps can access all the files via special APIs.

For example, let’s consider a music player app. So a music player app can have its own isolated storage location. As soon as you open the app, the separate data folder is provided for which it doesn’t require any permission. This ensures that every app has its own data independent from other apps. However, when it wants to access the MP3 or audio files from local storage, it has to ask for permission to access audio files only. Upon permission, the music player cannot access anything apart from its own directory and audio files.

6. Refresh Rate

In Android 11, you have the option to display refresh rate continuously on the screen. This would come in handy to detect peak refresh rates of the display during gaming.

refresh-rate-android-11

7. Separate Gesture Sensitivity

Previously in Android 10, you had the option to customize the “Back Sensitivity”. Now, the back gesture got really controversial as it interfered with a lot of third-party navigation drawer. Google doesn’t seem to back on it and as of Android 11, you have the option to separately modify the sensitivity of left swipe and right swipe.

Search “Left Edge” in the Settings menu to get to the separate Gesture Settings like follows.

android-11-seperate-edge-sensitivity-gestures

8. Airplane Mode

Previously, and Android 10, switching to Airplane mode would also turn OFF the Bluetooth and you have to manually turn it ON. Finally, in Android 11, switching to Airplane mode won’t shut off Bluetooth. This option comes really handy when you have to switch to Airplane mode in a flight but not give up on the audio running via Bluetooth.

9. Native Screen Recording

Screen Recording was there in the Android 10 Beta variant and never saw the day of light. Yet again, it’s present in the Android 11 Developer variant. As of now, it’s on the notification drawer instead of the power menu.

android-11-native-screen-recorder

10. Pin Apps

In Android 10 brought suggested apps to the share sheet. So, Google decides the apps that get to be on top of the share sheet based on your usage. But posing Android 11, you now have the option to pin apps on the Share Sheet. However, unlike iOS 13, there is still no option to customize the Share Sheet menu.

android-10-vs-android-11-share-sheet

11. Cards & Payments

I wasn’t able to find this on my Pixel device due to the lack of Google NFC payments in India. However, 9to5Google reported that “Cards & Passes” started to appear on the Pixel device’s power menu and a new swipe to pay gesture.

12. Notification Log

Although a few people used the notification log, nonetheless, it’s seeing a slight bit of changes in Android 11. Previously, in Android 10, it would first give the notification text and then the app name. Now, in Android 11, text and app names have swapped places and things look a bit pleasant. android-10-vs-anroid-11-notification-log

Moreover, tapping on a notification would show you a bunch of code in Android 10. But, now in Android 11, it takes you to the notification manager of the app where you can silence or disable the notification. This makes the job a tad bit easier when you have to disable notifications while viewing the notification log.

Apart from these, there are a lot of under the hood changes which are fantastically being covered by the XDA Developers. For any queries or information regarding Android 11, comment below or hit me out on Twitter.

Also Read: How to Get Live Captions on Any Android Device Running Android 10

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