Top Android 11 features and everything else you need to know

Once the public beta landed, other manufacturers started their own beta programs. OnePlus and Oppo both rolled out Android 11 beta programs for some of their flagship phones.

Avatar Written by August 17, 2020 14:12

New Delhi: Google has so far rolled out three Android 11 public beta versions for compatible smartphones, but the world had different plans for this year’s software update. Despite the lack of fanfare, Google has now released the first public beta for Pixel users, leaving enough time to get the kinks worked out before it drops for other Android devices later this year.

Top Android 11 features and everything else you need to know

When is Android 11 being released?

  • Final beta is out now
  • Public version planned to launch on 8 September

Which phones will get it? 

Initially, the launch made its way to the following Google Pixel phones:

Pixel 2 and 2 XL
Pixel 3 and 3 XL
Pixel 3a and 3a XL
Pixel 4 and 4 XL 

Once the public beta landed, other manufacturers started their own beta programs. OnePlus and Oppo both rolled out Android 11 beta programs for some of their flagship phones.

Every Android beta is ostensibly a tease of what’s to come. If you download the Android 11 beta, you accept the contract of not-quite-perfect software and buggy performance with third-party apps. But in exchange, you’ll be among the first to access new features like Android 11’s revamped notifications shade, a centralized power menu and more granular permission controls.

Where to begin? Here’s a quick walkthrough of our 13 favorite new features in Android 11.

Bubbles

Similar to Facebook Messenger’s chat bubbles, Android 11 will also offer chat bubbles for different apps. As the name suggests, this feature turns text messages from apps like WhatsApp to chat bubbles. These chat bubbles can be moved around the phone and you can go about doing other things while replying to messages at the same time. Chat bubbles can be activated by tapping on the circle icon that appears in the notification panel of that particular message.

Revamped notifications for conversations

On previous versions of Android, notifications would come through like a rush of water, with timely messages buried under less pertinent app notifications. In Android 11, notifications for conversations can be categorized into three distinct tiers so that the most critical messages always slide in at the top.

A new space for media players

In previous Android versions, if you were listening to music or casting videos on a nearby display, your media controls would appear inside the notification shade. In Android 11, they’ve been moved up so they’re stacked next to the Quick Settings. The result is a control panel-esque setup embedded directly at the top of your screen.

Device, media controls

Google is offering better and more controls over Bluetooth devices and media players. Device controls can be accessed by holding down the power button. Here, different actions to control smart home devices can be accessed. Android 11 will also let users change the Bluetooth device used for playing music from the media card itself. For example, you can switch between your wireless earbuds to a Google Home straight from the media card. Another update in Android 11 is that the Now Playing card has been added to the Quick Settings menu.

New app icon shapes

Stock Android (or rather, Google’s version of the operating system) doesn’t allow you to change your icon based on an icon pack, but it does let you play around with different icon shapes. Android 11 introduces three new ones, bringing the total to seven different icon shapes.

Privacy

Google added important privacy features last year on Android 10 to do with apps collecting background data and location data. On Android 11, Google is improving this by introducing one-time permissions for apps to access the device microphone, camera and location. App permissions will also auto-reset if the app hasn’t been used for a long time.

Zombie permissions

You may have seen Android 11’s new auto-reset permissions feature referred to as “zombie permissions.” It’s the perfect way to describe how they work.