After a delay due to ongoing issues in the US, Google has today released the Android 11 Beta for select Pixel phones, with more devices coming soon. 

The Android 11 Beta is the first of the Android Developer Previews launched in February which is aimed at giving general users a view of – as well as getting them to test – what’s coming in Android 11. 

So what’s new in the Android 11 Beta? Well, as seen in the Dev Preview, Google is focusing on three main areas: People, Controls and Privacy.

In terms of people. Google will offer more ways to communicate with improved access to your conversations in the notification panel. In Android 11 you can directly access these conversations from the notification shade.  

Google too is improving their ‘Bubbles’ they introduced in the Dev Preview, you can launch a bubble to contain a conversation from the notification panel and switch back and forth easily between important conversations without switching back and forth between apps.

You can also get relevant, automatic suggestions for emoji and text in Gboard now, with ‘secure on-device intelligence’ that uses on device data and machine learning that doesn’t need the Google servers – so a win for privacy.

Google is also making it easier to control your smart home, and your media with the Android 11 Beta. You’ll be able to access your smart device controls from your power menu, including smart lights, your thermostat (if you have a smart one) and more. 

If you like to play music, you can also now get access to your media controls in the notification panel and the quick settings menu

Android 11 Beta introduces new media controls, making it faster and more convenient to switch to the device your audio or videos are playing on – or you want them to play on. 

Google is conscious of their record on privacy and they’re giving users more control letting you get more control.

In Android 11 you can give an app permission to access your microphone, camera or location just that one time if you need. Next time the app needs to use one of those things it will need to ask for permission again.

Google didn’t get the chance to showcase the Android 11 Beta as they wanted this year, but have released all their developer focused sessions they wanted to release at Google I/O on YouTube today. Google will also be hosting a series of Developer focused talks over the next 11 weeks – though no meetups are scheduled in Australia at this stage. The talks will include a Q&A session at the end, with Reddit AMA’s on Thursday’s of Week 4, 7 and 11.

The Android 11 Beta can be installed to any Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, or Pixel 4 via an Over The Air update once the phone is registered on the Android Beta website. Google has said that the Android 11 Beta will be coming to ‘other devices in the coming weeks’ though they haven’t expanded on which manufacturers would be included.