After an initial developer preview beginning in March, and a longer beta period starting in July, Google has today released the Android 11 update in full.
The release is initially available for Google’s Pixel phones (Pixel 2 and above), as well as selected phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and realme. Google says more partners will be launching devices with and upgrading devices to Android 11over the coming months.
The Android 11 update includes a load of new features including the features from the developer preview which focused on Privacy, Controls and People.
So what’s new in Android 11? Announcing the latest version of Android, VP, Android Engineering Dave Burke announced 11 things you’ll find in Android 11.
Google is bringing all your conversations from all your different messaging apps into a dedicated section of the notification area. Called ‘Conversations’ the section will live at the top of your notification list so you don’t miss a thing.
If you love the Facebook style Chat Heads you’ll love the new bubbles for messaging apps in Android 11. These bubbles can pop up anywhere on your screen and you can drag them where you want, while still retaining quick access to your ongoing conversation in any app.
After years, Google has finally brought native screen recording to Android. You can now record something on your phone – with sound input from your mic, device or both and share it as a video. You’ll find a shortcut for Screen Recording in your quick settings to start.
Easy Access to Smart Home Controls
Accessing your lights, or any smart devices in your home can be a hassle, but with Android 11 you can adjust the temperature on a thermostat, view cameras, adjust your lights, and more in your power menu.
Media Controls in Quick Settings
For anyone launching a media app in Android 11 you’ll see the media controls appear in the quick settings area of your notification shade. You’ll also be able to switch from different sources like from a speaker to your bluetooth headphones with ease.
Wireless Android Auto
An annoyance for anyone with a head unit in their car which supports Android Auto wirelessly, is that you had to have a Pixel to use it. With Android 11 anyone with an Android Auto Wireless unit is now able to connect wirelessly.
Google is making a big effort with privacy in Android 11, and that means an overhaul of app permissions. In Android 11 you can grant single use permissions for the microphones, camera, and location data on your phone, with apps forced to ask permission every time they open. This keeps you aware of what apps are using.
Google is also making Android 11 auto reset your permissions on apps you don’t use often. This means you can reset the permissions on an app you use rarely when you next open.
Google Play System Updates
The Android update problem was mostly fixed with the implementation of Google Play Services updates, with Android 11 Google is again expanding the scope of these updates. Google says they can push security and privacy fixes to your phone through Google Play Services without the need to wait for a full OS update.
Using Android in a corporate environment is getting easier, withAndroid 11 making it easier for your IT department to monitor your work profile without monitoring your personal profile data or activity on your phone.
Pixel Phone Launcher improvements
Google is targeting their own phones with the launch of Android 11, offering new features including ‘app suggestions on the home screen based on your daily routines, and new overview actions that allow you to take a screenshot of an app and select text and images, and more’.
Bonus: Under the hood
Google has also expanded on some of their improvements behind the scenes on their Android Developer Blog. Improvements include expansion of the Biometric API to include more like facial recognition, improvements to scoped storage (it maintains security of your app files in storage).
5G is of course a hot topic for phones these days and Google is including improved support for 5G across the board.
In Android 11 developers can access data including whether a user is connected to a 5G network, as well as check whether the connection is metered, and get an estimate of the connection bandwidth.
Android 11 statue
As part of the launch of Android 11 there is of course an easter egg and it’s the Android 11 statue. Google stopped doing dessert themes for their updates – Android 11 is still known as ‘Red Velvet Cake’ internally at Google though – but there’s still an Android 11 statue which was shared by Dave Burke on Twitter.
You can download the Android 11 update for the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 4a right now by going to Settings>System>Advanced>System update on your phone. A word of warning though, the Pixel 4 is a 1.72GB update so maybe wait for a Wi-Fi connection.
For any user on the Android Beta program, the update should be offered to your device soon, so keep an eye out.
It’s a big day for Android fans, so download it and let us know what your favourite new feature is.