Android 10 which was released last year was a major move for the operating system. Besides the fact that we got the hotly anticipated dark mode and significant changes to the app permissions, Android 10 also denoted Google’s takeoff from dessert names and introduced another Android logo/brand.
Android 10 was a cycle of growth and maturity for the operating system, and those equivalent standards are being continued to Android 11. We’re as yet a couple of months out from the final build been accessible for everybody, but with a developer preview now out in the wild, we have a smart thought of where Google needs to take Android in 2020.
Eager to learn all about what Android 11 is packing? Here’s All you need to know!
- Developer Preview 1 is out
- Top features
- 5G Network is a big focus
- Tons of messaging improvements
- Permissions keep getting better
- You can flash it right now
- New form factors
- Updates and other features
- The final build is coming in Q3
Developer Preview 1 is Now Available
On February 19, Google kicked off the hype train by releasing the first developer preview for Android 11 — giving us an early look at its biggest features and new logo.
Based on what we know so far, Android 11 looks to be a fairly modest year-over-year improvement compared to Android 10. At least in Developer Preview 1, there aren’t any major UI changes (though this could change later on). We’ll dive deeper into some of the biggest features below, with some of them being improvements to how Android handles 5G connections, support for more display types, and more powerful permission controls.
That may sound kind of boring, but don’t check out quite yet. Google often keeps changes and updates coming with each new developer preview, meaning Developer Preview 1 is not indicative of what Android 11 will look like in its final form.
These are the top features
5G Network is a Big Focus
5G finally started making its way to people last year, and throughout 2020, more and more folks are going to connect to the next generation of wireless data. To help that process be as smooth as can be, Android 11 adds a very important “Dynamic Meterdness API.”
That may not sound very exciting on paper, but it essentially allows phones to take full advantage of all the power 5G brings.
If the API detects that you’re connected to an unlimited 5G signal, you’ll access the highest possible quality for videos and graphics. The potential for 5G is pretty darn cool, and this API ensures you take full advantage of the speeds available to you.
Lots of improvements for messaging
Reading through Google’s initial press release for the first Android 11 developer preview, it’s obvious that this update is doing a lot to improve Android’s messaging experience. In fact, there are three core upgrades that should make a big difference in your day-to-day use.
First on the list, we have chat bubbles. Similar to what Facebook’s offered for years with its Messenger app on Android, chat bubbles in Android 11 will hide your ongoing conversations in little bubbles on the side of your screen. You can move the bubbles around, and tapping on them will reveal that specific conversation. The Bubbles API is being made available for all messaging apps, with Google encouraging developers to adopt it.
In another effort to make sure you can get to your messages as quickly as possible, Android 11 introduces a dedicated conversation section in your notification shade that’ll offer instant access to any ongoing conversations you have. In theory, this should help make your messages stand out from other notifications.
Speaking of messages and notifications, Android 11 makes it possible to send images when replying to a message directly from the notification shade.
Looking back on Android 10, one of its highlights was its improved handling of app permissions. Android 10 gave users more control over applications and what they could access, and Android 11 keeps this train rolling with a wonderful new addition.
Now, when an app asks for permission to use sensitive features like your location, microphone, or camera, you can choose to only grant it access on a one-time basis. The app will be able to use that permission during that instance of you using the app, but as soon as you leave it, the permission is revoked. The next time you use the app and it wants to use that permission, it needs to be granted access again.
Giving apps permission to these aspects of your phone should not be taken lightly, so we’re thrilled to see Google giving users more control over their data like this.
You can Flash Android 11 on your phone (but you shouldn’t)
Android 11 currently exists as a developer preview, and right now, it is in the earliest stage that we’ll see. You can put it on your phone if you want, but we’d advise against that.
First of all, you need to manually flash Android 11 Developer Preview 1 to get it on your phone in the first place. Unlike later builds of the OS, you can’t just download an over-the-air update.
Furthermore, the purpose of this initial developer preview is so developers can start working with the new Android version and get their apps ready for its final release. In other words, it’s not meant for regular use on your daily driver.
With all of that out of the way, if you’re dead-set on putting Android 11 on your phone right now, we have a guide walking you through the process of exactly what you need to do.
New Form Factors
As more devices with unique designs enter the market, such as vertically- and horizontally-folding smartphones, Android has evolved to include support for these new form factors.
Android 11 includes APIs which let developers optimize their applications to support these form factors, including waterfall and pinhole screen designs.
Android 11 will sport improved security features, from expanded biometrics support to secure ID storage.
These changes are detailed below:
- Biometrics – BiometricPrompt now supports three authenticator types with different levels of granularity and can be more easily integrated with different app architectures.
- Platform hardening – Improvements to the protection of security-critical components and heap pointer tagging for catching memory issues.
- Identity credentials – Support for the secure storage and retrieval of identification documents, such as mobile driving licenses.
Android 11 will also allow applications to share data more securely through a Blobstore Manager.
Updates and Other Features
Google said it has been working to reach a wider range of devices more quickly with its updates.
“We’re also working to make updates faster and smoother by prioritizing app compatibility as we roll out new platform versions,” the company said.
We have a few months to go before the final build
Android 11 may technically be available right now, but we have a ways to go before it’s ready for everyone.
Developer Preview 1 is the current version, and Google will release two more between now and April. Once May rolls around, the first public beta will be made available and see two subsequent updates that focus on platform stability. Then, in Q3, the final version of Android 11 will be released to the masses.
In total, that’ll see Google releasing six betas/previews leading up to Android 11 in its final form.
Developers can now visit the Android 11 developer site, download a system image for the Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 5, and try out the new operating system.