Android 11: The Best Features So Far and the Phones That’ll Get It

Android 11: The Best Features So Far and the Phones That’ll Get It
Image: Google/Lifehacker Australia

Google has released the long-awaited Android 11 beta after a short delay due to ongoing demonstrations for racial justice in the United States. It’s packed with a bunch of handy features so let’s deep dive into these to get you excited.

The beta for the upcoming Android 11 version has been released for Android fans around the world to get their hands on. As with all betas, the features are still in their infancy and a bit rough around the edges but they give us an indication of what to expect when the polished version is released in a few months’ time.

While stats from StatCounter in May 2020 show less than 20 per cent of devices worldwide have adopted Android 10, it’s already time to make way for the latest version. Here’s a list of its best features to look forward to.

Four Ways To Install The New Android 11 Public Beta

Because I just wrote a story about how to install the potentially buggier Developer Preview of Android 11, it’s only fitting that Google, today, launched the Android 11 public beta. And installing this latest beta onto your Pixel smartphone—and only Pixels, via official means—couldn’t be any easier.

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Say hello to “Bubbles”

First up, the Android 11 introduces a familiar but useful feature it’s calling ‘Bubbles’. For anyone who uses the Facebook Messenger app, the Bubbles functionality will not seem like anything new. It allows you to use other apps or browse the web while a little bubble-shaped pop up gives you the option to bring up an overlay screen so you can quickly respond to messages.

Google’s Bubbles work in essentially the same way but for its messaging feature, making it easier to use than switching between multiple apps.

As a side note, Google’s also adding conversations from all your messaging apps to the one spot in the notifications window. That way you can keep across your DMs and general messages.

A control “pocket” feature

Now that phones have become a remote control for a huge range of other devices, Google is creating a quick control hub. According to the images, it creates a dedicated space for you to control smart lights, smart locks and smart home appliances as well as host your credit cards and flight bookings.

It sounds like a pretty neat feature to have if you’ve got a great smart home setup but if you like to keep things analogue, it probably won’t be of much use.

Having your phone connected to multiple audio devices — for example, headphones, a smart hub, your laptop — means switching between them can be a bit of a nightmare. Android 11 will be adding a pull-up screen to let you quickly choose the source and change the volume to play your music. It looks like a handy feature but we’ll have to wait and see how it integrates all your non-Google devices.

One-time privacy permission

Finally, another major change will focus on even more granular privacy permissions. Android 10 already allowed you to choose between allowing an app to access certain information all the time, only while using the app or completely denying it. Android 11 will give you another more useful option — the ability to give it a one-off permission.

This tool will be extremely useful for those who like to pop on GPS tracking when they’re driving somewhere but don’t ever need it used otherwise. Same goes for apps that sometimes need microphone usage but shouldn’t need it every time you use it.

Android 11 will also auto-reset the permissions an app has after a certain amount of time of not using it, which you can re-grant when you start to use it again.

There are a range of other updates such as improvements to Voice Access and sharing between devices, however, these differences will only be noticeable when the final version is released.

What phones can get the Android 11 beta?

It’s to be expected but only Google Pixel phones will be able to install the beta for now. The developer blog states Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 4 devices can all get it but as we saw with the Android 10 release, it will eventually become available to other Android devices.

If we’re basing it off the Android 10 timeline, you might have to wait months until after the 11’s full release.

Either way, let’s hope it’s a little more exciting than Android 10.

Android 10 Is Fine, We Guess

Android 10 was released to Pixel phones in September 2019 after months of waiting and speculating. Touted as Android's best update, the Android 10 (FKA the 'Q') was promised to revolutionise the way we use Android devices. The thing is, it just isn't that groundbreaking. In fact, like Google dropping its dessert-naming system, it's frankly a bit disappointing.

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