The Android 11 beta is now available to to the public. Here’s what it includes and which devices can use it.
The Android 11 beta was supposed to launch on June 4, but was delayed due to Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. and across the globe.
Android 11 beta features
As The Verge notes, Android 11 doesn’t add a tonne of new stuff. Rather, it makes some tweaks. It also focuses on three key areas: People, Controls, and Privacy.
- Conversations: this new section lives beneath the shade and groups together notifications from different messaging services, such as Facebook Messenger.
- Bubbles: this allows any messaging and chat apps to have a floating bubble pop up on the screen. This is something you’ve probably noticed on Facebook Messenger for years. It’s worth noting that apps will need to include the Bubbles API for this to work. Users also have the option to choose which apps they want this functionality toggled on for.
- Long Press Notifications: You will also be able to assign chats certain levels of priority, which is good if you’re not a fan of the Bubbles functionality. You do this by long-pressing the notification and assigning it as Priority, Alerting or Silent. Priority will make the notification and the person’s avatar appear on the lock screen and at the top of your notifications shade. Alerting will function as per normal and Silent will stop the chat from alerting your phone. However, notifications will still appear in ‘Conversations’ for when you want to go back to it.
- Voice Access: On the accessibility front Android 11 has added voice access which offers “on-device visual cortex that understands screen content and context, and generates labels and access points for accessibility commands.” This essentially means you can now speak naturally and just say what’s on the screen, which is a huge improvement.
- Consolidated keyboard suggestions: This basically means Gboard will now have auto-fill functionality.
Other features include customising the apps impacted by Do Not Disturb and the introduction of Native Screen Recording.
Device controls can now be access by long-pressing the power button. This will allow you to control external devices, such as smart devices. You can basically use it like a quick menu to control things like a Google Home or smart lights. the API must be included by app developers for this to work.
Media controls have also been moved to a Quick Settings area above notifications. It can be expanded out to show more info from your music app of choice.
On the privacy front Android 11 will now allow one-time microphone, camera and/or location permissions. An app’s permissions will also auto-reset if you haven’t used it in awhile – although we don’t know the time period as yet. As such, you would need to give that app permissions again in the future.
While Android announced in February that developers need to get approval to access background locations, this will not be enforced until 2021. This is to give devs more time to make the necessary changes.
You can read more about Android 11’s new features and improvements for devs over on the Android Developers Blog.
Which phones work with Android 11 beta
The Android 11 beta is currently only available on compatible Google Pixel devices. These include:
- Pixel 2 series
- Pixel 3 series
- Pixel 3a series
- Pixel 4 series
If you have any version of the above (including the XL variants) the Android 11 beta will work.
How to install Android 11 beta
You can enrol in the Android 11 beta by heading over to the beta site. Make sure you’re logged into your Google account so it can detect whether you have a compatible device. If one shows up hit ‘enrol’.
While you might get a notification when the OS is ready to install, you can also check manually. Go to System > System Update. ‘Check for update’.
While Android betas can appear quite quickly, sometimes then can take hours or even a whole day, so be patient.
Once the Android 11 beta is downloaded the installation process will begin like normal.
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