be-nz logo
Story image

Android 11 Beta is here - here's what to expect

Android 11 is rolling out on Google Pixel phones this week, with a wider release expected to follow suit on other devices in the coming weeks.

Users can expect better communication features, privacy and better ways to control connected devices.

Google had initially postponed the beta release of Android 11, as focus around the world shifted to the Black  Lives Matter movement, "so that people could focus on important discussions about racial justice", Google said.

In announcing the release of the new operating system, instead of a livestream event Google shared several videos and online resources for users to consume at their own pace.

"We humbly thank those who are able to offer feedback on this release at this time. Your feedback is essential in building a helpful mobile platform for billions of people, developers and manufacturers around the world," says Dave Burke VP, Android Engineering.

So, what's new?
Android 11 will move all of conversations across multiple messaging apps to a dedicated space in the notification section. 

"This makes it easy to see, respond to and manage your conversations all in one place. You can mark a conversation as priority to give it preference so you never miss an important message. These key conversations show up on your always-on display and can even “break through” a Do Not Disturb setting," Burke says.

Android 11 also introduces Bubbles, a new feature to help users respond and engage with important conversations without switching back and forth between current tasks and the messaging app. Users can open a bubble for their conversation right from the notification and multitask.

New ways to control connected devices and media are also featured on the update.

"As the world around us becomes more connected with ambient computing, Android 11 is helping you better manage all of your connected devices," Burke says.

"You can now quickly access and control your smart devices in one place by long pressing on the power button. Adjusting the temperature, turning on the lights or unlocking the front door can now be done with a tap without opening multiple apps," he says.

"We’re also introducing new media controls in Android 11, making it quick and convenient to switch the device your audio or video content is playing on. It is now easier to bring your music with you from your headphones, to speakers, or even to your TV."

Additionally, the new release introduces more privacy improvements.

With one-time permissions, users can grant apps access to their microphone, camera or location, just that one time. If a user has not used an app for an extended period of time, Android 11 will “auto-reset” all of the permissions and notify the user.

"Every Android release has new privacy and security controls that let you decide how and when data on your device is shared. Android 11 has even more granular controls for the most sensitive permissions," says Burke.

Android 11 Beta is available on Pixel 2+ phones now and other devices in the coming weeks.