The Android 11 Beta release was postponed due to the other more important things happening in the US but today Google have decided to release it into the wild for all eligible Pixel phones. The Beta release gives developers a chance to make sure their apps function on the new version of Android and to also hopefully make use of some of the new features within the next version of Android.
The new Beta is still open for feedback and what you see in the Beta is not set in stone to arrive in the final Android 11 version. On their Blog announcement post Google have outlined some of the changes they want users to focus on with the key focus on people, controls and privacy.
Android 11 is set to move all of your communications “across multiple messaging apps” to its own dedicated space within the notification shade. This is meant to make it easier to see, respond to and manage your conversations in a single location.
We have seen Bubbles before but it has never made it this far in Android. Now in the Beta, Bubbles is another feature to help you respond to and engage in important conversations without having to switch back to the messaging app. Bubbles are opened from the right hand side of the notification shade.
Using Gboard in Android 11 will now give you automatic suggestions for emoji and text using “secure on-device intelligence” that takes advantage of Federated Learning. Being on-device it works without Google ever seeing anything that you have typed.
We have seen leaks of the new power button controls with the inclusion of the Wallet and smart controls. Now it is officially in the Beta with a long press of the power button bringing up your home control centre. You can control your home from here without having to go into the control app or Google Home.
As previously leaked payment methods, boarding passes and other things that usually go in a digital wallet are shown above the smart controls — although it is unclear just how things will be added in here, possibly by scraping your Google Pay and Gmail apps.
Android 11 Beta also brings new media controls to Android allowing you to switch the device your media is playing on a lot easier. The media controls sit below the quick settings tiles and pops out a new control section to allow the easy switch.
Google improve the privacy of Android with every new version and this one is no different with Android 11 Beta bringing with it “more granular controls for the most sensitive permissions”. There are also one-time permissions which allow you to grant apps access to your microphone, camera or location just that one single time. If that app requires it again in the future it will need you to grant it permission once again for access.
If you haven’t used an app for a while all permissions associated with it will “auto-reset” and once you then do use the app it will need your permissions once again.
But there is a lot more, go and check it out
There are a lot more features added to the new Android 11 Beta and we will attempt to cover some of them throughout the day. Expect to see new things such as a screen recorder, updated voice access, improved performance and a new share menu.
The Android 11 Beta is available now for all Pixel smartphones from Pixel 2 onwards. If you want to try it out for yourself head on over to the Beta website and register your device and opt in to the Beta. The OTA update should arrive on your device not long after. For those who prefer the old school way you can also manually flash the factory image or the OTA.