The first beta version of Android 11 has been launched unexpectedly. with the update, we get a new Bubbles notification system for messages, new media controls, and smart homes.
Android 11 Beta
After months of developer previews, Google has now released a Beta aimed at a wider audience of Android enthusiasts. Google originally wanted to kick off the first beta with a Beta Launch Show, but it has been postponed due to the turmoil in the US. Subsequently, the Beta update also leaked to a limited number of devices. Now Google has still opened its doors wide for the update and we discuss what’s new.
The Bubbles feature appeared in last year’s Android Q preview versions, but Google eventually put the idea in the fridge for this year’s Android 11 update. The feature has been back since the very first Developer Preview.
Message notifications are now intended to appear in small bubbles that appear on the screen in an overlay. If you tap on a Bubble, you will get a preview of your conversation in which you can answer immediately, so that you respond faster than when you have to open the app.
The Bubbles are very reminiscent of what we already know from the chat leads in Facebook Messenger, but Google is now letting developers get to work with them so that they can run their messaging apps with the new system. When we see how much attention Google is paying to the Bubbles this year, we are pretty confident that this feature will now reach the stable version.
2. Media control in quick settings
It had already been accidentally leaked and there were indications before, but the media controls in Android 11 are now really moving to the quick settings. The buttons that control your music and podcasts have always been part of your stream of notifications, but now they’re getting a more prominent place at the very top of the notifications screen.
When you swipe down from the home screen, you get a small view with media buttons that let you browse playlists or pause. If you swipe down the quick settings, you get a more extensive menu with buttons, and depending on the media app, you can like music in Spotify, for example, or fast-forward in a podcast for 30 seconds. If you pause music and listen to a podcast at the same time, you can swipe left and right from the quick settings to view the different control menus.
3. Smart home control
In a conversation with Google, the company once told us that smart, connected devices are only really smart if they all work together with one platform and way of serving them all. Google ensures that you no longer have to dive into the Google Home app to find all your smart devices.
If you now hold the power button, you will see at a glance all your smart devices that you can operate immediately. Tech largest could already look extensively at that new operation and you can read all about it here.
4. Voice Access understands screen context
For users who have difficulty controlling their screen with the touchscreen, there is Voice Access with which you can operate your phone hands-free with your voice. Previously, Google showed numbers on the various buttons on the screen, so you could say which button you want to use, but Google is now introducing important improvements.
Voice Access now understands much better what is happening on the screen and it understands the name of buttons, actions you want to perform, or the name of apps on your phone. This makes the operation for users a lot smoother than before.
5. App suggestions in Pixel Launcher
This feature is especially for Pixel phones and Android One devices using the Pixel Launcher. Google will now place apps in the application dock at the bottom of your home screen in empty places, depending on the situation.
Google predicts which app you want to use at what time of the day and then shows them in the dock. The function had already been leaked before and you can read more about it here.
6. Privacy features
With every new Android version, Google does give us more control over how apps handle permissions, and that’s no different in Android 11 either. On Android 10, we were already able to grant apps permission to a device feature when they are used, but now we can also grant an app one-time permission.
Sometimes you have apps on your phone that you don’t use for a while. If you don’t delete them, they have until recently kept their permissions, for example, a gallery app will continue to access your photos and videos. Google is now changing that, because if you have not used an app for months, then the rights of that app also reset.
If you open the gallery app again after months, you have to give them access to your photos again. By default, the automatic reset of permissions is active with apps, but apps can also ask users for permission to disable the automatic reset
7. minor improvements
Not every novelty is, of course, the same size, which is why we list a number of smaller optimizations and improvements below:
> The icons in the settings are better adapted for those who use the system-wide dark mode on their device. The round icons still have a colorful background, but they are now colored black instead of white
> Dark mode also gets improvements on the home screen. If you long-press an app to perform a quick action you will now see a dark gray bar at the top of a pop-up menu
> The appearance of media buttons on the lock screen has changed. You will now see the larger and clearer text of the media being played and the corresponding image with the media will now also be displayed more clearly.
> If you swipe down from the home screen to open the notification screen, you will see a new animation zooming in on your background.
> Manufacturers are required to get started with seamless updates on their phones
> Google applies stricter rules for apps that run in the background and want access to your location.
Android 11 timeline
In this article, we explain how to get started with the Android first Android 11 Beta. Now that Android 11 is now available to a larger group of users with the first beta, we can expect two more beta releases starting in July. Only then do we head for the stable update. Check out the Android 11 timeline below for more information.
Which improvements appeal to you the most in this first Android 11 Beta? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this article.
Android 11 timeline
– February 19, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 1
– March 4, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 1.1
– March 19, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 2
– April 2, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 2.1
– April 24, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 3
– May 6, 2020: Android 11 Developer Preview 4
– June 11, 2020: Android 11 first beta
– June -> July 2020: Android 11 second beta
– July -> August 2020: Android 11 third beta (release candidate)
– third quarter 2020: launch of the stable version of Android 11