02 July 2020
Google has quietly released Android 11 Beta for eligible Pixel devices. It had plans to showcase the first public beta during a live stream on June 3rd but due to the current unrest situation in the United States, it decided to postpone the release. After a week, it has now made much-awaited beta build available for anyone with a compatible device to try out.
Starting with what's new, Google has focused on making conversations easier with Android 11. The notification panel will now group all notifications from messaging apps together. It should help users keep an eye on all the conversations in one go without having to browse through all the notifications. If there is any conversation that you do not want to miss, you can tap and hold on its notification and set it to "Priority". This will move it to the top of the group, make it visible on the Always On Display, and bypass DND settings.
Bubbles is another conversational feature that will users handle multiple conversations in an efficient manner. It is similar to how Facebook Messenger chat bubbles work. Any conversation can be transformed into a "bubble" directly from the notification panel and once it is done, the user can easily switch among multiple bubbles.
Google's own Gboard keyboard app will show relevant text and emoji suggestions on Android 11. These suggestions will be offered automatically as the user will be typing the conversation. It claims that the team will never get to see what the user is typing to maintain privacy.
If you are someone who also uses smart home products, Android 11 has a dedicated space for you to control and manage all of them. It can be accessed by long-pressing the power button and is available next to the existing restart and power options. It offers shortcuts for controlling all connected devices without having to switch between companion apps. It will also show relevant information like the boarding pass as and when flights will start operating.
The team has further tweaked media controls to quickly switch between the devices to choose which device should play the content. It means if you are listening on your Bluetooth earphones but wants to switch to your TV or smart home speaker, it can now be done easily. Privacy options have also received improvement as one-time permission has been introduced. If an app has been left unused for a long period of time, Android will automatically reset its granted permissions and will also alert the user about the same.
Android 11 Beta is currently available only for Pixel devices. These include Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 2 XL, and Pixel 2. If you have any of these devices, you can visit the official Android beta website to download relevant update files and get started. If you were already using the Android 11 Developer Preview, you will receive the beta update over the air.