Android 11: What’s New And Improved
Tammy Slaughter wrote this article
Android 11 is finally here, and there are definitely some updates for users to celebrate — even if the new OS seems an awful lot like its predecessor, Android 10.
Available for the Pixel phone from day one as usual, Google also released Android 11 in early September 2020 for select handsets from OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme. If you have a phone from Samsung, Motorola, or most other companies, you’ll be waiting a few more months before Android 11 arrives on your device.
The reality is, Android no longer needs massive overhauls each year. The core Android experience in 2020 is really darn good, and Android 11 takes it up another few notches.
From conversation updates and streamlined notification settings, all the way to the redesigned power button menu, this most recent update adds a ton of improvements for Android users.
Power to Manage Notifications Like Never Before
With three updated sections for organizing notifications, Android 11 seeks to streamline communication one step further.
Conversations – The hub for all of your conversations, including texts, emails and in-app notifications, the new Conversations section gives users the power to prioritize their daily communications, with interactions from your most important contacts or daily apps featured up front.
Alerting – Any notifications you send to the Alerting section by simply ‘long-pressing’ over it will emit a sound and vibration to get your attention moving forward, just like with Android 10.
Silent – Silent reveals the notification quietly, without any sound or vibration. This is where your lowest priority notifications will be housed (as with Android 10).
Android 11 also gives users the option to save each push notification sent to their devices over the past 24 hours. To turn on this new notification history feature, go to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Notifications > Notification history.
A cool side-effect of this Android 11 feature is that the history will show you every single notification that goes through your phone, even totally silent ones you never notice.
This is a pretty nifty way to bring any barely-used apps to light, so you can clear up precious device resources.
Now, here’s a quick summary of some of the other updates Android 11 brings in its wake.
Android 11 Is All About Improving Communication
Chat bubbles actually first appeared in Android 10. But for whatever reason, Google didn’t prioritize them and they faded into the background when the more stable version of the OS launched. With Android 11, chat bubbles are back with a vengeance, neatly syncing with any of your downloaded messaging apps to show up at the top of your screen unobtrusively whenever a message comes in..
A Native Screen-Recording Functionality (At Last)
There are a plethora of apps available on the Google Play Store that will record your screen. However, Android 11’s all-new native screen recorder is a welcome addition to the line up of new functionality. After all, this is now one less app you’ll need to download.
The Media Player Found A New Home
With the new Conversations section now taking center stage at the top of your notifications with Android 11, the media player needed to move. Google moved it up one notch to the ‘Quick Settings’ section. You can swipe it away just like you used to and you can even customize Android 11’s settings so the player automatically vanishes when you’ve stopped listening to your favorite music or podcast.
Built-In Smart Device Controls
Google’s added an all-new section in Android 11 granting users the ability to easily control their smart devices without needing to open an app! You can now hold down the power button to launch this new mini-assistant. At the top, you’ll spy the usual power features, but underneath, you’ll see a whole lot more. Android 11 will pre-populate this field with six of your devices, but you can add/remove devices as you see fit.
No more opening three separate apps to do all of the things!
Automate Dark Theme Scheduling
It was super exciting when Google finally introduced a native dark mode to Android 10. But users (and the devices themselves) lacked the ability to automate toggling between light and dark mode. Meanwhile, Android skins from other manufacturers allow users to control when and why dark mode should be activated. With Android 11, users can now schedule the dark theme using one of two different metrics: when the sun sets or rises, or a custom schedule.
App Pinning to the Share Sheet
At one point, even one of the top leads of Android admitted that Android’s sharing system was a mess. Thankfully, it’s about to get much more useful with Android 11. You can now pin apps to your share sheet in order to easily access them whenever you want to share something. In the image above, you can see the option to pin Chrome’s printing feature to the share sheet or even pin Chrome’s ability to send URLs to other devices.
Separate Device Profiles for Professional and Personal Use
With Android 11, you can have a personal profile and a work profile, with neither one having any effect on the other. This will allow users to swap from their work profile to their personal profile on the same device with confidence that their company’s IT department isn’t monitoring what they do there. Of course, there will still be lots of folks who will feel more comfortable carrying around that second smartphone. But, at least this new feature might sway some users to avoid that!
With increasingly more workers switching over to remote work, this will definitely come in handy.
Improvements On Device Security, Updates And More
Android 11 now gives users more control over privacy and device security than ever.
Android 10 gave us one-time permissions for select apps, so users can grant an app permissions all the time, only when they’re using the app, or not at all. This was a big step forward, but Android 11 now gives users even more control by allowing them to give permissions only for that specific session. Android 11 will now also “auto-reset” any permissions granted on apps you haven’t used in a while.
The latest version of Android is released annually by Google, with the latest Android security patch pushed out on a monthly-basis for users.
Both of these updates get funneled to your phone either by your carrier or equipment manufacturer, so, some phones get many updates very quickly, while others either get them much slower, or not at all.
To counteract this, Android 11 will now grant more authority related to updates to the Google Play Store. This allows Google to bypass carriers and OEMs entirely and push out certain updates to everyone. It still can’t issue the latest version of Android in this fashion or even the latest security patches. However, it can fix security holes with this method.
This is a good thing, as it will help keep Android phones much more secure and up-to-date, even if the device owner isn’t interested in downloading device updates on the regular.
All-in-all, this latest update from Google for Android users everywhere is all about streamlining device communication, and improving overall device usability. All of this bodes well for app creators, too.
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