Android 11 is now available, here's what's new

nanoguy

Posts: 567   +8
Staff member
The big picture: Android 11 isn't packed with new features, and that's a good thing -- Google just made the existing ones more prominent and easier to use. Android phone makers are finally making a true effort with timely updates for select devices, but that won't solve the fragmentation problem anytime soon, and Android still needs optimizations to work better on tablets.

Google has started rolling out Android 11 to the general public after several months of beta testing. The latest update to the operating system will become available first on Pixel devices ranging from the Pixel 2 to the new Pixel 4A, which is the new budget camera quality leader with a starting price of $350.

The latest build of Android 11 is also landing as a beta on more devices such as Xiaomi's Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro smartphones, the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, the Realme X50 Pro, and Oppo's Reno 3, Find X2, and Find X2 Pro phones. Google says we can expect more manufacturers to make Android 11 available in the coming months.

Features

With Android 11, Google mainly sought to make the complex feature set already present on Android more prominent and easier to use. For instance, the small bubble avatars that float on the screen allow you to navigate in and out of chats more easily and there's a dedicated section for messaging apps at the very top of the notification shade.

For priority conversations, people of your choosing can now break through your Do Not Disturb settings.

You also get quick access to all your smart home devices connected to Google Assistant with the same power menu that used to bring up credit and reward cards. That means you can long press the power button instead of opening several different apps to control your thermostat, lights, or smart locks.

The notification shade has gained universal media controls in the notification toggle section, which solves one of Android's biggest annoyances. The lock screen media player has few cosmetic changes, the most noticeable is the removal of the album art when music is playing. The sound control pop-up is more compact and you can now set where the sound output goes.

Another annoyance on Android has been the 4 GB file limit for video recordings, now removed, so you can shoot videos until your phone catches fire runs out of storage space or battery power.

If you happen to own one of over 500 compatible cars, Android Auto now works wirelessly with any smartphone running Android 11. If you have an older car, there's always Sony's massive 9-inch touch display, even if it's a pricey bit of kit.

A built-in screen recorder has been added for those of you who have been waiting for a native solution, and the Recents panel allows you to select text or take a screenshot using dedicated buttons.

Security and System Updates

Android 11 isn't just about UI changes, though. Google is following in Apple's footsteps by locking down permissions so that they're much more difficult to abuse for data harvesting purposes. Now applications will ask you every time they need permission to access to your microphone, camera, or location -- with the choice of whether to grant that permission once or every time the app is in use.

Granting an app to continuous access now requires you to go into the phone settings to set that behavior, as Google wants you to be absolutely sure about that decision. Furthermore, if you stop using an app for a long time, the app's permissions will be automatically reset and upon opening it you'll be asked again to decide on the level of access you are willing to give it moving forward.

If you're using a company-provided Android phone, Google designed Android 11 with some added protections that ensure a separation between work and personal data, making the latter off-limits for IT admins. Accessibility is also improved with Voice Access understanding screen content and context better, as well as generating labels and access points for voice commands.

Android 11 brings many other smaller changes, but these will be the most noticeable of them all. More importantly, Google is finally getting more Android manufacturers on board with the idea of timely updates.

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Nobina

Posts: 2,625   +2,253
Google makes Android phones seem obsolete by releasing new Android versions every year even though they're just incremental updates. Manufactures can't keep up updating every phone and so most phones today don't even have Android 10.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,407   +5,853
Android was a LOT better before Google acquired them and will be even better still the day another competitor introduces a better replacement .....how about a Linux based phone, now that would be seriously interesting .....
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,367   +2,254
Android was a LOT better before Google acquired them and will be even better still the day another competitor introduces a better replacement .....how about a Linux based phone, now that would be seriously interesting .....
Or how about iOS?
 

fl21289

Posts: 111   +99
Android was a LOT better before Google acquired them and will be even better still the day another competitor introduces a better replacement .....how about a Linux based phone, now that would be seriously interesting .....
What??? lol. Google was one of the main supporters in developing this OS. Also android is ran on the linux kernel lol...

As for your last comment... you haven't heard of Plasma Mobile, PostMarket or Ubuntu Touch???? All these are pure Linux OS for phones... smh what people don't know...
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,367   +2,254
It's not an Android replacement though, you can only get it from Apple on only Apple hardware.

If I could get iOS on my OnePlus though, that would be a game changer.
I was being facetious... but it's not like you can put Android on an iPhone (although some old ones could run it if jailbroken, I'm not counting that).
Smartphones nowadays pretty much only come with one OS option... so getting an "Android alternative" means you need a different phone - may as well go iPhone if you don't like Android :)
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,492   +1,766
It's by design... release a new version of the OS, with MINIMAL new features, slap some new colors and what not. Then, when a non tech savy consumer calls, texts, or whatever why my phone isn't getting the software update, they can say, well, the phone is too old, can't handle the new os bla bla bla, to talk you into buying another over expensive phone.
Marketing...101
 
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Burty117

Posts: 3,828   +1,698
It's a shame Nokia got bought out by Microsoft then abandoned, I actually quite liked Symbian OS back in the day. I wonder if Nokia would have continued to develop it had Microsoft not got involved?
 
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CPO2U

Posts: 58   +24
Interesting... even if many (most) of the phones on the market AS OF TODAY will never see it, as usual
Yup. I think we should just all get used to the idea of getting a smartphone that's already "outdated" but works perfectly fine for us normal users, then upgrading several years LATER when our existing smartphone can no longer keep up with modern workflow/usage demands.
 

Aryassen

Posts: 61   +61
Yaaay, yet another "major" release for Android, with so many new "features". Oh joy of joys, how much I have been waiting for this...not.

All it means that now I'm behind current offering with one more additional generation. Android 11 brings nothing (and I mean, nothing) to my phone or tablet which would make feel even remotely motivated to change (the OS, or more realistically the devices I have (still running on 6.x and 7.x)).

The way is now paved for even more segmentation, meaning even less hope for any security update for existing devices (and for the same reason I'm not sure if I ever will use my mobile devices for anything sensitive).
 

Nestea

Posts: 38   +6
Android was a LOT better before Google acquired them and will be even better still the day another competitor introduces a better replacement .....how about a Linux based phone, now that would be seriously interesting .....
pinephone
 
Google can update the android software until the cows come home, but until Samsung allows call recordings to work again, it really doesn't interest me. Maybe I should trade in the Samsung and buy a Huawei. I'm sure they won't mind me having a recording app on my phone.
 

SNGX1275

Posts: 10,582   +446
Google can update the android software until the cows come home, but until Samsung allows call recordings to work again, it really doesn't interest me. Maybe I should trade in the Samsung and buy a Huawei. I'm sure they won't mind me having a recording app on my phone.
They (Huawei) are already recording your calls anyway, so nbd đŸ˜†
 
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MaxSmarties

Posts: 379   +197
God help us. There'd be no apps, listing your contacts would probably require you to type a command like cut -d: -f1 /etc/passwd and it would probably ask you to reload new drivers each time I passed a new mobile mast.
This. :D