Something to look forward to: Owners of Pixel handsets from the Pixel 2 onwards can now download the Android 11 beta, giving them an early preview of what’s to come in Google’s next OS. With Google I/O one of the many events canceled because of Covid-19, and the online-only June 3 unveiling postponed due to the Black Lives Matter protests, the Android 11 beta launch has been a subdued affair.
Those who maintain multiple conversations across several apps will appreciate the new way Android deals with conversations. In the Android 11 beta, there's a dedicated section in the drop-down notification bar for these messages. Users can mark conversations as a priority to give them preference, and they will show up on the always-on display and can even be set to bypass a ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting.
If you’re a fan of the floating bubbles used by Facebook Messenger, you’ll be pleased to learn that this same feature can be used for conversations in other apps, allowing you to chat with someone without having to jump between applications.
Elsewhere, Gboard users will find more relevant and accurate autofill suggestions for both text and emoji, thanks to the secure on-device intelligence that utilizes Federated Learning.
Android 11 beta also brings improved media controls that make it much quicker and easier to select devices for outputting music, be it headphones, speakers, or a TV. There are also more options for controlling your music in the notifications shade, including resuming playlists straight from the menu without having to reopen an app, and even switching between apps based on the order they were last played.
Those with multiple smart home devices could benefit from the Android 11 beta. Rather than trawling through multiple apps or having to go to the Google Home app, all device controls can be accessed by long-pressing the power button. This hub area not only lets you control the temperature, operate lights, etc., it also shows other things you might need in a hurry, such as payment methods and a boarding pass.
Android 11 beta also introduces new privacy and security options. These include being able to grant apps one-time permissions for them to access your microphone, camera, or location, rather than allowing permanent access. Additionally, apps that haven’t been used for a long time will have their permissions automatically reset, and you’ll get a notification informing you which ones have been affected.
If you do have a Pixel 2 or later (sorry, original Pixel owners), you can download the Android 11 beta here. Google says it will be available to other devices in the coming weeks. And remember that it is a beta, so expect bugs.