Android 11 | The update we didn’t know we needed

Google with its Pixel event and launch of two new phones, started rolling out the latest Android 11 OS. Like always, the Pixel phones are the first ones in getting an update and the rest of the devices will get the updates based on their OEMs and how they optimize the new OS for their respective devices.

The update does not have many head-turning features like Android 10 but it sure does an amazing job in elevating the overall user experience. Like the message bubbles, new notification categories, limiting app permissions, among others.

So let’s explore these and the other new features of this update.

Categorized Notifications

A video showing user interface of Android 11

Android 11 will make your life easier by categorizing notifications into Conversations, Alerts, and Silent. This enables you to prioritize your ongoing conversations, be it on WhatsApp, Instagram, or similar messaging apps.

The other two categories keep all your notifications aligned with your needs. You are kept in the loop with the alerts you opt-in, such as news updates. You can mute the ones that nudge you a bit more than it needs to.

Furthermore, in line with keeping conversations more accessible, the ‘chat bubble’ makes a comeback this year. This works the same way as Facebook’s Messenger floating chat button and lets you reply quickly to your current conversations.

Built-in screen recorder

Photo of a phone lying down on table

A long awaited feature, in-built screen recording has finally found its way in this update. Screen recording was possible via third party apps, but there was always some restriction or modifications required for accessing the device’s internal audio settings.

What more, you get this functionality right in the Quick Settings menu. You are getting the option to record audio via microphone or use the device’s audio, record the screen taps or not, etc at last.

Changes in App Permissions

A screencap showing app permission dialogue in Android 11

The apps will now have one-time permission to your sensitive information like location, messages, contacts, etc with the help of the ‘While using the app’ option. Once you close an app, the permissions are revoked and need to be requested again.

Access to information all the time will not be present for a majority of the apps. And just in case you haven’t selected this option when you are not using an app for a longer duration, the permission gets ‘auto-reset’ and your data remains safe.

More options in Power Button Menu

Screenshot of Android 11 power button menu

The long press action on the power button now gives you smart device controls and GPay shortcut. One can add up to six devices for easier control. The need of opening separate apps for these devices gets eliminated here.

However, there is no compulsion put by Google on the device manufacturers to imply this feature. So we will have to wait to see how this plays out.

Media Controller Widget

Screenshot of Media controller Widget in Android 11 phone

The media controller is moved to the quick settings menu (from the notifications bar). This ensures that the ‘clear all’ action of notifications does not pause the song or podcast you are listening to. Plus you can go back to the media that you had paused earlier without opening the concerned app.

Other Notable Features

Apart from the ones we have already covered, here are a few more interesting features:

  • You can see notifications from the past 24 hours via history. So in case, you dismissed any notification accidentally, you can go through them again. However, this is not a default setting, so you would need to change that.
  • You can now resize the picture-in-picture window according to your convenience and avoid any obstruction with your work.
  • You can now schedule your dark mode. It can be set as per sunrise/ sunset or to your own time.
    ‘Dynamic Meterdness API’ will detect if you are on a 5G network and will then show you the best quality of videos, graphics, etc.
  • Google’s Voice Access will now be more conversational and simple for differently-abled users.
  • There are 117 new emojis from the Unicode Emoji 13.0 set.

Google has paid attention to many features that were long overdue in this update. Given that it will be rolled out a bit late for the majority of android users nonetheless we are excited about how it fares against the last version.

Our Android team is also excited about the possibilities that Android 11 brings to the eco-system and challenges that they can solve with the new functionalities. If you’re looking for Android development in Mobile, Wearables, TV, and other hardware, feel free to reach out us.


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