Your Android phone is about to get a serious upgrade, here’s what Google has planned

Google has offered Android users a glimpse at the next major upgrade coming to their devices with the arrival of the first beta for Android 11. The Californian firm cancelled an online event to highlight some of the biggest new features coming to Android 11 earlier this month. Google said it didn’t want to pull focus from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations taking place across the globe with its new operating system.

Despite canning its event scheduled for June 3, Google has still pushed out the first beta to Pixel smartphone owners to test the features. Phones from other manufacturers could be compatible with the unfinished software soon. Ahead of the launch of Android 10 last year, select models from OnePlus, LG, and Sony were able to download the beta as well as Google’s own Pixel range of devices. So, it’s possible other devices will be able to get a taste of Android 11 in the coming weeks too.

Although an early version of Android 11 was rolled out to developers back in February, the latest update is available to anyone. It’s not recommended to install a beta version on your main smartphone – the software is notoriously unreliable as could leave you unable to make or receive an important call due to a glitch in the code.

The public beta for Android 11 has more features than the earlier developer release. That makes sense as teams at Google have had a few more months to toil away on the mobile operating system.

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Here are some of the new features available in Android 11~

  • Notifications from chat apps are now labelled in a Conversations portion of the notifications drop-down. Google says it’s employing a “people-forward design” – that means notification icons can now be set to be a contact’s photo, which is a nice visual. There are also conversation-specific actions, like opening your chat as a bubble, creating a conversation shortcut on the home screen, or setting a reminder.
  • Voice Access, for people who control their phone entirely by voice, now includes an on-device visual cortex that understands screen content and context, and generates labels and access points for accessibility commands.
  • Device Controls make it faster and easier than ever for users to access and control their smart lightbulbs, heating and other connected devices in the home. Now, by long-pressing the power button (yes, as if you’re switching off the handset) you’ll be able to bring up device controls instantly, and in one place. Apps can use a new API to appear in the controls.

  • Media Controls make it quick and convenient for users to switch the output device for their audio or video content, whether it be headphones, speakers or even their TV. These can be found in the Quick Settings portion of the menu.
  • One-time permission lets users give an app access to the device microphone, camera, or location, just that one time. The app can request permissions again the next time the app is used.
  • Permissions auto-reset: if you haven’t used an app for an extended period of time, Android 11 will “auto-reset” all of the runtime permissions associated with the app and notify the user. The app can request the permissions again the next time the app is used.
  • Google Play System Updates, which was last year, allows Google to expedite updates of core operating system components to devices in the Android ecosystem. In Android 11, Google has doubled the number of updatable modules, and those 12 new modules will help improve privacy, security, and consistency for users and developers.

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