Google has unexpectedly removed the redesigned Android 11 media controls with today's launch of Beta 2. That's based on preliminary reports stemming from internal tests and users. The indication is that at least some users are no longer seeing the option to use the new controls at all. It isn't immediately clear why that's the case.
The redesigned feature was intended to ensure a cleaner look and better interactions in the upcoming firmware update. Chiefly those centered around how the playback control buttons are presented to users and how those were interacted with. Now, that UI appears to be gone entirely — arguably taking with it one of the best incoming adjustments in Android 11.
What are media controls are the users in question seeing with Android 11 Beta 2?
With Android 10's arrangement, media controls are shown in a notification. Separate notifications are presented for each app that's playing media. In some cases, such as with Chrome media playback, separate notification cards are shown for individual tabs.
That means extra scrolling and widely unwanted clutter in the notification shade once it's pulled down.
With the new media controls in Android 11 Beta 1, those notifications had been reworked in dramatic fashion. Rather than showcasing things separately, Google pushed all of those notifications under a single card. That card was swipeable, with a series of dots to denote which card users were currently viewing. So users could easily navigate through the cards with a gesture and they didn't take up too much space.
Google also had moved that media controls card to the top of the notification shade with Android 11 Beta 1. It resided just below the system-level Quick Tiles. That meant that users who swiped down to expand the shade subsequently put the controls toward the bottom of the UI — as shown in the images below. More importantly, that placed the controls on the expanded shade almost perfectly in line with where a user's thumb would be.
The new media control cards also incorporated a new pill-shaped button to denote where the media was playing. That was also clickable to pull up deeper controls such as those for volume.
Is this coming back or is it gone for good?
Now, for other users, the UI remains intact so the news isn't going to impact everybody. And that could mean that there were bugs on some devices that prevented them from working properly. Or that some OEMs simply won't be using the API associated with the new controls. In either case, it seems unlikely that the controls are gone for good since not every user has been forced onto the old UI.
For those that are still seeing the new media controls in Android 11 Beta 2, there have also been further adjustments made. The biggest of those is in the appearance of the card. Information and buttons have all been centered on the card now. Previously those were offset. That lent to a decidedly asymmetrical look that would undoubtedly have annoyed many users and broken from Android's increasingly refined aesthetic.
The cards themselves also no longer scroll. Instead, the content itself is scrolled, simplifying the look of the controls in motion and giving everything a more organized look.