Android 11 is the latest version of Android to hit the majority of the world's smartphones. Google set the release of Android 11 for September 8, 2020.
With the release of Android 11, Google has introduced a number of new features. Some of which have been a long time coming for Android. Like Bubbles for Conversations.
Here's everything you need to know about the release of Android 11. From when it is going to be available, to what devices are getting the update, to the features that are coming with this latest version of Android.
When is Android 11 coming to my smartphone?
Android 11 will be available on all Pixel devices (Pixel 2 and newer) on the release date of September 8. It might take a bit longer to hit every single Pixel device, as Google tends to do a staggered roll out for these releases.
It will also come to select Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and realme phones on September 8. Other phones will get it a bit later on.
For the most part, if your phone was released in 2019 or later, you are pretty much guaranteed to get Android 11. The only question is when you'll get it. Normally, the newest phones get updated first. We may even see some 2018 smartphones get updated, like the Galaxy S9 series.
What's new in Android 11?
With the release of Android 11, Google is really focusing on conversations and messaging. And it is debuting a feature, that it actually talked about a couple of years ago. Which are bubbles. And yes, they are basically a straight up, rip off of Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads. Which Facebook has had in its app for many years now. But the different now is that most of your conversations, in different apps, are going to work with Bubbles. That's a big deal.
Media controls have been redesigned in Android 11 as well. So instead of them showing up as a notification in your notification shade, they are actually part of the quick settings section now. They look mostly the same, but they stay in your quick settings now. Which makes it easier to play/pause music, skip to the next song and so forth. On top of that, you can also switch where the music is playing – whether that is on device, on your headphones, speakers, or somewhere else.
Permissions are getting changes once again, in the release of Android 11. There are a couple of changes to permissions in Android 11. One, is the new one-time permission option. So you can opt to give the app access each time you open it. This means that an app won't be tracking your location all the time. Just every time you open the app. This can be quite annoying though, having to give it access every time. But worth the inconvenience.
The other change to permissions is going to be for apps you don't use often. If you haven't used an app recently, Google is going to automatically reset those permissions. So when you re-open the app, you'll need to give the app those permissions once again. This is also another way that Google is looking to protect your data and privacy.
There are many other changes in Android 11 as well, and you can check out the full feature list here.
How do I use Bubbles for my conversations?
As mentioned before, Bubbles are very similar to Chat Heads, from Facebook Messenger. And it's going to make multi-tasking so much easier, in Android 11.
You will be able to move the bubbles around on your home screen, and even flick them away if you wish to do so. The whole point of this is to allow you to respond to your friends and family, without needing to leave the app you are currently in.
There is going to be a new setting in Android 11, so you can set certain conversations to open up in Bubbles and others to open up in the app as normal. This will be found in Settings > Apps > [App Name] > Notifications and then tap on Bubbles to the see the screen above.
In addition to Bubbles, Google is making another change to conversations and it has to do with the notification shade. There's going to be a new section in your notification shade that will be specifically for conversations. So you can keep your conversations in one place. And it'll make dealing with your many notifications a lot easier.
What apps are compatible with Bubbles?
One of the downsides to enabling a new feature like Bubbles, is that developers need to add support within their app for it. Currently, Bubbles is not available within every messaging app right now. It's only available with a few of them. But that list is expected to grow, especially with the release of Android 11.
As of now, Google Messages, Discord, Facebook Messenger and Telegram support it.
How does 5G and Android 11 work together?
5G has been a big topic of 2020, though not quite as big as some other topics unfortunately. But it is on the way and it's going to make our lives a lot more enjoyable.
Android 11 is aiming to work better with 5G. But, most people likely won't notice the difference.
Google is introducing the "Dynamic Meterdness API" with the release of Android 11. Which is going to take full advantage of all that 5G power. Basically, the API detects that you are connected to an unlimited 5G signal, it'll allow you to access the highest possible quality for videos and graphics. So you can really take advantage of those Gigabit speeds.
Where can I download Android 11?
Typically, only Google releases Android 11 downloads for its own Pixel devices. So if you have a Pixel device, you can download the factory images here.
With the factory image, you won't need to wait for the OTA to hit your device. But beware, that when you do update your phone using the factory image, you will lose all of your data. So keep that in mind before you decide to go this route, and of course, make sure to back it all up.
Is the Android Beta Program closing?
Surprisingly, no. The Android Beta Program is not closing, just yet. Google is opting to keep it open and allow users to check out early Android 11 builds.
Now Google was a bit vague with this. So we are not sure if this means that it will be for the security patches, or even feature drops in the future. But if you enroll your device, you will get early OTAs, which is always awesome.
The r/android_beta sub-reddit is also remaining open, but the Android Beta issues tracker and the feedback app are closing in the next few days.