The Android 11 beta has been out officially for exactly a week now, and these are the best features that the new software has to offer to users.
Not all features will be big, user-facing changes, but they're still useful nonetheless. They're definitely some of the best android features to date, and worth checking out if you have a Pixel device that you can install the Android 11 beta onto.
In the near future, you should be able to install the Android 11 beta software onto non-Pixel devices. But for now, you need a Pixel phone, and you need to be a part of the Android beta program.
Top 8 Best Android 11 beta features
There's lots of little changes in Android 11 that Google has shown off in the beta, at least in this version of it, and some of the best features are ones you may not think about.
Not all of the features will be as noticeable either. Which is another reason for putting together this list. As some of the features might be easy to skip over and go unnoticed.
Some of the features will also probably be more important to some users than others. But all of the deserve a little bit of attention. We may also update this list and swap some features out when the next version of the beta is released. As Google plans to release more than just this version.
Best Android 11 beta feature overall
Quick settings media controls
The brand-new media controls feature that places them in the quick settings menu is the best feature in the Android 11 beta thus far.
It makes accessing your controls extremely easy and without having to worry about the persistent notification media controls disappearing as they often can. Because they're notifications, they can be swiped away by accident which will then close out your media app.
With these new quick settings controls, that's not the case. The controls will stay there until you intentionally close out the app you're streaming from. Best of all is that they're at the very top of the panel. So when you pull down the quick settings menu it's one of the first things you'll see. When it's fully extended of course.
In these new controls there's also an ability to switch to different Bluetooth devices that your phone may be paired with at the same time. And, the new controls support multiple media playback cards.
In the beta this feature is called Media Resumption, and it needs to be turned on from the Developer Options menu in settings. Though, it should be in a less hidden spot in a final release of the software.
Best Android 11 beta feature for smart home device owners
Smart home access from the power menu
One of the best features of the Android 11 beta is definitely the new power menu. Specifically the device controls that have been added to it.
In the most recent version of Android 10, when you press and hold down the power button you'll get your cards and passes shown at the top of the screen. Along with the familiar options to restart your device, power it off, or take a screenshot.
In the first Android 11 beta, Google added the option to display controls for smart home devices. Such as light bulbs, the TV, the front door camera and more.
Using them does require some configuration. After setting everything up though, you no longer need to open up the relative apps to turn up the heat or turn down the lights. Simply tap your power button and have a small set of controls at your finger tips in a matter of seconds.
These are a quick and easy way to adjust the smart devices around your home. And Android 11 will be all the better for it.
Best Android 11 beta feature for conversationalists
This one is a little bit of a sticky situation as it's not quite available in the beta yet. That's because apps have to support the feature for it to be implemented. And right now the closes to that is Google's Messages app.
The chat bubbles feature is nothing new to the world of Android thanks to Facebook and some third-party applications.
But as a native feature it's never been part of Android as a whole. Not for stock Android. Android 11 changes that with the beta and allows communication apps to show the active conversations on top of all other apps in a bubble, making it one of the best features.
Why is it one of the best? Because it makes talking with your friends and family that much easier. Simply tap the bubble and open the active conversation, respond, and close it back out. All without having to exit your other app. The bubble stays readily available too.
That is unless you close it out entirely. Then it will remain out of view until another message is sent back to you.
Best Android 11 beta feature for multiple conversations
Conversation groups for the notification panel
Not everyone communicates through the same application. And if you're someone who talks a lot then you probably have multiple conversations going all of the time.
Some of your family might use Facebook Messenger. Some of your friends might use Telegram or WhatsApp. And people from work might use something like Slack or Google Chat.
The new conversation groups in the notification panel will take all of the notifications that come from communication apps and place them directly in their own little space. That way they're easier to identify and interact with if you have a lot of unchecked notifications.
Google also gave them a priority over other types of notifications. Meaning your conversations will always take precedent over any other notification that comes in and be listed as the top group.
Best Android 11 beta feature for making tutorials
The screen recorder
The screen recorder is back in Android 11 after having been slashed from the Android 10 feature lineup.
This is a great feature to have if you enjoy making tutorials for any reason whatsoever. Whether it's part of your job or you just like being able to show people how to do things should they ask for help.
One thing to keep in mind is that Google did remove this feature once before with the last version of Android. So there's no telling if it would decide to take it out again.
But for now, it's here and it's certainly usable. Even if it does come with a couple of bugs. To access it, extend the quick settings all the way, tap the edit button, and then find and drag the screen recorder setting into the active panel.
Best Android 11 beta feature for accessibility
Supercharged Voice Access features
Voice Access itself is not a feature baked into Android, but rather an app that can be installed on Android devices.
With Android 11, Voice Access gained a lot of improvements that will make it way better for anyone who might need it. Instead of just listing numbers on the screen next to everything you can interact with, Voice Access now understands the context of what's actually on your display.
So instead of saying the number 10 because it's listed next to the Twitter app, which would then launch it, you can just say launch Twitter and it will understand. Then launch Twitter as you requested. Further, you can tell it to tweet after you're in the app and it'll do that too.
It still has numbers next to everything, but that's no longer the only way you can interact with your phone by voice using the app. It's a whole lot smarter than before and it will certainly bring some ease of use in Android 11's final state.
Best Android 11 beta feature for style enthusiasts
The new customization options for the Always-On Display Clock
There aren't really a whole lot of new options for customization and style in Android 11. At least not in the first beta.
There is however at least one thing that stands out. The new customization options that you can find for the Always-On Display clock. In Android 11, if you press and hold down on the homescreen you can bring up the Styles and Wallpapers options.
In here you will now find a tab for the clock. Currently there appears to be only one style available. The default option. But presumably there will be more style choices in the final release of Android 11.
With more options to choose from, even for such a small thing, this will surely peak the interest of style hounds. Especially if you're always looking at the clock on your device through the Always-On Display.
Best Android 11 beta feature for heavy app users
App Suggestions in the Pixel Launcher dock
This is probably going to be an underrated feature for many users. Especially if they don't understand exactly how it works.
It's a brilliant idea though and it really lends itself well to anyone who uses a metric ton of different applications on their phone. App Suggestions in Android 11 works to place your most used apps in the dock. So the apps are consistently rotating and surfacing the apps you are using the most at that time. The feature also suggests apps that are part of your routines or that you used recently (even if you don't use them as often).
It doesn't remove the apps you have placed in the dock though. It will only suggest apps if you leave any spaces in the dock blank. This is great if your routines change. And if you're using a lot of apps, that's likely to happen, and probably more often than you'd think.