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Android 11 beta: all the announcements

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Android 11 is on the way, bringing a bunch of new changes and features for phones and tablets. Google originally planned to release the beta during a reveal event on June 3rd, but the company delayed and ultimately canceled the event in favor of a quieter announcement. The public beta was released a week later, following a developer preview that was launched in February.

The 11th major Android update includes some big features, including a new notification interface for text messages, better 5G support, and improved privacy features. The update also adds better support for foldable smartphones, optimizing for the growing device category, and a new power button menu with quick access to payment options and smart home controls.

  • Jon Porter

    Jul 8, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Android 11’s latest beta is all about stability

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Today marks the release of Android 11’s second public beta, the latest test version of the operating system that’s officially due to release in the third quarter of this year. With this latest update, Google says it has achieved its new “Platform Stability” milestone — meaning, from the perspective of app developers, the operating system shouldn’t change much between now and its final release. Google hasn’t announced any new user features as part of its latest beta.

    Platform stability means that developers can start working on their final Android 11 compatibility updates without having to worry about the platform changing between now and the final release. According to Google’s official release timeline for Android 11, the company has plans for one more beta version next month, which it intends to be a release candidate build, ahead of Android 11’s final release. According to a recent presentation from Google, this final release could be coming on September 8th.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    Jun 10, 2020

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Five new features Android 11 borrows from the iPhone

    Android 11’s first public beta has arrived today, and it brings a bunch of big new features to Google’s operating system — including a few that should look pretty familiar to iOS users who have had similar functionality for some time.

    It’s the eternal cycle of software platforms: Apple’s good ideas will almost always end up on Android at some point, even as the next version of iOS will, no doubt, crib some ideas from Android.

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  • Cameron Faulkner

    Jun 10, 2020

    Cameron Faulkner

    How to install the Android 11 public beta

    Android 11’s developer preview phase has been kicking around for the past few months, but now it’s in public beta. My colleague Dieter Bohn got an in-depth look at what’s new. If you’ve got an eligible device, like a Pixel 2 or newer (phones from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo Vivo, Sharp, Realme, and Transsion will join the ranks in the next several weeks), you can have a look, too. What’s more, you no longer have to go through the tricky, fail-prone task of flashing your phone or the Android Flash Tool method. Instead, you can easily enroll it to receive the update with a few clicks, and in just a few minutes, you’ll be ready to install it on your phone.

    Below, we’ll walk through the steps for getting the Android 11 beta on your device, and in doing so, you’ll be set to receive all future updates to the OS (including the final release) over the air, which is convenient. It’s important to realize that, while open to the public, this beta is unfinished software meant primarily for developers testing their apps. As such, it’s not as polished as it will be later in the year when Android 11 launches. It also might cause unexpected issues with your phone, ranging from app malfunctions and a downturn in battery performance to worse issues like data loss. So, make sure that your device data is backed up on the cloud, and proceed with caution.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Jun 10, 2020

    Dieter Bohn

    Android 11: conversations, bubbles, and making sense of complexity

    Today, Google is releasing the Android 11 beta for Pixel phones. It features a revamped notification system, a new power menu, and dozens of smaller tweaks. I’ve been using an early version of it provided to me by Google on my Pixel 4 XL for about a week now, and I’m already depending on some of its new features.

    Android is a “mature” operating system, which is to say there aren’t a lot of obvious missing features. You might say that mature smartphone operating systems like Android and iOS have the opposite problem: too many features. So Android 11 doesn’t add a lot of new capabilities; instead, it tries to help you handle all of the things your phone already does. The job of a mature operating system is to manage complexity.

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  • Jon Porter

    Jun 2, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Android 11’s first beta lands early for some Pixel owners

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Some Google Pixel owners have received the Android 11 Beta early, revealing yet more details about this year’s version of Android. In a tweet, Mishaal Rahman from XDA Developers said that two Pixel 4 XL users reported having received the update, revealing new details about Android 11 features like the power button menu, three new icon shapes, and auto-generated app suggestions in the home screen dock.

    Google planned to announce the Android 11 beta on June 3rd but decided to delay the launch. “Now is not the time to celebrate,” the company said without linking it directly to national protests about police violence that have since gone global. The company is yet to set a new date for the announcement, so it’s unclear when this beta software may be more widely available.

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  • Jon Porter

    Jun 1, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Android 11’s power button menu leaks, showing new smart home Quick Controls

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Images from leaked developer documentation have just given us our best look yet at Android 11’s new power button menu. The menu can include a series of new smart home shortcuts called “Quick Controls,” which can control everything from smart lights to locks and thermostats, alongside payment options and the standard “Power off” and “Restart” buttons. The images were tweeted out by Mishaal Rahman from XDA-Developers, who credits Twitter user @deletescape as the source of the leaked documents containing the images.

    We’ve known about these shortcuts since at least March when XDA-Developers reported on their existence, but these latest screenshots give us a better idea of how the overall menu will look. The existing “Power off,” “Restart,” “Screenshot,” and “Emergency” buttons have been relocated to the top of the screen above a shortcut to Google Pay, similar to the one that was added to the Google Pixel back in March.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    May 30, 2020

    Dieter Bohn

    Google delays the Android 11 Beta announcement as protests roil US cities

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Google had been planning to unveil new features coming in Android 11 on June 3rd, but it has decided to delay the unveiling. In a tweet on Friday evening, Android’s developer account said that “We are excited to tell you more about Android 11, but now is not the time to celebrate.” Google says that it will “be back with more on Android 11, soon,” but did not say when that might be.

    Although Google doesn’t explicitly say why, the reason is very clear. The announcement comes as many American cities are filled with protests, looting, and fires. The response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota has extended well beyond the conflict in Minneapolis. The Bay area where Google and most of its employees are based has seen major conflicts in both San Jose and Oakland the evening when Google made the call its event. It’s a brutal night here in the Bay area.

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  • Jon Porter

    May 6, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Android 11’s public beta to launch with June 3rd live stream

    Google will announce the first public beta for Android 11 in a live stream at 11AM ET on June 3rd, according to a promotional video spotted by Android Police. Google has since officially announced the live stream over on its developer site. The search giant typically debuts Android’s latest public beta in May each year, but the difference in 2020 is that its developer conference, Google I/O, had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Google is promising that the live stream will have “news, updates, and announcements” on “connectivity, controls, safety, security, productivity, accessibility” and more. From the early developer previews, it appears as though Google is working on improving app permissions in its new version of Android as well as finally adding a screen recording feature.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Mar 18, 2020

    Dieter Bohn

    Android 11 Developer Preview 2 is out with support for call screening, hinge angle detection, and more

    The upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo, which would benefit from the new features.
    The upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo, which would benefit from the new features.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Almost exactly a month after it released the first Developer Preview for Android 11, Google is releasing the second one. As it’s a developer preview, it’s not designed to be a public beta, nor does it include all of the features we’re expecting in Android 11, but there are a few new things to talk about.

    At the top of that list is an API that allows a foldable to tell apps what angle the hinge is bent at. That could make it easier for devices like Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Duo to change their screen state if the company adopts it. More generally, the ability for Android devices to show different things depending on where the hinges are is becoming a more important feature, and it ought to be handled at the system level. Other devices like Samsung’s Z Flip and Galaxy Fold will also benefit.

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  • Mar 2, 2020

    Taylor Lyles

    Android 11 can tell you when your Pixel 4 isn’t placed correctly on a wireless charger

    Photo by Avery White for The Verge

    Google is reportedly adding a useful new feature in Android 11, which will let you know when your phone isn’t properly aligned on a wireless charging pad. The feature is the latest new trick discovered in Android 11 after Google released the first developer preview last month. Other new features have already been found ahead of Android 11’s full release later this year. The charging notification was first spotted by Reddit user jotafett and was reported on by 9to5Google.

    9to5Google’s tests found that this feature works only on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL right now, with no success when tested on a Pixel 3 XL running Android 11. Given that the beta is in such early stages and the list of devices it can be installed on is rather limited, it’s not clear whether this will be limited to just Google’s newest phones or if it’ll be available to older devices as well.

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  • Jon Porter

    Feb 21, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Google is cracking down on Android apps that track your location in the background

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Google is placing new restrictions on which Android apps can track your location in the background, with a new review process that will check whether an app definitely needs access to the data. The changes were announced in a blog post to Android developers earlier this week. Google says that from August 3rd all new Google Play apps that ask for background access will need to pass review, expanding to all existing apps on November 3rd.

    Although location tracking is an essential feature for many apps and services, it can be pretty invasive when apps indiscriminately ask for location access. Background tracking is even worse, because it means that you might be completely unaware of which apps on your phone are tracking you at any moment in time. The new review process will force apps to justify why they need to use the feature, and have them limit their tracking when they can’t.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Feb 20, 2020

    Dieter Bohn

    Android 11 will fix dozens of small annoyances, but what about the apps?

    Yesterday, Google released a developer preview of the next version of Android, which is called “Android 11” instead of “Android R” for simplicity (and because Google hates desserts now, that’s canon). It’s earlier than Google has ever released a version of Android, and as I noted in my story on the release I think that’s because there are a lot of changes that Android developers will have to contend with.

    If you are not a developer, here is a good list of the most interesting new Android 11 features so far from Chaim Gartenberg, who also made a video overview. As he notes, this is very much a “developer preview” and not a “beta,” which means that it’s harder to install, wipes your device of its data, and is primarily designed for devs to test new features.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    Feb 20, 2020

    Chaim Gartenberg

    The most interesting new Android 11 features so far

    Google has released the first developer preview for Android 11, the next version of its mobile operating system. It’s the earliest Google has ever done a preview like this, so the updates here aren’t that front-facing, but Google’s making some big promises, like improved support for 5G, better privacy features, and new messaging interfaces.

    Also: this is really, really a preview meant for developers only — it’s just for the Pixel 2, 3, 3A, or 4, and it can only be installed with a full flash that will wipe all your data. In other words, you shouldn’t install this on your main device, unless you like using a busted phone. 

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Feb 19, 2020

    Dieter Bohn

    Google releases Android 11 developer preview earlier than expected

    Typically, Google releases a preview of the upcoming version of Android sometime in March. This year, it’s doing it earlier than ever with the release of the first developer preview of Android 11 for Pixel phones.

    The emphasis this year is on the developer part of the developer preview, as it doesn’t seem as though there will be major UI or UX changes in this early iteration. (Those will likely come at the Google I/O conference in May.) Because it’s so developer-focused, you’ll need to manually flash a full system image onto your Pixel 2, 3, 3A, or 4 in order to test it out.

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