Typically with every single new version of Android, we get an early look at it and in the form of an alpha or beta release and we dig into it, find the coolest new features, and then share it with you guys. Now this year with Android 11 those earlier builds were honestly a little bit underwhelming like the alpha builds were not super feature-rich and they weren’t ready. But now that we’re getting towards that time of the year where we were supposed to have Google IO which is of course canceled, the beta builds that are coming out are a lot closer to final and there’s some good stuff in here. So we’re going to dive in and take a look now. Keep in mind Android as a whole is a lot more well-baked, more mature than it was a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago, a version update like this could be a whole visual overhaul. This isn’t a visual overhaul anymore. This is a lot more tweaking a lot more fine-tuning but there is still some cool stuff and some good features in here. So that’s what we’re going to take a look at.
Top 5 new features in Android 11
5. The updated pixel launcher. So this has been one of my favorite launchers, they have tweaked some stuff here. So first of all, they let me turn auto rotation on the home screen which correct me if I’m wrong that wasn’t enabled before so you can just turn your phone sideways like a tablet and just use it like that right away.
There’s now a new option for your bottom row of apps to be app suggestions. So basically it moves everything up a row and then that whole new bottom row is suggested apps based on learned behaviors and you can pin a suggested app down there if you think it should be there permanently and there’s also an option in settings to block an app from ever showing up there.
Then the app switcher is also a little bit different, huge cards still but now you get a screenshot, share and a select button at the bottom to select text within the app and you now lose the extra pull up to get into the app drawer and there are some small new animations for the home screen wallpaper.
4. A New Media controls up at the top of the notification panel alone aide some quick tiles. This is an option that’s actually not enabled by default. And I suspect that’s because it’s a bit buggy and incomplete but when you do go into the developer settings and enable it, it puts this little colorized media widget in the top of your quick settings pull down. I think this is sweet. It’s like an Android version of the iPhones Quick Settings media toggle. And since it’s at the top it means you never have to scroll very far to pause whatever music or podcast you’re listening to now. As I said, it is a bit buggy, but you can have more than one open at once, but it doesn’t yet work with every single media app, it doesn’t work with YouTube yet. And also sometimes the playback scrubber doesn’t work. But generally, I’m a big fan of this feature. You can also quickly toggle playback devices. So if you have headphones or speakers paired stuff like that, you can quickly get to that and the little mini player is colored to always match the album art of whatever you’re listening to. so again, very subtle, but that’s nice.
3. voice access or voice control.
basically, it’s an accessibility feature. So not everyone’s going to use it. But I feel like anything that improves accessibility on a phone this much could be used by anyone basically and when it gets this good it’s worth it. So here’s how it works. So the voice access feature itself is not new you can grab it from the Play Store. It shows up in the menus of your phone and when you enable it in this new Android beta.
it’s controlling the phone with your voice and the best Improvement here. Instead of just saying the number corresponding to what you want to press you can actually also just say the name of the action and it’s gotten really good at responding. fun-fact I also tried it on android 10 and it worked fine.
2. the power button hold which is usually just to turn off the phone or restart gets even more functionality. Now, I’m not sure why they chose the power button hold for this stuff. So now when you press and hold the power button instead of just getting shut down restart and screenshot you get all those things plus a shortcut to Google pay and whatever other cards and passes like boarding passes you have, which is not working right now in this beta and then also a bunch of smart home toggles and now again, I don’t know if putting them here in the power button long-press menu is what I expected or what most users will expect to find here, but I’m cool with it. side note. If you aren’t, you can go into the system settings under the power menu and take away the things that you don’t care about having here.
1. the biggest new change in yet Another Android update is a new notification shade. So in Android 11, the notifications get separated into three categories, there’s conversations, alerting notifications, and Silent notifications. So conversations are for messaging basically, so text messages, Twitter DMs, or any other massaging app.
then alerting notifications is basically all the standard stuff. That’s where you’d have them pile up normally.
then silent notifications are the ones that are persistently happening in the background, more background stuff like whether or Google Now cards, it also got these more jelly animations, they’re pretty sloppy actually at the moment in this beta but I think they can clean them up and they’ll look nice and that’s the real main change here.
There are also some other little things like you can do bubble notifications now, supported for messaging apps. you can turn it on and off in the settings and then there’s also a new fancy screen on and off animation. There’s a lot of little things definitely little things and that is it for Android 11. My favorite new feature of these is definitely the New Media controls up in the top nice little compact widget because I’m always listening to something music or podcast.
but I’m curious. Let me know in the comment section what your favorite feature of these five is. reach out to us on our social handles if you have a question.