Android 11’s most necessary additions could also be extra about privateness than any front-facing flashiness, however the software program positive does have its share of serious surface-level enhancements.
I’ve been utilizing the brand new Android 11 Beta launch because it arrived final Wednesday. It’s our first actual have a look at Google’s finished (or at the very least close to-complete) imaginative and prescient for the subsequent Android model, and it has fairly just a few new small however impactful experience-enhancing parts. Some of ’em match into the three broad themes I coated in my most up-to-date e-newsletter, whereas others are simply scattered little treasures strewn all through the software program.
But all of ’em are belongings you would not essentially discover by yourself — and, in some circumstances, would not even see except you knew which out-of-the-way swap to flip.
Whether you are among the many adventurous explorers already attempting out Android 11 otherwise you’re protecting an analytical eye on it from a distance, these noteworthy new touches are worth contemplating and/or protecting in thoughts for the longer term.
(Of be aware: I would not counsel most individuals set up the Android 11 Beta at this level — particularly not on a main cellphone that is wanted for day-to-day productiveness. The software program is comparatively steady, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a beta-level launch that is unfinished and never supposed for broad, public use, and also you will run into occasional glitches and app compatibility points when utilizing it.)
Android 11 gem #1: Notification History
First up is a characteristic I’ve been longing to see in Android for ages: a built-in and person pleasant Notification History part. What’s current in Android 11 is not the full notification inbox idea I’d been envisioning, however hey, child steps, proper?
All quibbling apart, Android 11’s Notification History characteristic does precisely what you’d count on: It provides you a simple solution to look again at notifications you have dismissed and even work together with their contents as in the event that they have been nonetheless current. You can return so far as 24 hours — however there is a catch: The characteristic will not be current except you first discover and allow it.
To try this, open up the Apps & Notifications part of your system settings, faucet the road that claims “Notifications,” after which search for the brand new “Notification historical past” line on the prime of the display screen that comes up. Tap that, and you’ll activate a toggle to show the characteristic on.
And when you do, effectively, good golly, how ’bout that?
There she is! You can pull up your fancy new Notification History part anytime by in search of the “History” choice beneath your notifications.
So lengthy, accidental-swipe-away remorse!
Android 11 gem #2: Priority dialog alerts
One of Android 11’s most attention-grabbing changes is the way in which it emphasizes conversation-related notifications — placing all such alerts, no matter what messaging app they got here from, into their very own separate part on the prime of your notification panel. But there’s one other a part of that system that is fairly highly effective and helpful to have.
When you press and maintain any notification throughout the new Conversations part, you will see a one-touch choice for setting it as a “Priority” dialog:
Activating that choice will trigger any future alerts from that particular contact to look on the prime of your Conversations part — and, in a neat little contact, will even trigger that individual’s profile photograph to look as its personal separate icon throughout the standing bar on the prime of your display screen each time a notification from them is current.
Visual novelty apart, that basically does make it less difficult to see when one thing notably urgent — an incoming message out of your boss, an alert about your extra-large meatball sandwich being prepared for pickup, or regardless of the case could also be — is demanding your consideration.
Android 11 gem #3: Bubbles
As chances are you’ll or could not know by now, I’m very intrigued by Bubbles — a brand new multitasking system we first heard about in Android 10 and are simply now attending to expertise for the primary time. Well, nearly.
The thought behind Bubbles is to have a system-level interface for protecting necessary conversations (and maybe additionally finally different kinds of content material) on demand and available anytime by way of a small round icon that sits atop no matter else you are doing. Tap the icon, and the related dialog will seem in a floating window. Tap it once more, and it will get condensed again down into the bubble.
The downside, as of proper now, is that Bubbles requires apps to assist it in order to imply something — and to this point, finest I can inform, someplace between “hardly any” and “completely zero” apps really do. But that is sure to vary earlier than lengthy, by way of Google’s personal Messages app, if nothing else. (The official phrase from Google is that Messages ought to get Bubbles assist in its beta channel throughout the subsequent couple weeks after which extra broadly someday in the subsequent month or so.)
In the meantime, you may get your cellphone prepared for Bubbles by enabling the characteristic: Just head again into the Apps & Notifications part of your system settings, once more faucet “Notifications,” and this time, search for the road labeled “Bubbles.”
Tap that, then flip on the toggle to activate it.
You also can manually allow or disable any particular app’s potential to show a dialog right into a bubble by going again to the primary Apps & Notification display screen inside your system settings, tapping the “See all apps” line, then discovering and deciding on the app you need in the record. Once you are in the app’s settings display screen, faucet “Notifications” after which search for the “Bubbles” choice there.
Android 11 gem #4: Custom share pinning
This subsequent factor is an particularly tiny and trivial-seeming contact, however my goodness, am I ever excited to see it. It’s the return of a little-known, underappreciated choice from Android’s Nougat period that permits you to customise the system share menu — the record of choices that pops up if you hit the Share command from inside an app.
Android’s share menu is a helpful solution to transfer information from one app to a different, however the choices you utilize essentially the most typically aren’t on the prime of the record. Well, after eliminating the power to customise the order sooner or later alongside the way in which, Google is giving us again that energy. And I, for one, will gladly settle for it.
To take management of your system share menu in Android 11, simply share one thing from an app — for example, in Chrome, you would faucet the three-dot menu icon whereas viewing an internet web page after which choose Share — after which simply press and maintain your finger to any icon in the record that pops up and faucet the choice to pin it.
That’ll place the icon right into a particular part on the prime of your share menu, the place it will seem persistently it doesn’t matter what app you are sharing from (as long as the app is not annoyingly utilizing its personal customized share interface as a substitute of the system customary, that’s — grumble, grumble, grumble).
It was an superior hidden gem when it first confirmed up again in 2016, and it is simply as superior upon its revival in the present day.
Android 11 gem #5: A local display screen recorder
Ever end up needing to file one thing in your display screen — perhaps to point out another person a characteristic or to supply a distanced demo of some kind? Traditionally, you have wanted a third-party app on Android to perform that. As of Android 11, that is not the case.
This first beta features a new native display screen recording system, though — as soon as once more — it is up to you to seek out it.
The choice is tucked away in your Quick Settings part, so begin by swiping down from the highest of your display screen twice to open that space up — then faucet the tiny little pencil icon in the lower-left nook to edit it.
Once you have executed that, you need to have the ability to scroll down and discover an icon for “Screen Record” in the part of the display screen dedicated to inactive Quick Settings choices. Hold your finger onto its icon and drag it up into any spot you want throughout the energetic Quick Settings space, then again out of that modifying menu, and you need to have the ability to discover the icon precisely the place you plopped it:
All that is left is to faucet that sucker, and ta-da:
You may even decide to have the recorder seize audio by way of the cellphone’s mic, in case you need to narrate together with no matter you are exhibiting, and you’ll be able to have it make a visible mark on the display screen each time you contact anyplace in order for instance precisely what you are doing. (With the third-party recorder apps of yore, you’d should wade deep into Android’s developer choices in order to perform such a feat.)
Unfortunately, the system remains to be missing some display screen recorder fundamentals — like the power to edit what you recorded and to transform it into an animated GIF for simple sharing — nevertheless it’s a begin!
Android 11 gem #6: Smarter voice management
We’ve talked earlier than about how Android’s Voice Access system is extremely helpful, even if you happen to do not want it for accessibility functions — and with Android 11, the characteristic will get much more sensible and highly effective.
With previous Android variations, you would use Voice Access for fundamental app-opening and on-screen navigation. You may use it for getting round apps, too, however solely by saying the quantity it’d place on the display screen subsequent to selectable objects — effectual, positive, however not the best or most intuitive system.
Well, with Android 11 in place, you’ll be able to merely say the identify of any command on the display screen to have Voice Access activate it — no quantity referencing or complex-command-remembering required.
That’s clearly invaluable from an accessibility perspective, nevertheless it’s additionally only a quick and handy approach for anybody to do virtually something on a cellphone in a hands-free method. To expertise it, it is advisable to set up the Voice Access app after which observe the steps it provides you to activate it.
Android 11 gem #7: Dark mode scheduling
This subsequent one’s technically been obtainable on Pixel telephones for a short time now, because of an earlier Google “characteristic drop,” nevertheless it appears to be related to Android 11 as effectively (and even when you have a Pixel cellphone, there is a first rate probability you had no thought it was there, anyway — three cheers for hidden Pixel options!).
It’s one thing super-simple however super-effective: the power to schedule your system-wide darkish mode in order that it goes on and off robotically at sure instances. That approach, you would have your whole cellphone use a darker, easier-on-the-eyes motif from sunset to sundown — or from one particular time till one other particular time (10 p.m. to 7 a.m., maybe, if you happen to lead as wild of a life as I do).
To discover it, skip merrily into the Display part of your system settings, choose the Dark Theme choice, then faucet the road labeled “Schedule” and decide no matter association you want.
Android 11 gem #8: Resizable picture-in-picture video home windows
Support for picture-in-picture video is one more underappreciated Android characteristic, and with Android 11, it will get an extraordinarily hard-to-find however helpful new contact: When one thing is taking part in in a small floating field in your display screen, Android 11 allows you to resize the field to make it bigger or smaller.
The characteristic is truthfully sort of difficult to make use of in its present type, nevertheless it’s effectively worth determining. Just get one thing right into a picture-in-picture field — by beginning a YouTube video after which returning to your private home display screen or switching to a different app, for example, or by beginning a Maps navigation after which doing the identical factor — after which contact your finger to the field’s lower-left or lower-right nook and drag it up or down diagonally.
It may take you just a few tries to seek out the exact proper spot, however when you do, you’ll make the field no matter dimension your treasured little coronary heart wishes for much more effectual cell multitasking.
Android 11 gem #9: The streamlined media participant
Last however not least, one in every of Android 11’s highest profile however hardest to seek out front-facing options: Android 11 replaces the notification-based media gamers of the previous — the place you’d get a person management panel as a notification for each app in which you begin taking part in audio or video — with a streamlined “carousel” that lives in your Quick Settings space and serves any and all media gamers in a single spot.
It’s really fairly intelligent: Instead of getting all of the totally different gamers in your notifications, you simply have a single participant in that one constant place. And if you’ve had a number of apps taking part in audio or video, you’ll be able to swipe left or proper on the participant to maneuver from one set of controls to a different.
There’s a catch, although: As of now, the characteristic is deactivated and utterly invisible by default. And you actually should exit of your solution to change that.
- Enable Android’s developer settings by opening the About Phone part of your system settings, scrolling all the way down to the “Build quantity” line on the very backside, and tapping that line seven instances. The cellphone will verify that you simply need to allow the settings and can in all probability make you set in your PIN or sample, too.
- Back out to the primary settings menu, then go into the System part and faucet “Advanced.”
- Tap the road labeled “Developer choices” towards the underside of the display screen.
- Scroll down ’til you see the Media part and search for the road labeled “Media resumption.”
- Activate the toggle subsequent to that, then observe the prompts to restart your cellphone.
And that is it: Anytime you play media from any app transferring ahead, you need to see the nifty new carousel participant in the Quick Settings space. (Just do not fiddle with any of the opposite developer settings except you already know what you are doing!)
Some attention-grabbing stuff, eh? And we’re solely simply barely getting began.
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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]
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