Android 11 Release: All You Need to Know About Google Updates | Android

YesGoogle has released the latest update called Android 11 “R” which is now being released on the firm’s Pixel devices and smartphones of some of the major third-party manufacturers.

Announced at the end of February, Android 11 brings enhanced privacy, new chat-related features and smart media and device control, as well as some pixel-exclusive additions.

Here’s what you need to know about Android updates.

When can I get it?

Now if you have a Google Pixel smartphone or a small selection of third party devices made by OnePlus, Oppo, Realm and Xiaomi.

Anyone who owns a smartphone from another manufacturer like Samsung can wait a few months.

How much will it cost?

The update is free from Google and other manufacturers. If you’re asked to pay for an update, it’s likely to be a scam.

Will my apps work?

Android 11 has not changed the way the original operating system works, which means that almost all applications, if updated in the last few years, should work directly out of the box.

Conversation upgrade

Conversations can be marked as a priority and separated from the rest of your notifications.
Conversations can be marked as a priority and separated from the rest of your notifications. Photo: Google

For many, phones are about constantly messaging through a variety of applications. These chat apps find their own dedicated space in your phone’s notification section, making it easier to view and manage conversations without interfering with the rest of your notifications.

Bubbles aka Chat Heads

Android now has a built-in version of Facebook Messenger Chat Heads to use any chat app.
Android now has a built-in version of Facebook Messenger Chat Heads to use any chat app. Photo: Google
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Facebook first introduced a feature called Chat Heads in 2013 for its messenger app, which throws conversations into slightly floating bubbles that can sit on top of everything on your screen and expand further to read.

Google has taken that feature and made it a core part of Android so that any messenger app can do the same thing with a setting called Bubbles. Most chat apps will support the feature, although it needs to be updated to do anything.

The idea is that you can continue what you were doing while having a quick conversation with someone without having to switch on or off different applications.

Upgraded media controls

Android 11
Android 11 separates music controls from other notifications and adds quick access to payment options and smart device controls. Photo: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Music controls now sit on top of the rest of the notifications as part of the main quick-control section of the pull-down notification shed. Part of the upgrade is the ability to quickly switch the output for your song, so if you’re listening to headphones and want to play tracks for a friend, you can tap the icon above the play / pause button to switch to the phone.

Very fast access to smart devices

If you have smart lights and other devices, this upgrade is for you. Prolonged pressing the power button will now take you to the quick access panel where you will see a collection of quick action buttons for turning off your phone, rebooting it, accessing Google, and turning smart devices on or off.

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The buttons can be changed so that you have frequently needed devices such as your thermostat or front door light which makes it much faster to open a separate application just to turn off any lights.

Better privacy allowed

Following the location-privacy upgrades of Android 10, Android 11 adds a lot more control over the general permissions you grant to your apps. For example, access to a microphone, camera or location can now only be granted for a period of time, allowing you to use an application indefinitely.

Android will reset authorized permissions for apps you haven’t used for a long time, letting you know that this will happen will help you avoid the apps you use at once and forget to be able to access parts of your phone that they didn’t.

Quick update

Google continues to push for faster updates by providing more security and privacy upgrades through Google Play in a similar way to apps. This way you don’t have to wait for the whole phone update to get an important security patch from your smartphone manufacturer.

Pixel Exclusive

Live view to share location on Google Maps.
Live view to share location on Google Maps.

In addition to the usual Android 11 update, Google has a selection of new features, especially for its Pixel smartphones, which may come to another manufacturer’s device at some point in the future.

Direct view Google Maps now lets you see where your friends are in augmented reality for location sharing. Simply point your phone in their normal direction and it shows you where they are, including the virtual pins using your phone’s camera.

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Smart answer Chat applications have been upgraded to suggest fully automated responses to messages using on-device machine learning. Soon it will simply talk to each other without any need for human interaction with your phone.

The Overview (recently used application) menu can now select text, images, or take screenshots to speed up sharing things. The bottom row of icons on the home screen now reminds phones that you want to use apps depending on your previous use and time of day.

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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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