Google has launched the first developer preview of Android 11, revealing the new features which will be included in the operating system.
“Today, we’re releasing the first Developer Preview of Android 11, and building on a strong feedback cycle last year, we’re making this year’s preview available to you earlier than ever,” the company said.
“With Android 11 we’re keeping our focus on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while continuing to keep privacy and security a top priority.”
The new version of the Android operating system includes new functionality which will help users protect their private data, as well as new capabilities for 5G networking and foldable smartphone designs.
Google said that this is just a first look at the new operating system, and it would continue to reveal new features over the coming months.
Developers can now visit the Android 11 developer site, download a system image for the Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 4, and try out the new operating system.
We have listed the new features coming to Android 11 below.
Android 11 will introduce a number of changes to the way conversations and notifications work within the operating system.
These include the following:
- A dedicated conversations section in the notification area
- Native chat bubbles
- Support for inserting images into inline notification replies
“Real-time, bilateral communication apps should use the sharing/conversation shortcuts API to provide People targets that Android will surface throughout the phone as well as Bubble APIs to allow users to carry on conversations while using the device in other capacities,” Google said.
Android 11 will include support for 5G network speeds and the capabilities they enable.
The OS will include enhanced connectivity APIs to allow developers and users to better take advantage of these improved speeds.
Updated APIs include the Dynamic meteredness API and Bandwidth Estimator API.
- Dynamic meteredness API – Allows developers to check whether the user’s connection is unmetered and adjust the resolution and quality of their content accordingly.
- Bandwidth estimator API – Allows developers to check the user connection’s bandwidth without polling the network.
New form factors
As more devices with unique designs enter the market, such as vertically- and horizontally-folding smartphones, Android has evolved to include support for these new form factors.
Android 11 includes APIs which let developers optimise their applications to support these form factors, including waterfall and pinhole screen designs.
“Privacy has always been at the core of Android, and each year we’ve added more ways to keep users secure and increase transparency and control,” Google said.
“In Android 11 we’re continuing our focus on user privacy with new permission options, updates to scoped storage, and more.”
New privacy features include the following:
- One-time permission – Grants apps the ability to access data or hardware elements for a single use, with permissions being revoked once the app is closed.
- Scoped storage – Improvements to external storage for app and user data, including opt-in raw file path access, updated DocumentsUI, and batch edit operations in MediaStore.
Google will also update its Google Play Policy for all Android versions to ensure that apps only request location permissions when truly necessary.
Android 11 will sport improved security features, from expanded biometrics support to secure ID storage.
These changes are detailed below:
- Biometrics – BiometricPrompt now supports three authenticator types with different levels of granularity and can be more easily integrated with different app architectures.
- Platform hardening – Improvements to the protection of security-critical components and heap pointer tagging for catching memory issues.
- Identity credentials – Support for the secure storage and retrieval of identification documents, such as mobile driving licences.
Android 11 will also allow applications to share data more securely through a BlobstoreManager.
Updates and other features
Google said it has been working to reach a wider range of devices more quickly with its updates.
“We’re also working to make updates faster and smoother by prioritizing app compatibility as we roll out new platform versions,” the company said.
“In Android 11 we’ve added new processes, developer tools, and release milestones to minimize the impact of platform updates.”
These include minimizing the impact of changes on applications and adding opt-in testing for improved reliability.
Android 11 will also include a number of new APIs which improve the functionality of call-screening applications, native Wi-Fi suggestions, native image decoding, and camera bokeh modes, as well as MediaCodec changes which reduce video latency to improve the experience when streaming games or other media.