Android 10 launched barely six months ago, but Google is already openly preparing for Android 11. The next version of Android is now available as a developer preview. If you’ve got a recent Pixel device, you can install Android 11 right now to check out its enhanced privacy controls, messaging bubbles, and more. Most users will have to wait for the final version to experience Android 11, and that won’t drop until this fall.
The next Android release will include more control over the data apps can access on your phone. In Android 10, Google gave users more control over location access, and Android 11 brings similar features to other sensitive permissions. When apps ask for your location, microphone, or camera, you have the option of granting that just once. Google is also going all-in with Scoped Storage, a feature it delayed last year. Scoped Storage limits which directories apps can see on your device, preventing them from snooping on your files. However, this also means you won’t be able to manage your files with complete freedom in third-party apps.
Also in the realm of security, Google has beefed up Project Mainline. That’s a feature that debuted in Android 10, giving Google the ability to push important system component updates directly to devices via the Play Store without waiting on OEMs and carriers to create full system OTAs. In Android 11, Mainline has 12 new modules for a total of 20. That means more vital updates will hit your device silently and on time.
None of the current Android 11 test devices have 5G support, but Google says 5G is a focus of Android 11. Developers will be able to detect if a device has 5G connectivity and enable enhanced Wi-Fi-like experiences that might be disabled on 4G mobile connections. Android 11 can even detect if a 5G wireless connection is unmetered. If so, apps can gobble up more bandwidth.
Notifications are getting a slight tweak in Android 11. The notification shade will have a new section dedicated to conversations. The delayed Bubbles feature from Android 10 beta is also coming back. They’re basically Facebook Chat Heads for any messaging app.
The Android 11 testing program will start with three developer previews, followed by three betas. If you want to try Android 11, you’ll need a Pixel device no older than the Pixel 2/2 XL. The developer previews are only available for sideloading via recovery. The beta releases will go out as optional OTA updates starting in May.
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