Whenever you switch your phone to airplane mode, your phone cuts off all forms of wireless connections, including Bluetooth. With Android 11, it looks like Bluetooth will be left on when you engage the mode. This is especially important in this day and age where the 3.5mm jack is slowly being wiped out from phones.
A new commit in the AOSP Gerrit describes a “Context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode”, which is exactly that. The idea is that, when you engage airplane mode, your Bluetooth connections will be left alone when it has either a hearing aid or an A2DP device connected. The feature is currently live on the first Android 11 developer preview
You’ve likely been told to turn on airplane mode yourself just before the plane you’re in takes off. The reason behind this is so that your phone’s cellular signals don’t interfere with the equipment of both the plane and the ground crew.
But Bluetooth connections on consumer devices usually have a range of 10m with no obstacles. Some will go to 100m, but that’s about it. At that range, it’s less likely to cause communications interference. And when it’s not causing problems, having to manually turn Bluetooth on after going into airplane mode is just troublesome.
This is generally a good change. With Android 11, simply engaging airplane mode will not kill your music listening experience. Another improvement that may come with Google’s new mobile OS is the removal of video recording file size restrictions.