Google has officialised the beta testing phase for its upcoming Android 11 operating system. However, the beta build of the platform is only available for owners of the company’s own Pixel 2 and newer smartphones at this time.
Originally planned to be unveiled during the now-cancelled Google IO 2020 event, the beta was instead announced in an official Google blog post earlier today. Alongside listing out the new and improved features that are included in Android 11, the company also provided several videos with in-depth explanations of the upcoming additions.
According to the blog post, the beta version of the new operating system is focusing on three key themes: People, Control and Privacy. Google explained that it is making Android more “people-centric and expressive” by introducing a new Conversations section within the drop-down menu that displays current chats that the user is interacting with.
Alongside it is the new Bubbles feature that helps users to keep conversations in view and accessible while multitasking. Other than that, Android 11 also includes improvements to keyboard suggestions by offering convenient context-specific entities and strings via Autofill apps and INput Method Editors. Additionally, Voice Access now includes an on-device visual cortex that generates labels and access points that are relevant to what’s happening ono screen.
Control-wise, Android 11 includes Device Controls – a hub that allows users to access and control various smart devices that are connected to their smartphones via a single interface. Similarly, Media Controls is another centralised hub that enables them to switch the output device for their audio or video content, such as headphones, speakers or TV.
In the subject of Privacy, the latest version of the operating system now allows users to temporarily grant apps short-term access to their device’s microphone, camera or location with one-time permissions. Relatively, the OS will also reset these permissions if it detects that a user has not used an app for an extended period of time – therefore requiring it to request permissions from the user again during the next time it is launched.
To prevent the misuse of a user’s background location, developers are now required to get an approval from the user first before accessing the data. Google said that this restriction will be fully enforced in 2021, thus giving developers more time to make necessary changes to their applications.
Lastly, the company had doubled the number of updatable modules in the Google Play System Updates feature in Android 11. This will help improve privacy, security, and consistency for users and developers, they explained.
For a deeper-dive into the Android 11 update – especially on the developer side of things – do check out Google’s official blog post via the link below. A download link for the beta is also provided for those who wish to have a first-hand experience with the new OS – but remember, it’s only available for users with Pixel 2 and above at this time.