Android 11 Features: The biggest changes revealed in the public


After a couple of delays, the first public beta of Android 11 is available to download for certain Pixel devices right now. Below you’ll find all the new features included in this update, along with when the final stable release might arrive.

It might be later than planned, but you can download the Android public beta to your Pixel 2 device or above right now.

Now, as with all betas, it’s worth stating straight away you should probably avoid loading this onto your main phone. This is early software designed for developers and it might be packed with bugs that haven’t yet been squished.

Still, if you’ve got an older Pixel about the place that could be ideal for trying this out.

Android 11 release schedule

The first public beta of Android 11 is available now. We’ve got a handy guide on how to install Android 11 here to help you out.

Google initially said that there would be three Android 11 developer previews, with the first Android 11 beta for non-developers to try out to follow in May.

However, due to the spread of coronavirus, the company has had to change many of its plans. It has cancelled Google I/O, its annual conference of developers, and decided to roll out four Android 11 developer previews.

android 11 timeline

The first of three Android 11 beta was then set to be announced on June 3, however Google delayed this again until June 11. We’re now a little in the dark about the true release schedule going forward.

As for a full release, this usually comes around the same time as Google announces its flagship handset for the year. We expect to see the Pixel 5 around October, likely a few months after the long-awaited Pixel 4a gets its official release.

Which phones work with Android 11?

Currently, the following phones have support for the Android 11 beta. There is also the chance more will be added throughout the summer.

  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a
  • Pixel 3a XL
  • Pixel 4
  • Pixel 4 XL

What new features are in Android 11?

Features in these betas are always subject to change. Below you’ll find new additions that are either available inside the beta or mentioned previously. We’ll update this as new features become available throughout the beta process.

Distinct chat notifications

Messages sit separately from other notifications in Android 11’s notification shade, with rich features that enable replies, reminders and the ability to set shortcuts to threads on your lockscreen. This should help distinguish between chat notifications and ones from your other apps.

Chat bubbles

We had been expecting Chat Bubbles to launch with Android 10, but that didn’t happen, and the feature is now coming in Android 11.

By long-pressing a message notification, you’ll be able to open the conversation in a miniature floating bubble that will be overlaid on top of everything else on your screen, in a similar manner to Facebook Messenger’s floating heads. You’ll be able to move chat bubbles around too.

Easier Controls

One really nice new Android 11 feature is the new Controls panel hidden behind the lock button. Not only will this bring you quick access to your Google Pay cards, but it’ll also bring smart home controls directly to the front without forcing you into the Home app to change the brightness of your lights.

Dark mode scheduling

Android 10 introduced a system-wide Dark Mode, but if you don’t want to have it enabled all the time, Android 11 may allow you to set Dark Mode to switch on and off automatically at specific times of the day. For instance, it could turn on automatically at sunset, and disable itself at sunrise.

Related: Best Android phones

Screen recording

Android 11 could finally allow you to easily record what’s on your screen too. The feature will be accessible in the Quick Settings menu, and once you’ve started a recording you’ll see options to pause, stop, cancel and Chromecast the recording. It seems this feature is available in the first public beta, however it was ditched late in the process last time around.

Updated quick settings

A small tweak this: your music controls have shifted from the notification panel to the quick settings bar.


There has been a lot of tweaks surrounding privacy in Android 11. For instance, you can now give apps one-time permission to use the mic or camera and permissions will auto-reset if you haven’t used the app for an extended period of time. Apps will also need to get permission to access background data, however this won’t be enforced until 2021.

Previously rumoured Android 11 features

Below are some features that were rumoured to be included in Android 11 but haven’t been detailed as of yet.

Muted alerts during camera use

With Android 11, your phone could automatically mute notification sounds and vibrations while you’re using the camera app, which means you’ll no longer be able to blame your friends for shaky video footage.

Related: Best camera phones

Better motion senses

The Pixel 4’s gesture controls failed to convince, but Google looks set to enhance them in Android 11. There’ll be a new pause gesture that works when you tap the air in front of your phone, and Android Police reports that the entire gesture controls system is being improved, and will work a lot more smoothly.

Double-tap functionality

There’s a new “double-tap” gesture in the works for Android 11 too. By tapping the back of your phone twice, you’ll be able to control a wide range of features. Here’s the list of choices, according to XDA Developers:

  • Dismiss timer
  • Launch camera
  • Launch Google Assistant
  • Play/pause media
  • Collapse status bar
  • Silence incoming phone calls
  • Snooze alarms
  • Unpin notifications
  • Perform a “user selected action”

Improved gesture navigation

Android’s fiddly gesture navigation system is set for some tweaks too, and Android 11 could let you increase or decrease the sensitivity of certain controls, like the back gesture, in order to make it easier to use.

Tools to improve 5G bandwidth and metering

Google is also getting ready for the influx of 5G phones in 2020, with tools to improve 5G bandwidth and metering. Android 11 will check if you have an unlimited 5G tariff and will boost the resolution of video in order to make sure you’re getting the best viewing experience possible.

Related: Best smartphone

Refresh rate viewer

Whether fixed or variable, higher screen refresh rates are becoming increasing common on smartphones, and Android 11 could give you the option to view your display’s refresh rate all the time. The number, most likely either 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz, will appear in the top-left corner of the screen.

New permission options

Last but absolutely not least, Android 11 will introduce a few new permission options, to help you keep on top of the data you’re sharing.

When you first fire up an app, you’ll have the option to grant it certain permissions on a one-time-only basis. That will appear alongside ‘While using the app’ and ‘Deny’. Only apps that can justify it to Google will be able to offer you the ‘Allow access all the time’ option that currently appears in Android 10.

Apps will also be required to support Scoped Storage.

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Brian Jones

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