Android 11 is now available – here are the best new features
Android 11 wants to help you get all of those notifications under control.
The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 11, officially released yesterday with new tools to make managing your notifications easier. If you’ve got a Pixel device, you should already have an upgrade notification, but what’s different this upgrade is that other manufacturers are also on the Day One train, with select handsets from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Realme all getting the update.
Someone at Google must have noticed that the notification shade was getting unwieldy, with every other app competing with your important message notifications. Android 11 aims to cut the chatter, with your conversations getting their own space in the shade, right at the top so you don’t have to hunt between all the other notifications.
You can also pin any conversation as a bubble, which will float above any other apps on your screen so you can always continue the conversation. If you’ve been using chat heads on Facebook Messenger you’ll feel right at home here.
Content creators and those designated as their family’s tech support person will be glad that Android 11 brings a built-in screen recorder, which also records touch locations and audio from your device and mic so you can create easy to follow instructions. No additional apps, no root access, just all the tools you need. Speaking of tools, controls for your smart home devices can be summoned by long-press on the power button, so no more hunting for the individual apps.
Audio playback has been tweaked too, with the ability to change your audio output device from the notification shade without having to hunt in menus. You can also resume music playback from your notifications, even after you closed the app you were listening to. Privacy settings are more granular as well, with a new one-time access for using apps you don’t completely trust.
There are a few Pixel-only features coming to Android 11, as well
This includes the Smart Reply feature in conversations that’ll give you suggested responses based on the existing conversation. You can also have the bottom row of your home screen automatically switch out icons to your most-used apps, so you don’t have to hunt for anything you use often. That’s one of my favorite pieces of using my Mac so it’s cool to see it arrive on other devices. Adding apps into folders will also automatically name the folders based on the apps you put in, so you don’t always have to rename them.
The best Pixel-only feature? It’s a combination of Live View and Location Sharing, that lets you easily meet up with your friends using AR. You can see that in the GIF above.
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