Google released Android 11 on September 8, 2020, with many exciting new features and improvements.
Supported Pixel phones including Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, all received the Android 11 update immediately after the release. The first generation Pixel and Pixel XL stopped at Android 10 and did not receive the Android 11 update.
Other Android manufacturers will roll out their Android 11 update based on their own schedule. Some manufacturers may release the Android 11 update in November to December. But for the majority of owners of non -Pixel phones, very likely, they will receive the Android 11 update from early 2021.
This Android 11 guide explains the top 11 new features of Android 11: conversations in one place, notification history, bubbles, native screen recorder, seamless media control, smart device controls, one-time permissions and auto-reset permissions, dark theme scheduling, security updates via Play Store, smart Reply, app suggestions, and smart folders for Pixel phones, and wireless Android Auto.
Of course, there is an Android 11 Easter egg: Neko Cat game.
Conversations in one place: the most useful new features of Android 11
In Android 11, all notifications from messaging apps now are grouped as conversions in the notification panel. You can not only read the incoming new messages but also directly reply in the notification panel.
And it works for all messaging apps.
On the lock screen, you can even choose to show priority conversations from specific contacts or individual chat threads.
Most Android 11 users will admit the conversation is one of the best new features of Android 11.
Very often, we dismiss some notifications without checking them. But sometimes, you may realize the notification may be important.
Prior to Android 11, you cannot access notification history unless you use some third-party apps.
Now, you can enable notification history in Android 11 (Settings —Apps & notifications — Notifications — Notification history) to check snoozed and dismissed notifications.
Bubbles are just a minimized pop-up view of a chat.
Android 11 lets you pin conversations anywhere on the screen. Because the chat bubbles appear on top of other apps and screens, you can always check and participate in the conversation when using other apps.
By default, chat bubbles and notification history are not enabled in Android 11. You need to enable bubbles in Settings — Apps & notifications —Notifications —Bubbles — Allow apps to show bubbles.
Please note, you can also turn on or turn off chat bubbles for individual supported apps.
Native screen recorder
Although there are many decent third-party screen recorders, most Android users are delighted with the final arrival of the native screen recorder in Android 11. Please note, some vendors, for example, Samsung, already offered their own native screen recorder in Galaxy S10.
You can include sound from the device or the microphone. You may also record the touch on the screen.
Of course, it is a basic screen recorder without fancy features like overlaying front or rear cameras. But it is enough for most Android 11 users.
Seamless media control
Android 11 allows you to quickly switch the device that the media plays on.
This includes switching among the phone, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, Google Home devices, and Chromecast devices.
Besides, the play control is no longer a pending notification. In Android 10, there is a dedicated media play box in quick settings.
Smart device controls
Google revamped the Android 11 power menu.
If you purchased different connected devices from different vendors, usually, you need to use various apps to control them. Now, Android 11 lets you manage all (up to 6) supported smart devices in one location (power menu) without fiddling around multiple apps.
You can simply hold the power button for about 2 seconds to access Android 11 Power menu, then manage smart devices.
One-time permissions and auto-reset permissions
Android 11 allows you to grant one-time permissions to an app. If the app needs the permission again next time, it must ask for permission again.
If you do not use an app for a while, Android 11 can automatically reset permissions fo unused apps to prevent these apps from accessing your data.
In a nutshell, Android 11 lets you control what apps can access.
Dark theme scheduling
Dark mode (dark theme) is good for eyes (reducing eye strain) if you need to stare at the screen for a prolonged period, or when you use the phone in a dark environment.
In Android 11, you can turn on and turn off dark theme automatically based on your schedule.
You can schedule dark them in Android 11:
- From sunset to sunrise, or
- Specify the time you want to start and stop the dark theme.
Of course, some vendors already implemented similar features. For example, on Galaxy S20, you can schedule the dark theme (dark mode) with Android 10.
Security updates via Play Store
Some Android vendors are very slow in rolling out the monthly Android security update. This can be a severe security issue if some patches must be applied quickly.
With Android 11, Google can deliver more urgent security and privacy fixes from Play store directly to your phone before the vendors take any actions.
So, technically, Android 11 will be more secure. Most vulnerabilities can be fixed by Google and delivered to your phone directly. In the past, such fixes can only be offered by the vendors.
Smart Reply, app suggestions, and smart folders for Pixel phones
Google added lots of smart features using artificial intelligence (AI) in Android 10. But some of them are available only for Pixel phones and Android One phones.
Smart Reply suggests responses in conversations. The intelligently (AI) suggested replies are based on what’s been said in the conversation. Both words are emojis may be suggested.
Google introduced the quick response in Android Nougat (Android 7). In Android Oreo, Pie and 10, Google gradually improved this feature with more intelligence. The Smart Reply is one of the most polished new features of Android 11. Although it is currently available in Pixel and Android One phones, it will be available in all Android 11 phones in the future. Of course, some vendors may mess it up.
Another AI-related new feature of Android 11 is app suggestions. Currently, it is part of the Pixel launcher, and therefore you can only use it on Pixel phones. The phone will suggest apps to be placed in the favourite app tray (the dock) which is the last row in the Pixel Home screen. The suggestion is dynamic. It may suggest different apps at another time of the day, depending on your usage.
Smart Folders is one of the most practical new features of Android 11. Pixel launcher can suggest a proper name when you create an app folder. Of course, you can overwrite it with your own name.
Wireless Android Auto
Android Auto can be found in more and more car head units. But some drivers are reluctant to connect the cables.
In Android 11, wireless Android Auto is supported on all phones as long as the head unit has a WiFi. Once you finish the first time setup, next time, Android Auto will work automatically, and you even do not need to take out your phone from your bag/pocket.
Easter Egg Bonus: Neko Cat game
One of the most welcomed Android Easter Egg, Neko Cat game in Android Nougat, comes back in Android 11.
After tapping the Android Version field a few times, you can tune to 11 to reveal the game.
What do you think about the new features of Android 11? Which are your favourite Android 11 new features?
If you want to share your thoughts on new features of Android 11, or if you have any questions on Android 11 new features, please let us know in the comments section below.
For other Android 11 guides, you may check this page (coming soon).
If you are still on other versions of Android, you may check these guides:
- For Android Pie (Android 10), please check the Android 10 guides page.
- For Android Pie (Android 9), please check the Android Pie guides page.
- For Android Oreo (Android 8.0 and 8.1), please check the Android Oreo guides page.
- For Android Nougat (Android 7.0 and 7.1), please check the Android Nougat guides page.
- For Android Marshmallow (Android 6.0), please check the Android Marshmallow guide page.
- For Android Lollipop (Android 5.0 and 5.1), please check the Android Lollipop guide page.
- For other general Android questions or problems, please check the Android 101 page.
It is time to enjoy your Android 11!