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The best new features in Android 11, available now

Android 11 hero

After months of beta testing, the final version of Android 11 is here. This latest version of the Google operating system has some exciting features for users. Here are the features that should interest you.

When will my phone get Android 1

Google has already started moving Android 11 to Pixel smartphones. All Pixel devices from Pixel 2 onwards can download the wireless update now. Go to Settings> System> Advanced> System Update and tap “Check for Updates” to start the upgrade process.

In addition to the stable version for Pixel phones, several selected devices from ASUS, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, Realme and Samsung can test the Android 11 beta. You can find more information on the XDA-Developer website.

The stable version of Android 11 is likely to hit newer high-end phones from Samsung and OnePlus first. Depending on the manufacturer of the handset, the introduction of Android 11 should take up to a year or more.

A new dedicated area for messaging notifications

Messaging is one of the most common things people do with their smartphones, and Android 11 makes it easy to keep track of these apps. Notifications from messaging apps can be displayed in a new “Conversations” section in the notification shadow.

Android 11 conversations

Android is trying to figure out which apps to include in the Conversations section, but it’s not perfect. At the time of writing, only a few apps are listed in this section, including Google’s Messages app and Facebook Messenger.

There is also no option manually Add an app to the conversations section, but you can remove She.

“Chat Heads” for more apps

Android 11 bubbles
Justin Duino

Back in 2013, Facebook Messenger introduced a function called “Chat Heads”. Messages appear as floating bubbles on the sides of the screen. These bubbles can expand and allow you to view and respond to a conversation above the screen.

Android 11 brings the same functionality at the system level. Every app can now activate chat heads like “bubbles”. You can turn a conversation from individual app notifications into a “bubble” so that it always appears over other items on the screen.

Not all messaging apps have this feature, but it’s now easier for third-party developers to support it.

Revised media control

Android 11 media control
Justin Duino

Android 11 includes redesigned media controls that are now in the Quick Settings menu instead of the notification area.

Android 11 media control
Compact (left), extended (right)

Swipe down once to reveal compact media controls, and swipe down again to expand the user interface. When multiple apps are playing media, whether it’s music or video, you can swipe between the media controls.

multiple media controls

You can also quickly change where the media plays with supported apps. Tapping the Google Cast icon or where the audio is playing will bring up a list of devices you will be switching playback to. You can easily switch players without opening the app.

Android 11 media devices
Justin Duino

Smart home controls in the power menu

One of the most important changes in Android 11 can be found in the power menu. This is a place you don’t usually spend a lot of time, but now Android is taking advantage of it.

A long press of the power button opens the new network menu. Here you can now add shortcuts and quick switches to control your smart home devices from any app on your phone that supports this feature.

Android 11 power menu home controls
Justin Duino

For example, the Google Home app currently supports this feature. Any smart home devices you’ve added to Google Home can be added to the power menu. The shortcut dramatically reduces the time it takes to turn smart devices on and off and view Nest surveillance cameras.

The power menu now also shows credit and debit cards that you’ve added to Google Pay. It’s unclear if this menu needs to be open to use NFC payments or if all you have to do is unlock the device.

Built-in screen recording

Android 11 screen recorder
Justin Duino

Recording your screen has long required third-party apps. Finally, there is a built-in screen recorder in Android 11.

The screen recorder can be started from the Quick Settings menu. You can record audio and screen touches along with the video. When you’re recording audio, you can even record from the microphone, device audio, or both.

Android 11 screen recorder options
Justin Duino

Screen recording can be very useful for showing someone how to do something or for recording a bug that you want to report. It’s a small thing, but it’s handy when you need it.

Even better permission restrictions for apps

Android 11 remove permissions
Justin Duino

Privacy is a big deal, and Google is constantly adding tools to keep your personal information safe. Android 10 added some key permission options, and now Android 11 builds on that.

In addition to Android 10s “Only allow while using the app” for location access, you can now allow “This time only” permission. With the new setting, you can allow the app to access your location, camera or microphone only once. The next time you want to use these sensors you will be asked again.

Android 11 one-time permission

The next new permission option protects you from apps that you haven’t used in a while. Android 11 automatically resets the granted permissions for an app that you have not used recently. This prevents apps from abusing permissions long after you stop using them.

Android 11 Auto Reset Permissions

Easter egg from Android 11

The Android 11 Easter Egg is a throwback to Android 7.0 Nougat. You can get to the Easter Egg by going to Settings> About Phone> Android Version and then quickly tapping “Android Version” until you see the graphic below.

Android 11 Easter Egg
Justin Duino

The first part of the Easter egg is a volume knob that stops at 10. If you turn the knob from 1 to 10 three times on the third try, it will go past 10 and display the “11” logo.

In the second part of the Easter egg, Android Nougat comes into play. Nougat contained a sophisticated cat collecting game as an Easter egg. If you turn the rotary switch to 11, a toast notification with a cat emoji will appear at the bottom of the screen. This begins your cat-collecting journey.

CONNECTED: How to activate Android Nougat’s Cat Collecting Easter Egg

The next step in the game is dressing cats. This is done in the newly designed power menu of Android 11.

Long press the power button on your phone, then tap the three dots above the smart home control. From the menu that appears, choose Add Controls. Here, tap on the “Show other apps” option at the bottom of the page. You can now add “Cat Controls” that allow you to add shortcuts to water, feed and play with the cats.

Android 11 cat controls

Tap the shortcuts to fill the water bladder and food bowl and play with a toy. After a while, a cat will appear in the notifications and you can tap on it to add it to your collection. It’s a fun little game to play when you’re bored.

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