After months of beta testing and several test versions, Google has finally started rolling out the public version of Android 11. Users might — or might not — be receiving the update based on the devices they use. Google started rolling out Android 11 starting with the selected Pixel smartphones, followed by few devices from global smartphone makers OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and others. To make Android more palatable to business users, Google has been beefing up its mobile operating system with security and performance updates for the last few years. This year, the tech giant has added several new features in Android 11, many aimed at allowing users to keep their business and personal data separate — a critical need for work-from-home employees using their own devices. Here are the top features you need to know that Google has baked into its new Android 11.
Android 11 app permissions and security
Android 11 introduced one-time permissions along with auto-reset features for granular app-permission control. This is an essential security upgrade, especially for businesses, because it allows users to fully control the data and other resource access by applications. With one-time permissions, users can grant access to system resources such as microphone, camera, or location for that particular usage instance. This way, users can allow access and permissions to the app based on their individual preferences.
Google has also added a Biometric Boost to provide additional security for users. With Android 11, users can choose to select when to use facial unlocking and when to use fingerprint as a means to authenticate apps. This provides peace of mind for many as it can add a crucial layer of security for using banking, health care, and other security-essential apps. Google has always worked on creating a wallet-free environment for its users, meaning the company has been enabling its operating system to support several essential physical entities virtually. While Google has not disclosed the underlying technology, it has said that it can securely identity documents such as driving licenses and passports digitally.
New and improved Voice Access
Voice Access has been one of the top accessibility apps for Android devices and was launched several years ago. However, with the Android 11, Google has improved the app and made it easier for the users to control their devices through voice. Voice Access is now available offline and will better understand the voice commands based on screen content. More information about the Voice Access can be found here.
Google has finally started to separate conversations from that of other app notifications. With Android 11, users will be able to see conversations prioritized in the notifications shade. There is a whole new “Conversations” header section in the notification panel where users can set priorities within the conversations. Users can customize these notifications by categorizing them in Silent, Default, and Priority modes.
Users can also play around and customize the entire notification panel by grouping, prioritizing, and setting custom notification alerts by just holding a notification.
Android 11 allows its users to pin the conversations so they always appear on the screen. This is going to allow users to multitask and save time involved in navigating between apps. We all have seen the bubbleheads in Facebook Messenger on Android, and with Android 11, users can make a bubble out of all the supported applications. These floating bubbles can be dragged and placed anywhere across the screen.
While not all applications support this, we can expect the majority of social networking and conversational applications to catch up. Android always had an upper edge over iOS when it comes to notifications and notification controls.
AI for convenience
Google has baked AI in Android 11 to help increase productivity and efficiency. Smart replies are now an integral part of Android 11 and provide suggested responses to users across several applications. Google is using artificial intelligence to smartly scan and understand the ongoing conversation and provide users with the most appropriate word and emoji suggestions suiting the conversation.
Android 11 also packs in Smart App suggestions. The OS will auto-detect the apps that are most likely to be used by the user and arrange them in the bottom row of the screen. Google announced that it is powering this feature based on user routines. For instance, if you usually use a morning workout app on your device, Google will arrange the application in the bottom row of the home screen, making it easy and convenient to run the apps. Android 11 also supports Smart Folders, which will organize all similar apps with a name based on the theme.
Android 11 comes with an all-new power menu with several smart home controls. The power menu is the menu that shows up when you long-press the power/sleep button. There are several additions to the regular power off and restart options such as quick access to GPay, smart home controls, and more. Users can also long-press the widgets to adjust them in a much more granular manner.
Google has also added several new features to Google Assistant, such as “hold for me.” This new feature shows a prompt on the screen, letting you know when someone finally answers a call, and meanwhile, you can see all the call information in the form of text on the screen. However, this feature is currently available only for the new Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. With Android 11, screen recording is a built-in function, and users will not have to rely on any third-party app.
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