On Tuesday, Google officially released the latest version of its mobile operating system, Android 11, and pushed the source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Unlike previous flagship versions, Android 11 will not only be the first to update its Pixel-branded phones in-flight, but will also appear on OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and Realme phones, with more partners rolling out and upgrading devices in the coming months.
Previously, Android updates could take months to complete due to delays from carriers and device makers. Android is the mainstream mobile operating system for thousands of different devices, supporting more than 2.5 billion active devices per month, but that doesn’t help with the penetration of its new version of the system. However, with Android 11 expected to land more devices in less time, developers who don’t take advantage of the Android 11 testing process will need to catch up and make sure their apps and games are ready for businesses and consumers.
The testing process for Android 11 has been fraught with twists and turns, with six beta releases last year and four developer previews and three beta versions this year. Google released Android 11 DP1 in February, the earliest version of its Android developer preview. Android 11 DP2 was released in March and Android 11 DP3 in April. Android 11 Beta 1 was supposed to be released in May, but Google introduced Android 11 DP4 as a stopgap measure.
Finally, Beta 1 was released in June, followed by Beta 2 in July and Beta 3 in August. Beta 1 is usually presented at Google’s I/O Developer Conference, where the first Android Beta version usually debuts. But the event was canceled because of the outbreak. Google had wanted to host the Android 11:Beta Launch Show, but was forced to postpone it because of racist and police brutality protests in the United States.
Android 11 features.
Android 11 has added a number of new features. Google initially divided them into three themes: people, controls, and privacy. However, 5G, new screen types, and call filtering are also supported. There’s even a frame rate API to help apps and games adapt to variable refresh rates, which will be a big focus in the coming years, as both phones and TVs feature computer monitors. Google has also expanded its neural network API for running compute-intensive machine learning operations.
Picture: Android 11 5G Experience.
At the end of the testing process, the Google team also secretly added another improvement, the new Crown Virus Contact Notification API, developed by Google and Apple. In late July, Google updated the version of the system to support interoperability between countries and announced that Android 11 apps could use the API without having to turn on the device’s location settings.
Android 11 “People” feature.
Android 11 should be “more people-centric and more expressive” so that it can “identify and prioritize the most important people in your life.” In other words, you expect a lot of messaging:
– Conversation notifications appear in a dedicated section of the top shadow, with people forwarding designs and conversation-specific actions, such as opening a conversation as a bubble, creating a conversation shortcut on the home screen, or setting reminders;
Bubbles help users keep conversations visible and accessible during multitasth processing. Google wants instant messaging and chat apps to use the Bubble API on notifications in Android 11;
– Integrated keyboard recommendations allow the autofill application and input method editor (IME) to safely provide context-specific entities and strings directly in the IME’s recommendation bar;
Voice access now includes a visual cortical layer on a device that understands the content and context of the screen and generates tags and access points for secondary commands, for people who control their phones entirely through voice.
Android 11 control.
Figure: Android 11 device controls.
Android 11 makes it easier for users to control their tracker:
Device controls help users access and control the devices they connect to. Simply press and hold the power button to immediately call up the device control, the application can use the new API displayed in the control;
Media controls allow users to switch the output device of audio or video content, whether it’s headphones, speakers, or a TV. Users can now enable this feature from the developer options, and it will be enabled by default in the upcoming beta release.
Android 11 privacy feature.
Picture: Android 11 Privacy Control.
Android 11 also provides more control over sensitive permissions and makes devices more secure with faster updates:
– One-time permissions allow an application to grant access to a device’s microphone, camera, or location only once, and the application can request permissions again the next time the application is used;
BACKGROUND: Developers need permission to access background locations in their apps to prevent abuse, but Google won’t enforce this policy on existing apps until 2021;
Automatic reset of permissions: If the user has not used an application for a long time, Android 11 “automatically resets” all running permissions associated with the application and notifies the user. The application can request permission again the next time it is used;
– Scope storage: Google has improved this feature to better protect applications and user data on external storage and to further improve it to help developers migrate more easily;
Last year’s Google Play system update accelerated the update of the core operating system components of devices in the Android ecosystem. Google is doubling the number of modules that can be updated. These 12 new modules will help improve the privacy, security, and consistency of users and developers.
BiometricPrompt API: Developers can specify the biometric intensity required for their app to unlock or access sensitive parts of the app. In order to be backward compatible, Google has added these features to the Jetpack Biometric Library;
Credential API: New use cases such as mobile driver’s license, national ID card and digital ID card.
For developers, Google recommends that they install their apps on devices running Android 11 or simulators, test all user processes and features, and ensure that all changes don’t break anything. Before exploring new APIs and features, you should first test your current application and release compatibility updates.
The most important behavioral changes include:
– One-time permissions: users can now grant one-time access to locations, device microphones, and cameras;
External storage access: applications can no longer access files of other applications in external storage;
Scudo Harden allocator: Scudo is now the heap memory allocator for the machine code in the application;
File descriptor cleaner: FDSAN is now enabled by default to detect file descriptor handling problems with the code in the application;
While these changes will only affect Android 11 users, whether they are users who update to Android 11 or buy new devices, they still mean millions of devices. Android 11 also includes changes in opt-in behavior that can affect your app once you join a new platform.
Google recommends that developers delve into the following features for all Android 11 apps: dark themes, gesture navigation, shared shortcut APIs, synchronous input transitions, and new screen types. It’s worth noting that the first three features were originally added in Android 10. In addition, Google recommends exploring these features: conversations, bubble APIs, 5G, device controls, and media controls.