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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. The latest version of Google̵

7;s operating system has a lot of exciting features for users. Here are the features you should take care of.

When will my phone get Android 11?

Google has already started running Android 11 for Pixel smartphones. All Pixel devices starting from Pixel 2 can download the update directly into the air right now. Go to Settings> System> Advanced> System Update and tap “Check for Update” to start the upgrade process.

In addition to the stable release for Pixel phones, several select devices from ASUS, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, Realme and Samsung can try Android 11 Beta. You can check the XDA-Developer website for more information.

The stable release of Android 11 is likely to hit newer advanced phones from Samsung and OnePlus first. You can expect the launch of Android 11 to take up to a year or longer, depending on the handset manufacturer.

A new dedicated space for messaging

Messaging is one of the most common things people do with their smartphones, and Android 11 makes it easier to keep track of these apps. Messages from messaging applications can appear in a new “Conversations” section of the message shadow.

android 11 conversations

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

There is no way to manually add an app to the “Conversations” section, but you can remove them.

“Chat Heads” for more apps

android 11 bubbles
Justin Duino

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

Android 11 provides the same functionality to the system level. All apps can now activate chat head-like “Bubbles”. You can turn a conversation into a “Bubble” from individual notifications, which will keep it at the top of other elements on the screen at all times.

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

Renewed media controls

android 11 media controls
Justin Duino

Android 11 includes updated media controls, which are now in the quick settings menu instead of the notification section.

android 11 media controls
Compact (left), expanded (right)

Sweeping down once reveals compact media controls, and swiping down expands the interface. If you have multiple apps playing media, whether it’s music or casting a video, you can swipe between media controls.

multiple media controls

With supported apps, you can also quickly change where media is played. If you tap the Google Cast icon or the place where the sound is played, a list of devices to which you switch playback is displayed. You can easily switch players without even 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 is in the stream menu. This is a place where you usually do not spend much time, but now Android uses it well.

If you press and hold the power button, the new power menu opens. Here you can now add shortcuts and quick switches to control your smart home devices from any app on your phone that supports the feature.

android 11 power menu home controller
Justin Duino

For example, the Google Home app currently supports this feature. All smart home devices that you have added to Google Home can be placed in the stream menu. The shortcut drastically reduces the time it takes to turn smart devices on or off and display Nest security cameras.

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

Built-in screen recording

android 11 screen recorder
Justin Duino

Recording your screen is something that requires third-party apps for a long time. Finally, in Android 11, there is a built-in screen recorder.

The screen recorder can be started from the quick setup menu. You can choose to record audio and screen movements along with the video. If you record sound, you can even choose to record from the microphone, the device sound, or both.

Android 11 screen recording options
Justin Duino

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

Even better access restrictions for apps

Android 11 remove permissions
Justin Duino

Privacy is a big deal, and Google always adds tools to protect your personal information. Android 10 added some important permissions options, and now Android 11 is building on that.

In addition to Android 10’s “Allow only when using the app” for site access, you can now allow “Only this time” permission. The new setting means you can only let the app access your location, camera or microphone once. The next time it wants to use these sensors, it will ask again.

android 11 one-time mode

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

Android 11 restore permissions

Android 11’s Easter egg

Android 11 Easter Egg is a return to Android 7.0 Nougat. To access the Easter egg, go to Settings> About phone> Android version and then quickly press “Android version” until the image below is displayed.

android 11 easter eggs
Justin Duino

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

The other part of the Easter egg is where Android Nougat comes into play. Nougat included an elaborate cat-collecting game like the Easter egg. When you turn the knob to 11, you see a bowl notification with a cat emoji at the bottom of the screen. This begins your cat’s fundraising journey.

RELATED: How to activate Android Nougat’s Easter eggs that collect cats

The next step in the game is to attract cats. This is done in Android 11’s newly designed stream menu.

Press and hold the power switch on your phone, and then press the three dots above the Smart Home Controls section. Select “Add controls” from the menu that appears. Click here on the “See other apps” option at the bottom of the page. You can now add “Cat Controls”, which will add shortcuts to water, feed and play with the cats.

Android 11 cat controls

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

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