There was a time when a new Android release would be accompanied by a grumbling stomach. We really do miss the days of Android Jelly Bean and Honeycomb.

What we don’t miss, however, is the lack of functionality that came with those iterations of Android. Sure, Android 11 has a boring name, but the features contained in the newly released operating system are tantalising in their own way.

Unfortunately, aside from Google Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and realme device owners, you will have to wait for OEMs to dispatch the Android update.

For now though, let’s see what the OS offers, starting media controls.

Android 10 sported a number of improvements to media consumption, but the latest iteration turns that up to 11.

With Android 11 you will be able to control all of your connected devices and the media they are playing directly from your smartphone without the need for additional apps.

Android Auto now also works wirelessly with Android 11 so long as you have a compatible car and a device with 5GHz WiFi compatibility.

A rather nifty feature is context-aware Bluetooth audio. If you switch your phone into airplane mode, Bluetooth will remain on so long as you have headphones or hearing aids connected to the device.

We need to talk

Android’s messaging solution is, well it’s poor in comparison to Apple’s iOS.

Android 11 looks to improve the experience but by how much will require some hands on experience.

Android 11’s new Conversations feature will let you “see respond to and control your conversations across multiple messaging apps” from a single pane of glass. That’s pretty cool, even if Apple has had it for a long time.

Users can now also pin conversations so that they always appear on top of other apps sort-of how Facebook’s Chat Heads work.

Given Android’s connection to Google, it was only a matter of time before Smart reply and response auto-fill was brought into Android and this iteration is where we’ll see it.

Smart reply, however, appears to be locked to Pixel devices for now.

Keyboard autofill will only work with GBoard but will help fill in forms with the information you use most often.

Finally Nearby Share will let you send files, videos, map locations and more to nearby devices running Android, Chrome OS or Chrome browser.

Security improvements

Android 11 brings with it a number of quality of life updates particularly in terms of security.

Our favourite of the bunch if permission auto-reset. Many of us have apps we installed many moons ago that we no longer use. Android 11 will now reset the permissions those apps were granted so they aren’t siphoning off your data in the background.

As a user you now also have greater control over app permissions, One-time permissions can be used so that an app has to request every time it uses your camera, microphone or location.

Location sharing will also feature greater control so that apps don’t have access to more data than they need.

Google Play has also received a few security improvements. In Android 11, security and privacy patches will be dispatched via the Google Play Store so that you always have access to the latest updates. This could be particularly useful in South Africa where often security and privacy fixes are bundled together with huge software updates. Smaller downloads that improve security are very much welcome.

In addition, Google Play system updates won’t require a device restart which is nice.

Our favourites

Screen recording is now built into Android 11. You are able to record your screen, microphone and device audio all at once. Given that Google blocked all phone call recording software a while back (which positively sucks for us here at Hypertext conducting interviews over the phone during a pandemic) we’re glad to see a solution in its place.

Call screening has also been improved so you’ll be able to spot spam calls more easily.

New APIs will also let you know when you’re on a 5G connection (providing you have a capable device of course).

Dark mode can now be scheduled so that your apps and display adapt to the night time and revert back to light mode during the day.

The wait is now on for everybody not using a Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO or realme device. We’re holding thumbs we don’t have to wait too long for this software update.

[Source – Android]