There’s a new version of Android floating around, and whether you get Android 11 via an OTA update or a shiny new phone upgrade, there will be new things to discover. Android 11 includes numerous quality of life and security enhancements, some of which can replace features from the previous version. Here are eight things to keep in mind when acclimating to the latest operating system.
New controls for media playback
Media controls have been part of the Android notification shade for years, but that changes in Android 11. That playback notification still exists, but it will above your notifications in the quick settings. As a result, your controls will always be in the same place and they won̵
Believe it or not, there was a time when you couldn’t take a screenshot on Android without a USB cable or root access. That changed in Android 4.0, and there may come a time when we look back to the era when we couldn’t take screenshots with the same shock. Google just added this feature to Android 11, although some OEMs like Samsung already have their own recorders. Still, this ensures that you can take screen recordings with almost all phones in the future.
You can access this function in the quick settings. You have the option to record audio and show touches before each recording starts. Unfortunately you can’t change the resolution or bitrate now, so the files will be quite large. Hopefully that changes in Android 12.
Conversations and bubbles
There are a number of new ways to send messages in Android 11. First, there is a new class of notifications specifically for conversations. All of your apps identified as conversations (eg Google Messages, Telegram, WhatsApp) will appear in a new section at the top of the notification list. You can also long press on message notifications to mark the conversation as a priority, making it easier to find them in the future.
The other change to messages is Bubbles, which allows you to convert the notifications into Chat Head style floating icons. You can turn on calling by tapping the notification button, or go to the notification settings for each app you want to call and turn it on.
Menu on / off button
The power button is for more than turning off your phone in Android 11. A long press will open a screen with both Google Pay and smart home functionality. For Google Pay, make sure you have set up some cards in the app, then you can switch between them on the energy screen. Below that you have smart devices for home use, which are controlled via the Home app. Android tries to select devices you want to access, but you can edit them manually.
Google continues to block apps from accessing your data in Android 11, perhaps most visible with the addition of temporary permissions to microphone, camera and location. When apps request it on Android 11, you have the option to deny, allow, or allow just that once. These temporary permissions will be revoked once you close the app.
Have you ever accidentally cleared a notification? Well, that’s not a problem in Android 11, provided you change this setting. In your notification settings, there should be a menu called Notification History. Just open that up and enable the feature. From then on, you can visit that menu to see the contents of every notification that arrives on your phone.
Schedule in dark mode
After teasing us for several years, Google finally rolled out a system-wide dark theme in Android 10. However, there was no scheduling option. While some phones had that feature thanks to OEM modifications, all phones now have it in Android 11. You can find the settings under the Display menu. It has an option for sunrise and sunset automation, or you can set a custom schedule more to your taste.
Pin in parts
The Android share menu has been a nagging problem for the last few versions of Android. It’s gotten so busy it can be hard to find apps on the list. Android 11 doesn’t solve this completely, but it makes the share menu more usable with a simple tweak. You can pin apps to the top of your share menu by long pressing and confirming. Then the desired app is always there.