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Android 11 tips: the 8 new features to explore first

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

7;t push important notifications out of the way. You can even swipe left and right to switch between multiple media apps. However, you do lose a row of quick setting switches. It’s probably a worthwhile trade-off.

Android 11 media controls Google

Screen recorder

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.

Android 11 recorder Google

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.

Android 11 bubbles Google

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.

Android 11 power menu Google

Temporary Permissions

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.

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