Android 11 Developer Preview for Pixel Devices Launched
A few days ago we reported that Google is prepping the launch of Android 11, and while Google did take down the link to the developer preview website, it did hint that the launch was imminent. What we did not anticipate was how quickly Google will release the Android 11 Developer Preview.
The Android 11 Developer Preview is Now Available
This is the first time Google has released the preview ahead of the usual launch window. Google normally aims for the second week of March but seems like the company is eager to let the developers test out what they have been cooking. This also means that developers are going to be getting more time testing out and providing feedback.
Another change is that Android 11 is not jumping straight to the beta stage. Which means that unlike last year, users will be able to enjoy the same almost stable experience as they did last year. For this year, the Preview 1 will be coming with features that are mainly targeted towards the developers with future developer previews bringing in more functionality.
With that out of the way, let's have a look at what Google is bringing to the table with the new Android 11.
- Helpful innovation: This unsurprisingly starts with 5G, and Google frames it as a way for developers to “extend [their] Wi-Fi app experiences to mobile users.” Existing APIs have been updated to let applications determine what kind of connection they have access to. Also part of this tentpole is support for new display types, with one API letting devs use the entirety of a waterfall screen, including edges. To improve messaging, there’s a new dedicated conversation section of the notification shade, while Google is pushing Bubbles and letting you paste images into apps and replies.
- Privacy and security: Building off the ability to limit location to “While app is in use” — which is selected by half of users, are one-time permissions for location, microphone, and camera. Scoped storage will likely also go into effect this year. Meanwhile, Android 11 improves biometrics and features platform hardening, as well as secure app data storage and sharing. Users should be excited by electronic ID/driver license support.
- Updates and compatibility: Android 11 is expanding Project Mainline — visible to users as Google Play System Update — with 12 new modules that can be updated without OS releases. A new permissions module “standardizes user and developer access to critical privacy controls on Android devices.” Meanwhile, Google is giving developers a new “Platform Stability” milestone in July that will include final SDK/NDK APIs, internal APIs, and system behaviors.
- Polish and quality: There are various improvements to the connectivity stack, low latency video codecs, and for images/cameras. Highlights for the latter include HEIF animated drawables that are drastically smaller than GIFs, an API to mute vibration when capturing images, and bokeh.
Needless to say, the changes that Google have introduced so far are pretty good, for starters. But we also have to keep in mind that it is just a Developer's Preview and more changes will follow soon.
The Developer Preview is currently available for all devices starting from Pixel 2 and onwards.