Some of you might still be waiting for Android 10 to reach your handset, but believe it or not, Android 11 has already been announced and is available. Well, to some users.
Right now, it's just available in an early beta for developers, but Google has released a roadmap that will see a public beta launch in late spring ahead of a wide release later this year. Hopefully you at least have Android 10 before that happens!
It's early on, and Google hasn't released the full slate of details regarding new features and abilities, but we already have a sense of some of the cool additions that come along with Android 11. Here's a look at what to expect from the OS update, when it will release, and which phones it's expected to hit.
When will Android 11 be released?
Currently, Android 11 is available in a Developer Preview version only – and it will stay that way for a while. Google plans to offer updated versions in March and April, respectively, continually keeping the new OS version available only to professionals.
Starting in May, Google plans to release a Beta version that will be more widely available for folks who opt into the program. We'll see a couple revisions on that in the months to follow ahead of a planned Q3 rollout to the public… most likely alongside a Pixel 5.
What features does Android 11 add?
The initial Developer Preview is not chock full of new features and exciting additions, to be honest – but that doesn't mean that Android 11 will be a boring update. Most likely, Google will unveil the biggest enhancements at its I/O 2020 developers conference later this spring.
Some of the bits and pieces of the enhancements include enhanced 5G support and better support for different types of screens and device form factors. For now, these are some of the most interesting tweaks we've seen in Android 11 so far:
Conversation bubbles: Android 11 introduces a native chat bubble interface that's nearly identical to what Facebook's Messenger does, but now for Google's own Messages and potentially other apps. Messaging conversations are also now spotlighted in the notification shade.
Enhanced permissions: Android will give you better control over app permissions in 11, with the ability to allow access to your location, microphone, and/or camera just once instead of indefinitely.
Better OS updates: Google's Project Mainline initiative in Android 10 allowed for smoother updates to core device functionality by shifting some updates to the Play Store. Android 11 more than doubles that list so that phone owners don't have to wait for manufacturers to issue big OS updates to keep up-to-date.
Screen recording: This long-expected feature, which lets you easily record a video of whatever is happening on your screen, is back in action in the Android 11 Developer Preview. It's a niche feature, but one that ought to be in there.
Which devices will get Android 11?
As of now, the Developer Preview is only for Pixel phones – and not all Pixel phones, either. The original Google Pixel and Pixel XL have been left behind, so it's just the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4 models that made the cut for now.
We suspect that once Android 11 reaches the public Beta release, it ought to expand onto additional semi-recent devices, as Android 10 did last summer. Eventually, once the full version drops in Q3, Android 11 will gradually expand to recent flagships and mid-rangers, although that can typically be a pretty slow process. Fingers crossed that it's faster this time around.