Public Beta (Beta 3): 18 May 2016, with updates on 15 June and 18 July
Final Consumer Release: 22 August 2016
Android 8 Oreo
Developer Preview: 21 March 2017
Public Beta: 17 May 2017, with updates on 8 June and 24 July
Final Consumer Release: 21 August 2017
Android 9 Pie
Developer Preview: 7 March 2018
Public Beta: 8 May 2018, with updates on 6 June, 2 July and 25 July
Final Consumer Release: 6 August 2018
Developer Preview: 13 March 2019
Public Beta (Beta 3): 7 May 2019, with updates on 5 June, 10 July and 7 August
Final Consumer Release: 3 September 2019
Developer Preview 1: 19 February 2020
Developer Preview 2: 18 March 2020
Developer Preview 3: 23 April 2020
Public Beta 1: 10 June 2020
Public Beta 2: 8 July 2020
Public Beta 3 (Release Candidate Build): 6 August 2020
Final Consumer Release: 8 September 2020
Does Android 11 have any other names?
Nope! It’s just Android 11. Gone are the days of trying to guess which sweet treat Google is going to be naming the next release of Android after.
Fact is Google was always going to have a problem when it got to ‘Q’ in 2019, with Android 10 Quiche not having quite the same ring to it as Android 8 Oreo or Android 5 Lollipop. And, let’s face it, Google already struggled with Android Nougat in 2016, reaching out to the public for help in naming its next OS and then settling on a word half its customers couldn’t even pronounce, not to mention in 2018, the company further struggled to come up with anything more tempting than “Pie” for the letter P.
Here are the previous Android OS names:
Android 1.6 Donut
Android 2.0 Eclair
Android 2.2 Froyo
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Android 3 Honeycomb
Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Android 4.4 KitKat
Android 5 Lollipop
Android 6 Marshmallow
Android 7 Nougat
Android 8 Oreo
Android 9 Pie
What are the new features in Android 11?
New conversations features
One of the highlights of Android 11 is Bubbles, which sounds very much like a feature borrowed from Facebook Messenger; keeping conversations in view onscreen until you dismiss them. As you await a friend’s next reply you’ll be able to more easily get on with other things, without forgetting all about the ongoing chat.
Bubbles can also consolidate multiple conversations from different chat apps in one spot, which you can move around on-screen.
The notifications drop-down menu has also undergone a bit of a revamp; first with a new dedicated ‘Conversations’ section, which makes it easier to continue chatting with friends, and second with the ability to copy and paste images into replies right within the notification. You can tap a toggle to promote a conversation to a bubble, create a home screen shortcut for the conversation, silence or snooze notifications for the conversation, and mark a conversation as very important.
Android 11 offers a post-call screen to add a caller to contacts or mark as spam.
Enhanced media controls
If you have multiple media sources (Spotify, Netflix, YouTube etc.) open on your device, you can now swipe between the media controls for each source within the notifications shade.
You now have the option to route the audio of any media you’re currently enjoying to any local or connected audio output source – such as speakers and headphones – via the new media controls in the notifications panel.
Muted notifications during video recording
Android 11 is able to turn off vibration alerts for ringtones, alarms and notifications while the camera is operating. Other image and camera improvements include HEIF animated draw tables, a native image decoder and the ability for apps to access a camera’s bokeh mode for video and stills.
Existing Android users will be familiar with pop-ups that require their permission for an app to do a certain thing – such as access their location. Having last year added the ability to grant permissions only while the app is open, in Android 11 Google takes this up a gear with the ability to grant that permission on that occasion only.
If you don’t use a particular app that you’d previously given select permissions to, Android will automatically revoke those permissions; meaning you’ll have to manually reinvoke them should you go back to the long-untouched app in question.
Enhanced 5G support
Google has updated its connectivity APIs to take fuller advantage of the faster speeds of 5G. In particular, the Dynamic meteredness API can check whether you’re on an unmetered tariff and deliver higher-resolution and higher-quality content as appropriate, while the Bandwidth estimator API makes it easier to obtain download and upload speed data without needing to measure the network or the device.
Support for new screen types
Pinhole (where the selfie camera is housed in a small punch-hole cutout in the display) and waterfall (where the screens curve around the phone’s frame) screens are already catered for in existing APIs but without full functionality. New APIs allow waterfall screens to use the entire display – including the edges – with insets used to avoid complicating any interaction at the edges.
Power menu smart home controls
In Android 11, as well as being able to turn off or restart your device, along with gaining access to the emergency button, long-pressing on the power key now presents you with smartphone controls, as set up within Google Home.
With Android 11, Google can supply more devices with monthly security updates, as well as building more protections into the platform. It specifically calls out enhanced APIs for biometrics, now reaching more devices and supporting three levels of granularity for authenticator types; platform hardening, expanding its use of compiler-based santisers in security-critical components; secure storage and sharing of data, through the BlobstoreManager and identity credentials; adding support for secure storage and retrieval of verifiable ID documents.
Neural Networks API that assists in intensive machine learning operations on Android devices
Increased investment in Google Play System Updates to improve security, privacy and consistency
New processes that priority app compatibility to make updates faster and smoother
Lower-latency video decoding and HDMI low-latency mode
Not all Android 11 devices will have all the release’s features