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  • (upbeat music)

  • - The beta for the next version of Android,

  • which is Android 11,

  • is available for Pixel phones starting today.

  • Now, a bunch of Android 11 has already leaked, of course,

  • because Google, but it's official now.

  • So I wanna get into what the new features are.

  • Now, overall, my take is that Android

  • is a mature operating system,

  • which means that the fundamentals

  • are really not gonna change that much.

  • There are a few new important features

  • but the context here is that Android already does a lot.

  • And so a lot of the features

  • aren't necessarily about doing new things,

  • but helping you make sense of all of the things

  • that Android already does.

  • One of the biggest jobs that a mature operating system has

  • is managing complexity.

  • So here's a question, how well does Android 11

  • manage all of the things that Android does?

  • So to start, every version of Android

  • messes with notifications.

  • And I'm actually not complaining about this

  • because notifications are a huge source of complexity.

  • And I much prefer the year-over-year changes

  • that Google tries to make with Android to improve it

  • than the way that Apple does things

  • with the iPhone, which is

  • to almost never change anything about notifications.

  • See, notifications went from a way

  • for you to see your text messages

  • into this nightmare, catch-all of everything.

  • News, and media controls,

  • and thirsty apps trying to get you to re-engage

  • with their content, and alerts that apps

  • are using your background location.

  • And (sighs) it's just a lot.

  • So in Android 11,

  • Google is separating out your notifications

  • into three really clear and distinct sections

  • with big, obvious labels.

  • There are Conversations,

  • Alerting notifications, and Silent notifications.

  • And the new section here is Conversations,

  • which separates out the notifications from your chat apps

  • into their own section at the top,

  • and that lets you do a bunch of things

  • with those notifications.

  • The first thing is you can bubble those notifications,

  • which turns them into these like bubble chat heads

  • that sit on the top of other apps.

  • You might have seen it in apps like Facebook Messenger,

  • where there's this head floating around,

  • you can put it wherever you want,

  • you tap on it, and it opens up the conversation.

  • That's now going to become available

  • to any chat app on Android.

  • And by default, that's just gonna show

  • like the whole chat up inside little window,

  • but developers can customize it for it if they want.

  • The other thing that the Conversations lets you do

  • is you can long press on them,

  • and you can mark a person's conversation

  • inside a chat app as priority.

  • And what that means is they're gonna be able

  • to break through your do not disturb settings.

  • And also when you look at your little notification tray

  • at the top of your screen, you're gonna see their face

  • instead of just the icon for the app.

  • There are a few other new things with notifications,

  • so you can more easily control

  • where silent notifications show up.

  • You can keep them from showing up in your status bar

  • or on your lock screen.

  • You can easily switch an app

  • from alerting notification to silent notification

  • by long pressing on it, bringing up some options.

  • If you wanna get an app into a Conversations though,

  • you gotta wait for the developer

  • to update it to support that.

  • Google also took what used to be a really weird hacky thing

  • and they made it official.

  • You can go into your Settings

  • and find your Notification history.

  • So in case you accidentally dismiss notification,

  • you can go to Settings and find it again.

  • You also get a few more controls

  • over how do not disturb works

  • that lets you customize which apps

  • are able to break through do not disturb,

  • in addition to those priority conversations.

  • So there is one other thing

  • to talk about with notifications.

  • You used to have media playback control

  • in your notification shade,

  • and Google's now moving that up into the quick settings.

  • So it's sort of part of the notification shade,

  • but sort of not, anyway,

  • it's up there at the top now, and when you expand it down,

  • there's gonna be a little button that you can press,

  • and when you press it, it will let you choose

  • where your audio goes, Bluetooth headphones,

  • or speaker or wherever.

  • So that's notifications.

  • The next interaction zone that Google has beefed up

  • for Android 11 is the power menu.

  • It's the thing that you get

  • when you long press the power sleep wake button thing.

  • It has your usual power options like before,

  • Emergency, Power off, Restart.

  • There is lockdown but unfortunately,

  • it's hidden under a three dot menu.

  • Underneath that are your Google Wallet passes.

  • So your bank cards and your boarding passes

  • if you ever get to go on a plane again,

  • that's all stuff that we've seen before.

  • What's new is that Google

  • is putting smart home control buttons underneath that here.

  • So it's sort of like what the iPhone does

  • with home controls and control center.

  • But on Android, it's in this power menu.

  • You can customize what buttons show up here,

  • you can just tap on stuff to turn lights on and off,

  • you can drag your finger to change brightness.

  • You can also just long press to go in

  • and see more options and so on.

  • This section is powered by the Google Home app.

  • And that's good because it's one less thing

  • that you have to set up.

  • But it does mean that I think that different companies

  • are gonna do different things with this power menu.

  • So if you buy a Samsung phone,

  • I would expect to see Samsung Pay

  • and Samsung Smart Home controls in the section here.

  • So that's notifications and power.

  • There's a couple other zones to talk about.

  • There's the home screen, and one of the things

  • you can do here is replace your dot

  • with suggested apps from Android, you know,

  • contextual guesses of what you're gonna want to open next.

  • And I've had it on and I don't really love it.

  • These guesses at what app I'm gonna want to open

  • usually aren't really that accurate.

  • There's also the multitasking screen

  • or you might call it the recent screen,

  • and there's three new buttons on the bottom here.

  • So if you tap screenshot,

  • it pulls a screenshot of the app

  • that's front most in multitasking.

  • You can tap Select,

  • and it will show you what text

  • is selectable to directly copy in your clipboard.

  • Or you can tap Share,

  • and it'll grab a screenshot of that front most app

  • and bring up the Share sheet automatically.

  • Speaking of screenshots,

  • when you take one, it no longer goes into notifications,

  • it creates this little interface

  • down in the lower left hand corner

  • where you can tap Share or Edit.

  • It's just like the way that the iPhone does it.

  • So those are the major zones,

  • notifications, power menu, home screen,

  • and the new recent screen,

  • and all of them are designed to help you make sense

  • of all the features that Android is now throwing at you.

  • And I've got a whole theory about how it relates to iOS

  • and the iPad and desktops,

  • and it's all too much for this video,

  • we have a lot more features of Android 11 to go through,

  • so let's keep going.

  • So location permissions are getting stricter in Android 11.

  • From now on, apps can only ask for three different kinds.

  • One time, while the app is open, or just straight up deny.

  • That one time thing is new and it's something

  • that the iPhone already has.

  • Now, if an app really,

  • really wants constant background permission,

  • it needs to send you deep into Android settings

  • where you turn on permanent access there.

  • Also, if you hit deny a couple of times

  • when the app asks you for location permission,

  • Android will just tell the app to stop asking you

  • and it won't be able to do it again.

  • All right, let's see what else.

  • Well, we've seen a bunch of stuff in the betas

  • that are hopefully gonna stick around,

  • but there's no guarantee.

  • So I'm talking about screen recording.

  • It's here in the beta.

  • It was in the beta last year and they yanked it,

  • but I hope it sticks around this year.

  • We've also seen evidence of native scrolling screenshots

  • which is gonna let you grab the entire web page.

  • You should be able to pin apps to the Share sheet

  • so that you don't have to depend on Google's predictions,

  • you can just pin the thing you actually wanna share to.

  • Airplane mode won't disable Bluetooth

  • if you don't want it to.

  • There's still picture in picture,

  • but now you can resize the video.

  • Dark mode has better scheduling options.

  • There's more icon styles for Pixels theming.

  • Google has this thing called Project Mainline

  • that lets them update system level components

  • without updating the entire operating system.

  • And there's 12 more modules

  • that are getting added to that.

  • Gboard is getting some updates

  • for I think all Android phones,

  • they've got more emoji kitchen fun little options,

  • and it's getting autofill.

  • There's just a lot of little things.

  • (sighs) So that's everything in Android 11.

  • Or at least it's all the stuff I can think to talk about.

  • And if you just look at the bullet list

  • of all of those features, you'll see

  • that it's a lot of filling out the corners

  • and adding new little bits here and there.

  • But like I said,

  • I think that Android is a mature operating system,

  • so that makes sense.

  • Beyond those new features though,

  • what Android 11 is really about is making the stuff

  • that you actually want to do a little bit easier to find.

  • So say you wanna text with somebody that's important to you,

  • their face might be right there in your status bar

  • if they texted you, or their face might be in a bubble

  • that's floating over the apps you're using right now,

  • so you can get to it right away.

  • Smart light controls finally aren't buried

  • inside the Google Home app.

  • They're right there in the power menu.

  • And that power menu zone, it sort of makes sense to me.

  • Google says it's like your keys and your wallet.

  • It's the stuff that you put in your pocket

  • to interact with the physical world.

  • And I guess that's why that stuff isn't in quick settings.

  • I mean, I could go on, but the point

  • is that those little decisions of what goes where and why,

  • that's the subtle stuff that ultimately makes a phone

  • feel either intuitive or confusing.

  • And there still is some confusing stuff here.

  • I think settings in Android

  • is getting a little bit out of control.

  • But I can see where Google's trying to go.

  • Like I said at the top, if you have a Pixel,

  • you can install the beta on your phone right now.

  • It's also coming to a few other Android phones this summer,

  • so keep an eye out for news about that.