Google today launched the first beta version of Android 11 with the final SDK and NDK APIs as well as new features 10. The company has also released improvements to Android Studio (including importing ML models), Kotlin coroutines, Jetpack and Jetpack Compose updates, and an updated Google Play console in beta.
If it looks a lot, it’s because it is. All of this would normally have been presented at the Google I / O Developer Conference, where the first beta version of Android usually starts, but as you know, the event was canceled due to the coronavirus. The company then planned to host the # Android11: the beta launch show instead, but adjourned because of widespread American protests against systemic racism and police brutality.
Today Google also canceled this event for online developers:
The global Android developer community has always been a powerful force in shaping the direction of the Android platform; every voice counts for us. We canceled the virtual launch event to allow people to focus on important discussions about racial justice in the United States. Instead, today we are releasing the beta version of Android 11 in a very different form, via short videos and web pages that you can consume at your own pace when the time is right for you. Millions of developers around the world are starting their own business with Android, and we are releasing the beta today to continue supporting these developers with the latest tools. We humbly thank those who are able to offer their comments on this version.
Despite the delays, Google insists that Android 11 is still on schedule (the final is scheduled for the third quarter). You can download Android 11 Beta 1 now via the Android Beta Program, which lets you get the first versions of Android via live updates on select devices. If you have any of the previous previews, Google will also push a live update (OTA). The version includes the final SDK with system images for Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, as well as the official Android emulator. These eight Pixel phones are a tiny slice of the more than 2.5 billion active Android devices per month – the main reason why developers are impatient to see what’s new on the platform in the first place. While these are the phones on which Google has limited the first four previews from Android 11 developers, the company is working with its OEM partners to bring Beta 1 to more devices in the coming weeks.
Features of Android 11 Beta 1
Android 11 Developer Preview 1 has brought 5G experiences, people and conversation improvements, Neural Networks API 1.3, privacy and security features, Google Play system updates, application compatibility, connectivity, image and camera enhancements, and low latency adjustments. DP2 builds on those with foldable, call screening and more Neural Networks API improvements. DP3 included updates to reasons for exiting the application, GWP-ASan heap analysis, Android Debug Bridge (ADB) incremental debugging, wireless debugging, and data access auditing. DP4 had no new features. Beta 1 builds on all of this.
To facilitate compatibility testing for beta 1 features, Google has decided to make most breakthrough changes for developers until they target Android 11. This way, they will only take effect if you explicitly modify your manifesto. The team also added a new user interface in the development options to allow you to activate most of these changes for testing.
Here are the 10 new features in Beta 1. Google has divided them into three themes: people, controls, and privacy.
Features of Android 11 people
Android 11 is supposed to be “more people-oriented and more expressive,” so that “the OS that can recognize and prioritize the most important people in your life.” In other words, expect a lot of messaging features:
- Conversation notifications appear in a dedicated section at the top of the shadow, with a people-focused design and conversation-specific actions, such as opening the conversation as a bubble, creating a conversation shortcut on the home screen or setting a reminder.
- Bubbles help users keep conversations visible and accessible during multitasking. Google wants chat and messaging apps to use the Bubbles API on Android 11 notifications.
- Consolidated keyboard suggestions let autofill apps and input method editors (IMEs) safely offer context-specific entities and strings right in an IME’s suggestion strip.
- Voice access, for people who control their phone entirely by voice, now includes a visual cortex on the device that understands screen content and context, and generates labels and hotspots for accessibility controls .
Android 11 controls functionality
Android 11 makes it easy to control your smart devices:
- Device controls help users access and control their connected devices. Just long press the power button to instantly display device controls. Applications can use a new API to appear in controls.
- Media controls allows you to change the output device for audio or video content, whether it’s headphones, speakers or even the TV. You can activate it today from the developer options, and it will be activated by default in a future beta release.
Privacy Features of Android 11
Android 11 also brings more control over sensitive permissions and keeps devices more secure with faster updates:
- Single authorization allows you to give an app access to the microphone, camera, or device location just once. The app can request permissions again the next time it is used.
- Automatic resetting of authorizations: If you haven’t used an app for a long time, Android 11 “automatically resets” all run permissions associated with the app and notifies you. The app can request permissions again the next time you use the app.
- Background location: Developers must obtain approval to access the background location in their app to prevent misuse, but Google will not apply this previously announced policy for existing apps until 2021.
- Google Play system updates, launched last year, accelerates updates to key operating system components to devices in the Android ecosystem. Google doubles the number of modules that can be upgraded. The 12 new modules will help improve privacy, security and consistency for users and developers.
Android 11 beta calendar
Google launch Android 11 DP1 in February, the first ever Android developer preview, Android 11 DP2 in March, and Android 11 DP3 in April. Android 11 Beta 1 was due to arrive in May, but we have Android 11 DP4 as an interim measure.
Last year, there were six betas. This year it looks like there will be four developer previews and three betas. Here is the calendar for Android 11:
- February: developer 1 overview (start of basic construction focused on developer comments, with new features, APIs and behavior changes.)
- March: Developer Preview 2 (incremental update with additional functionality, APIs and behavioral changes.)
- April: Developer Preview 3 (incremental update for stability and performance.)
- May: Developer Preview 4 (application compatibility and performance improvements.)
- June: Beta 1 (SDK and NDK APIs final; Google Play publication open for applications targeting Android 11.)
- July: Beta 2 (Platform stability milestone. API and final behaviors.)
- August: Beta 3 (Release build of the candidate.)
- Q3: final version (Android 11 version for AOSP and ecosystem.)
If you haven’t started testing yet, now is the time. After downloading beta 1, update your Android Studio environment with the SDK (installation guide). Then install your current production application and test the user flows. For a complete overview of new features, see the API overview, API reference, and behavior changes.
Android Studio, Kotlin and Jetpack
Last month Google launched Android Studio 4.0, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE). But Google already wants your help to test versions 4.1 and 4.2.
Android Studio 4.1 Beta and Android Studio 4.2 Canary add the following features:
- Wireless debugging on ADB, Database Inspector and Dependency Injection (Dagger) tools.
- The Android emulator is now hosted directly in the IDE. The tests now run side by side so you can see the results from multiple devices at the same time. Google has also improved the device manager.
- You can now import your models for ML Kit and TensorFlow Lite directly into the IDE.
- You can expect Kotlin symbol processing, caching of the task graph in Gradle, and faster deployment of apps to all devices on Android 11. The new build analyzer can help you diagnose where your build may be bottlenecks.
- Updated performance profiler user interface, revised system tracking tool, and support for native memory profiling.
Speaking of the Kotlin programming language, Google announced today that over 70% of the top 1,000 apps on Google Play use Kotlin (up from 60% in December). Jetbrains released Kotlin 1.4 with faster code completion, more powerful type inference enabled by default, function interfaces, a mixture of names and positioning arguments.
Next, Google now officially recommends Kotlin Coroutines, a language feature that makes concurrent calls much easier to write and understand. The company rewrote Paging 3 to be Kotlin-first with full support for coroutines. In short, Android developers can now more easily write and read simultaneous calls. Google has also integrated support for coroutines in three of the most used Jetpack libraries: Lifecycle, WorkManager and Room.
Speaking of Jetpack, a set of components to speed up application development, it has two new libraries: Hilt and App Startup. The first is a developer-friendly wrapper above Dagger for dependency injections, and the second helps application and library developers improve application startup times by optimizing initial libraries.
Jetpack Compose meanwhile, it is now in Developer Preview 2 with new features and new tools to try: interoperability with views, animations, tests, layout of constraints, list of adapters, user interface components material, text and editable text. Google promises that Jetpack Compose will launch in alpha this summer and be released in version 1.0 next year.
Google Play console redesigned
The Google Play console is what developers use to manage all of the publishing phases of their apps and games as part of their business. Google redesigned it using Material design, the user interface design system for all Google branded products. The console is now also responsive and supports languages from right to left.
Google says that every page of the Google Play console “has been improved” and that features such as pre-launch reports, Android vital settings, statistics and Play game services are now more usable. In addition, new features allow you to:
- Research, discover and understand important features.
- Find new tips on policy changes, version status, tips, and user feedback.
- Better understand performance information thanks to new acquisition reports.
- Inspect each of your app sets and understand how Google Play optimizes artifacts for your users.
- Let everyone on your team use the features of Play Console with new user management options.
Google has not specified when the console will be out of beta, but it welcomes your comments. here.