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Android 11 aka Android R: What to expect from Google’s next update

Android 11 update to launch this year.
Android 11 update to launch this year. (Reuters)

Google’s Android 11 is set to roll out later this year. Here’s what you can expect.

Each year Google launches a new Android iteration for millions of smartphone users around the world. This year, Google is going to roll out Android 11, also known as Android R. Google last year embraced the numeric nomenclature for its Android iterations, doing away with naming after desserts.

There's always fanfare around the launch of new Android iteration. The Covid-19, however, has taken away the buzz around the software update. Android 11 was supposed to debut at Google's I/O developer conference which has been cancelled altogether. Android 11, however, is still on its way for the commercial roll out and already multiple developer previews have been rolled out.

Security and privacy

Google has doubled down on the security and privacy features with the last two and three Android iterations. Android 11 is going to be no different. This time around you can expect better biometrics security on Android phones. A new BiometricPrompt will now have three authenticator versions - strong, weak, and device credential.

Android 11 also features changes to how the mobile apps can request background location permission from users. There's also focus on how the apps can access camera and microphone data from users. Apps that interact with other apps on the same device will also be part of the security features.

Improved 5G

Google is gearing up for a big ecosystem of 5G smartphones. With Android 11, Google will allow high resolution video streaming, and gaming streaming, and interlinking the next gen network with Wi-Fi. The company is testing a feature called Bandwidth estimator to allow developers gauge the network speed on a device and optimise the app experience accordingly.

AirDrop alternative

Android users have long relied on third-party apps for faster content sharing with nearby devices. Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have tried to plug this gap by forming a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Transmission Alliance. The technology allows seamless and faster content sharing with the nearby devices across these three brands. A native Android feature will mean more users can access it instantly.

Google's 'Nearby Sharing'or 'Fast Share' has already been confirmed in the recent developer version of Android 11.

"When sharing files with Fast Share between two Pixel 4 devices, the operation completes successfully, but the UI on the device which receives the file states that it did not receive the file," reads the Android 11 release notes.

Smoother OS updates

Google is now going to make A/B partition compulsory for seamless OS updates. Google already supported the partition but never made it mandatory for OEMs. With the Android 11, users can experience faster software download and installation experience.

Chat bubbles and more

With Android 11, users are going to see some UI changes as well. Already, Google has confirmed working on chat bubble notifications. The company is also working on expanding notification panel for instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and other chat aps. Recently, we came across a refined version of screenshot on Android 11.

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