With so many Android devices still waiting on Android 10, it’s hard to believe the first preview builds of Android 11 are already available. There’s currently no official release date for Android 11 and it’s going to be a while before general users will have chance to check out a public beta version, but early testers have already uncovered some of the features Android 11 will have when it launches later this year. Here are some of the most notable:
- Accident tracking (Pixel only): All Pixel devices will receive a version of the previously Pixel 4-exclusive car safety app once they’re upgraded with Android 11—though users can also install an early version of the app right now, if they’d prefer not to wait.
- Chat bubbles: Older versions of Android used Facebook Messenger-like bubbles for quickly accessing text message conversations, and they seem to be making a comeback in Android 11. Exactly how they’ll work and what they’ll look like is unclear, however.
- Customizable Share menu: Users will be able to personalize the apps and contacts listed in the Android 11 Share menu.
- Dark Theme timers: While there are already apps that can do this on Android 10, it appears automated timers for turning dark theme on or off will be natively available in Android 11.
- 5G connectivity enhancements: The Android 11 preview build contains new APIs that should make it easier for developers and manufacturers to develop 5G apps and features. Buying a 5G phone is still probably a bad idea, though, even if Android 11 makes them a bit better.
- Motion Sense media playback controls (Pixel only): Pixel phones will also be able to play/pause audio playback using simple gesture controls, rather than having to tap the notification bar controls.
- New app permission options: Android 11 looks like it will let users grant one-time app permissions. For example, if you only want to let an app access your camera at specific times, you’ll be able to tap an “Only This Time” option. The app will be able to use the feature once, then will have to ask again in the future.
- Screen recording: Users will be able to record their screen activity using the OS’s built-in feature, instead of a third-party app. This feature was originally planned for Android 10 but slipped back to 11 instead (at least for now).
It’ll be interesting to see how these features evolve and what other additions show up—or get removed—between now at the full Android 11 release—not to mention the expect Android 11 overview at this year’s Google I/O event in May.
If you really want to try Android 11 out early, you can attempt to download and install the current developer build on your Pixel phone (only Pixel 2, 3, 3a, and 4 devices are supported), but make sure you know what you’re getting into first.
Installing a developer build is different from enrolling your device into an Android beta test, not to mention much more complicated. If you try out any of the super-early Android 11 builds, you’ll be forced to factory reset your phone, so backup your device before attempting this. Google also strongly recommends you don’t use the Android 11 developer build on your main phone; Android 11 is still too early on in development for most apps or features to function properly (if at all).