Google Releases First Android 11 Developer Preview

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev, Mobile with 5 Comments

It’s landing almost a month earlier than usual, but Google today announced the release of Android 11 Developer Preview 1.

“Today, we’re releasing the first Developer Preview of Android 11, and building on a strong feedback cycle last year, we’re making this year’s preview available to you earlier than ever,” Google vice president Dave Burke writes in the announcement post, indicating that the release time frame is deliberate. “With Android 11 we’re keeping our focus on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while continuing to keep privacy and security a top priority. We’ve added multiple new features to help users manage access to sensitive data and files, and we’ve hardened critical areas of the platform to keep the OS resilient and secure. For developers, Android 11 has a ton of new capabilities for your apps, like enhancements for foldables and 5G, call-screening APIs, new media and camera capabilities, machine learning, and more.”

As is always the case, each Android developer preview represents an incomplete view of that version of the mobile OS. But here’s what Google is documenting this time around:

New display types. As expected, Android 11 will provide native support for new form factors and display types, but Google is only highlighting two—pinhole and waterfall screens—that are related to display cutouts for cameras, and not the folding/dual-screen capabilities I expected.

5G experiences. Android 11 will provide enhanced and updated connectivity APIs that support the faster speeds available in 5G networking. These include a dynamic meteredness API for checking whether the connection is unmetered and an updated bandwidth estimator API to make it easier to check the downstream/upstream bandwidth without having to poll the network or compute an estimate.

Conversational experiences. Android 11 will bring new conversational capabilities, such as a dedicated conversations section in the notification shade, the long-threatened Bubbles feature, the ability to insert images into inline notifications.

Neural Networks API 1.3. The Neural Networks API (NNAPI) is responsible for Android’s on-device machine learning capabilities, and it’s being updated with Quality of Service (QoS) and memory domain APIs, plus improved quantization support.

Privacy improvements. Android 11 brings temporary, one-time permissions for location, microphone, and camera so that apps will need to keep asking for permission if the user prefers that. Plus, scoped storage, another long-threatened feature, is making a comeback and will include several improvements, like opt-in raw file path access for media, an updated DocumentsUI, and batch edit operations in MediaStore.

Security improvements. Android 11 will include improvements to biometrics, platform hardening, secure storage, data sharing, and identity credentials, Google says.

There is a lot more, so check out the original post for details.

Developers that want to get started with Android 11 Developer Preview 1 will need Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a/3a XL, or Pixel 4/4 XL, or they can use the device emulators in Android Studio, which will need the new Android 11 Preview SDK and tools.  You can find out more at the Android Developers website.

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