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Why is Android 11 a big deal?


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Rohith Bhaskar
An unapologetic gamer at heart and a writer by profession, Rohith is best suited to enjoy a hot cuppa in bed and avoids any strenuous physical activities.

There is still time to bid Android 10 adieu but Google has already started down the path which will coalesce with the release of Android 11 in Q3 this year. Google has officially launched the first developer preview for the next major iteration in the global conglomerate that is Android. 

Now before you rush over to Google’s download page and flash yourself the preview on your Pixel devices. There are a few things you should know. These first batch of releases aren’t for consumers or daily use, Google makes that very clear. These system images are meant for developers to test apps and polish upcoming updates to make sure they run smoothly. 

Having said all of that, there are a lot of interesting new features that will expand Google’s mobile OS substantially. 

5G: The Global Buzzword

With 5G looming over the horizon in most countries (India will take some time to get in on the act), it makes sense Google will start off its official blog by touting 5G specific functionality. This includes Dynamic meteredness, which will check if a connection is unmetered and automatically use higher quality data. Bandwidth Estimator checks the downstream/upstream bandwidth without the need to poll networks or compute data at an estimate. 

New Screen Types

A new API checks for the type of screen on your smartphone and automatically sizes your app to use the entire screen space including the edges. It is also possible to manage user interaction near the edges. There is now native support for waterfall and teardrop screens. 

Overhauled Communications and Conversations

Android 11 will include a dedicated conversations space in the notification shade. It allows a user to find ongoing conversations with contacts in their favourite apps. Bubbles keep conversations in view, specifically when multi-tasking. If the developer has included support on his app, Android 11 will allow you to insert attachments in the notifications shade itself. 

Updates to Project Mainline

Google is also expanding the amount of modules it can update via the Google Play Store from 10 to 22, which means Google can roll out updates to critical parts themselves through the Play Store without waiting for OEMs. 

New Security Features

There is now one-time permission support for sensitive data and improvements to how data is managed on external storage. Google will also expand support for biometrics and add support for different levels of granularity (strong, weak and device credentials). 

Optimised Machine Learning 

Google has also updated its Machine Learning APIs to better handle data with features like Quality of Service APIs that support priority and timeout for data executions as well as Expanded Quantization Support with support for signed integers that are faster than float numbers and scale well to smaller models with faster inference. 

There is tons more new under the hood which you can glance at here, but since this is a developer preview, most of it is to make life easier for developers that create apps for the platform, which is win-win for all of us.

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