Google is ever on the quest to improve the general perception of security and privacy on its mobile operating system. The latest effort is called “Protected by Android” and that branding looks set for a broader rollout.
The Android YouTube channel today uploaded a 50-second video about how the OS “is all about keeping you and your information safe so you can focus on what matters most.” Still images of people using smartphones – presumably Android-powered ones, but we’re pretty sure there’s one of an iPhone 8 Plus at 0:05 – with short captions are used throughout:
From detecting and defeating bad apps to helping you control your personal information, you’re always protected by Android.
A slick animation sees the green Android head morphs into a checkmarked shield: “Whatever you’re up to, you’ve got peace of mind when you’re protected by Android.” Highlighted platform and ecosystem features include:
Verified by Play Protect: “You’re safe from malware and harmful apps”
Monthly security updates: “Defended by non-stop security”
Location access permissions: “And in control of your personal information”
Besides this ad, Google at I/O 2022 showed off Android 13’s upcoming unified “Security & privacy” settings page. Underneath the prominent “Scan device” button there’s the same “Protected by Android” branding and shield.
The page will be anchored by new action cards that notify you of critical steps you should take to address any safety risks. In addition to notifications to warn you about issues, we’ll also provide timely recommendations on how to enhance your privacy.
After waiting what felt like ages, Android 12 has arrived with a literal mountain of changes, tweaks, and tuning to sink your teeth into. We’ve whittled or distilled our deep dive down to a selection of 20 of the best features added in Android 12 — features we think you’ll really love right away.
We’re going beyond Material You here though. The wallpaper-based theming approach sure is different to what we’ve seen on Pixel hardware in years prior, but there are some things to love and even a few things to hate — a lack of independent customization being one sore point for just about everyone.
Even so, selecting 20 of the top features in Android 12 is no easy task. With over 100 new user-facing additions, functions, and tweaks, there is so much here to try out for yourself. We have done the hard work, so you don’t have to.
The fact that it has taken until Android 12 to even get a dedicated one-handed mode in AOSP is quite shocking. Then when you consider the way it has been implemented owes a lot to iOS and the “Reachability” mode, and you’ll scratch your head wondering why we have waited to get the option.
However long the wait, it’s just nice to have the option to use larger smartphones without requiring hand gymnastics or huge hands. Unfortunately, you cannot access the one-handed mode unless you are happy to use gesture navigation.
Yet another feature that has been so long in the making that we were beginning to wonder if it would ever arrive. You might not even remember Quick tap as it was originally codenamed “Columbus.” Basically, this new gesture lets you double-tap the back of your Pixel to do things like activating the flashlight, activating the Google Assistant, taking screenshots, or launching an app.
It took Google so long to implement that iOS has had the option for over a year at this point. You need to enable the feature, and it’s a great way to access common parts of Android without needing to unlock your device.
Microphone/camera access dots
People are rightly taking privacy on their smartphones and connected devices more seriously. The number of permissions that many apps request upon first launch and accepted without much thought can be remedied. If an app is concurrently or has very recently accessed any of your on-device cameras or the microphones, you’ll see a small green dot or icon at the upper-right of your smartphone display.
This is just a quick indicator that an app or service has accessed either hardware. Expanding the notification shade and tapping the icon informs you just which app has done so. An extended feature as part of the wider Privacy controls lest you quickly disable or enable Microphone and Camera access from the Quick Toggles section on a whim.
If you’re a big mobile gamer then the dedicated Game dashboard will be a very important new addition. Built directly into Do Not Disturb mode, Game dashboard brings a floating pop-up menu with a few extra tweaks and controls to enhance your mobile gaming.
This allows you to screen record, get frame rate indicators and ensures that any incoming calls and texts are silencing when you’re deep into your favorite mobile games.
Picture-in-picture mode tweaks/tuning
Android 12 brings some enhancements to the picture-in-picture mode, which makes a big difference to the experience. To better fit with the rest of the “rounded” aesthetic, the playback windows do away with sharp corners with what could be considered a more “pill-shaped” player.
There is a new ability to “stash” a playing video so that UI portions are not obstructed. This means that background playback doesn’t affect anything you’re currently doing. When you dismiss or close a playing window, the animation envelops the player and it snaps or “pops” out of view.
The process of opening an app from a URL should be much easier with “Verified link” in Android 12. Effectively, these are URLs that specifically state that it should open an app and are able to bypass the old “open with” dialog that would show on previous versions of Android.
You likely won’t even notice the feature in action as it just acts automatically and streamlines your day-to-day UI experience. Heading into the Settings app, you can change the behavior of verified links on an app-by-app basis.
Link/image sharing from Recents menu
To save some time, you can quickly grab web page links and images on web pages or in apps courtesy of a quick-select option within the Recent apps screen. When viewing the Recents section, web pages will include a “link” icon or an “image” icon.
Tapping the “link” icon brings up a color-coordinated site link that can be copied or shared directly. Alternatively, you can drag the link icon to a recent contact or into a “more” option, which will launch the wider Share Sheet.
When tapping the “image” icon a similar menu will launch but this will include “Lens” and “Save” options. Similarly, dragging downwards opens up three recent contacts or apps with the ability to drag into a “more” option which also launches a wider Share Sheet.
Yet another long-overdue addition but an important one nonetheless. Scrolling screenshots are finally here in Android 12 and represents one of the top or most requested features over the past few years. The implementation is not dissimilar to how it has been added in various third-party Android skins from the likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi.
Just take a screenshot and if the app or screen can be expanded, you will get a “Capture more” toggle appearing in the bottom-left preview pop-up. At the moment, this doesn’t work everywhere. A case in point is that of Chrome, which isn’t yet working with the Scrolling screenshot feature.
Ongoing call chip
Although this feature is not completely reliant on Android 12, when using Google Phone as your default dialer a status bar “chip” will give you at-a-glance information on call progress/timings. This does appear to adapt or change based upon Dynamic Color theming on devices where color-tuning and accenting is currently supported.
This works as a semi-replacement for the pop-up “bubbles” that offers call controls and gives quick access to return to a call in-progress. Unlike bubbles, a status bar call chip fully minimizes phone calls without affecting any other apps you have open or are using at a particular point in time. Tapping reopens your call and minimizing or opening another app will return the call to the status bar chip.
Universal device search
Provided you use the Pixel Launcher as your default home screen, when accessing the app drawer there is an expanded Universal device search option within Android 12. This expanded search lets you find contacts, messages, email, and apps so long as you use the default launcher on Pixel phones.
It’s worth noting that you can access the feature automatically by enabling the keyboard each time you swipe up into the Pixel Launcher app drawer. Alternately, you can just access via the search bar at the top of the app drawer as and when you see fit.
Face control auto-rotate
To help ensure that your phone is in the right orientation all the time auto-rotate has been given a big boost with the ability to activate face controlled rotation. The feature uses the selfie camera to orientate in conjunction with the accelerometer for even more accurate auto-rotate than using the accelerometer alone.
If you often watch YouTube or other video content in landscape mode then this is a great added feature. You can still use the standard auto-rotate mode or the quick toggles to snap to landscape orientation if you prefer that method.
While the Gboard redesign is not technically part of the Android 12 update, the changes are only available on devices with the most recent OS. Top of the new features in this Android 12-specific Gboard overall is full compatibility with Material You theming and Dynamic Color tweaks.
If you like rounded or soft corners, the new Gboard will really appeal. All of the tweaks are most prominent when using your on-device light theme.
If you are using your phone in a dark or low-light environment and want to quickly adjust the screen brightness, “Extra dim” allows you to do so with just a single tap. You can customize the luminance level or brightness of your display to a preset level of your choosing with a single button press.
Security and personal safety features have been elevated in priority within Android 12. While this might not seem like a big deal, the Emergency SOS feature is one of the top new additions for personal safety and peace of mind.
You can press the power button quickly five times or more to have your device emit a loud sound and countdown alarm before calling emergency services or a predetermined number of your choice. This will call for help, but your device will need to be unlocked if you choose a number that is not directly to emergency services.
Approximate or precise location controls
Privacy is one of the core tenets of the Android 12 update, and this means a number of new features are coming to your smartphone including the ability to give apps and services access to “approximate” or “precise” location data.
This includes a new pop-up with a new animation to indicate the inherent differences when apps request your location. For apps that only require a locale or region data, this is a great way to conceal or protect your location without losing access to in-app features or functions.
New pop-up Power menu
Every year the Power menu on Android seems to receive a facelift and the latest looks the best so far despite a few substantial changes. Cards & Passes and smart home controls are now accessible in separate lockscreen toggles leaving the Power menu to be just that – a place to access device power controls.
This simplification and separation mean that it is abundantly clear just what the pop-up offers. While the previous version in Android 11 felt like a “hub” for some incompatible UI and system controls. Now there is no confusion and it’s all the better for it.
Editor available from Share Sheet
When sharing an image, be that a direct screenshot or even just an image from your gallery, an editor has been added to allow you to do things like add emoji, text, and draw without needing to first edit your image or screenshot.
For those wondering why this is one of the top features in Android 12, it means you can just add or tweak things right before you send them on. Not only does this save time, it makes things a lot easier across the board.
Adaptive charging tweaks
While you likely won’t see the benefits initially, Adaptive Charging has now been tuned to ensure that your smartphone battery lifespan is considered when the feature is activated in Android 12.
Adaptive charging slows the charging speed between the 80 and 100% thresholds and, in turn, helps reduce the wear and tear on your Pixel internal battery. This charging process should more closely match when your on-device alarm when your phone is placed on charge overnight.
Face controls in Android Accessibility Suite
Expanding on the growing suite of accessibility features Android 12, a new “Camera Switch” allows you to control your phone with facial expressions via the selfie camera. The facial expressions that can be performed include opening your mouth, smiling, raising your eyebrows, and looking left, right, or up.
The feature will, by default, ask for the user to set expressions for next, select, and “pause,” which stops the phone from recognizing other gestures temporarily. Other actions include previous, touch & hold, scroll forward/backward, home, back, notifications, quick settings, and overview/multitasking.
On/off labels in Quick Settings
Simple. Effective. The new pill-shaped Quick Settings toggles now have an “on” or “off” indicator underneath to make it even more obvious if something is activated or not. You might not understand why this is a nice addition, but for accessibility and those with vision-related issues it makes it explicit rather than a highlighted button accent.
The fact that we haven’t seen a stable Android 12 release means that at least Samsung has the opportunity to catch up to Google with their One UI 4.0 Beta 2 update.
Although it’s quite unlikely, we could have a situation where the first stable Android 12 update comes to a non-Pixel device. That would be a real shock, but given that Samsung is only pushing the second One UI 4.0 beta based upon Android 12, we’d be very surprised, to say the least.
Here’s everything notable in the latest Android 12-based update for Samsung Galaxy devices:
A huge component of Android 12 on Pixel phones is now available as part of One UI 4.0 Beta 2 but with a few Samsung-ish tweaks in tow. “Color theme,” as Samsung has renamed it, is the Korean firm’s take on Dynamic Color and the “Monet” theming system seen on Pixel hardware.
From your homescreen, long-press in an empty space or pinch to zoom outwards and head to Wallpapers > Color theme. From this new panel you’ll be able to choose a three-color theme based upon your on-device wallpaper. You can leave it as the preset blue, white, and black setup or select one of up to four patterns determined by your device.
You’ll see a nice preview pane above showing just what colors will be adopted across your device too. The effect isn’t nearly as obvious as it is on Pixels, but it does work across almost all core One UI 4.0 system areas — including notification toggles and the lockscreen.
It’s worth noting that the change is very noticeable but not quite as extensive as you might expect. Instead, it’s more of an accent addition that tweaks some UI elements but doesn’t appear to work with any of Google’s recently updated and tuned first-party applications including Messages, Gmail and many more.
You’ll still see the Material You tweaks on those apps, but for now at least, most will just adhere to the stock or standard colors applied. Some apps are fully themed but will depend heavily upon which version you have installed or have updated. A fine example is the Google Podcasts app, which will adjust based upon your wallpaper-based “Color theme” accenting.
Because of the inherent changes to apps as a result of your system accent color, “Color theme” changes just how you’ll experience Android 12 on your Samsung Galaxy device. Google is pushing it hard for Pixel, and it was initially expected to be limited to Made by Google devices but the arrival here in One UI 4.0 Beta 2 is far earlier than expected.
To explain, “RAM Plus” is a feature that uses a portion of your on-device storage to create “virtual RAM” that ups the limit on your Galaxy smartphone. For higher-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones in excess of 8-12GB of RAM, this probably isn’t even an issue, but for the low-end devices with hardware limits, this could be a real way to expand or improve general performance levels.
In One UI 4.0 Beta 2 you can’t actually disable “RAM Plus” as it’s simply enabled by default. You can see just how much space is being used by heading to Settings > Device care > Memory. Here you’ll be able to clear or free up RAM as well as see just how much “virtual memory” is being adopted where the system deems necessary.
We’re not sure if this will decrease or automatically disable if you lack the available space, but it appears to be capped at 4GB. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the same as physically adding 4GB of RAM to your device, but it might help if heavy apps are taking up system resources or you want to play more demanding games and are happy to sacrifice other app performance levels. It’s worth noting that this has already been released to some mid-rangers from Samsung, including the Galaxy A52 and even the brand-new Z Fold 3, but joining the main One UI 4.0 build could expand it to all devices.
Enhanced video calling options and effects
When initiating a video call, you have more options at your fingertips as part of the “Video call effects” floating panel after updating to One UI 4.0 Beta 2. These include the ability to adjust background blur effects or add a color/image. Effectively, this simply mimics the kind of things you can already do in the various calling apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and others, but this works on any app that your Galaxy device detects as a video calling app.
Enhancing those controls is a new “Mic mode” option that lets you choose just what audio is picked up when making video calls. There’s a “Standard” mode that works just as you expect, a “Voice focus” option that attempts to cut out any annoying background noise but a neat option for group or family calls is an option labeled “All sound.” When making large group calls — something fairly normal since the start of the pandemic — this might help as it boosts the audio picked up in the vicinity of your phone.
Gallery metadata editing
It’s almost as if Samsung lifted the ability to edit and adjust the time and date metadata from images in the Gallery app right from Google Photos — although it’s simply a highly requested feature. Tapping the overflow menu and then selecting details opens up the metadata menu for any image within the Samsung Gallery app.
From here you’re able to edit everything from the photo name, the location it was taken, and even the time and date — complete with Dynamic Color supporting time and date picker. Not having to upload to Google Photos or use another third-party app is likely a massive added feature for many that use the default gallery app on their Galaxy devices.
Android 12 easter egg with Dynamic Color
Not necessarily a massive update but provided you are using “Color theme” on your device, the Android 12 easter egg will adhere to your preset theme — just like it does on Pixel smartphones running the Android 12 Beta. Is this is an important change? No, but it’s nice all the same.
Should I install One UI 4.0 Beta 2 on my Galaxy S21?
If you want to try this modest set of additional features alongside the previous — and more extensive add-ons — then you’ll need to sign up the One UI 4.0 Beta via the Samsung Members app. At this stage it has only rolled out in the US and UK, but more regions will get access to this Android 12 preview over the coming days.
However, at this stage, we’d suggest holding on a little longer. Although this update includes a number of bug fixes, performance can be quite unstable at times with texture pop-in and lag in certain apps when scrolling. Beta 3 will hopefully add a bit more stability.
Breaking from the recent yearly release cadence, the next version of Android to release might be a mid-cycle bump — an “Android 12.1,” if you will — rather than Android 13.
By all measures, Android 12 is a significant release for Google’s phones, among other things, revamping the design with “Material You,” which matches the system and your apps to your wallpaper’s colors. In the coming months, we should see more of how Android 12 will improve other companies’ phones, with Samsung set to beta test One UI 4.0 in the next few weeks.
Normally, this would be about the time that we should set our sights on 2022’s Android release, presumed to be Android 13. In fact, Android 13’s internal dessert name, Tiramisu, has been discovered.
However, it seems there may be another stop in the journey. As tipped to XDA by luca020400 (Director of the Lineage OS ROM), a new Android code change suggests that Tiramisu/Android 13 will be API level 33, which is two levels higher than the forthcoming Android 12, which will be API 31. 9to5Google has also discovered a newer code change that directly confirms that Android 13 will be API 33.
More than that, it’s directly stated that API level 32 will be “sc-v2.” In this instance, “sc” is shorthand for Android 12’s internal dessert name, “Snow Cone,” while “v2” implies that Snow Cone will get a “version 2.”
In almost every case over the last 13 years of Android’s history, a change to the API level has coincided with a change to Android’s version number. However, this would be the first time since 2017 that Google has felt the need to put out a second, mid-cycle upgrade for a particular Android version.
At that time, Android Oreo got a bump from 8.0 to 8.1 at the end of the year, with the update debuting on Pixel and Nexus phones. A similar mid-cycle “x.1” release schedule also occurred following Android Nougat and Lollipop. Following that pattern, it’s quite possible that this “sc-v2” update might be called “Android 12.1” when it launches.
So what can we expect from such an Android 12.1 upgrade? Whatever is changing must be both important enough to justify a mid-cycle release, and also drastic enough that Google couldn’t add it all to Android 12 while keeping the API stable for developers.
For now, there aren’t many clues to go on, especially as more parts of Android have become updatable without needing a major upgrade, thanks to Mainline modules. In a comment on another code change, we see that “sc-v2” will introduce some tweaks to the WindowManager APIs, which would definitely affect app developers.
It’s too early to say when this supposed Android 12.1 would release, but the earliest available evidence suggests Google has been preparing it since at least May. In past examples of a mid-cycle release, the new Android version bump would see release within a few months of the major version’s launch.
Another tidbit you’ll probably have noticed in the quote above is that a Googler mentions that “some of our Nest devices might not be migrated to T.” For now, we’re not too sure what to make of this, as no known Nest devices run on Android — let alone have potential to upgrade to Android 13 (T) — with the Nest Hub series using either Cast OS or Fuchsia. It’s possible this may simply be referring to the Chromecast with Google TV, which could be seen as falling under the Nest umbrella.
Android 11 brings much-needed privacy and security features alongside exciting UI changes.
Android 11 continues to push Google’s vision of Android forward. With Android 11, Google is making a few tweaks to refine the platform instead of making wholesale changes. Privacy is a big focus with Android 11, with Google introducing one-time permissions and granular control over what sort of data you share.
There are new features to get excited about as well — the power button menu picked up a massive overhaul, the Conversations view does a great job highlighting your messages, and there are little tweaks throughout the interface that give it an added polish.
Android 11 is powering the best Android phones of 2021, and manufacturers are doing a better job rolling out the update to their 2020 phones. So here’s everything you need to know about all the new features in Android 11, and when your phone will receive the update. We also highlight what’s on the horizon with Android 12; Google just rolled out the first public beta, introducing a radical new UI and exciting new features.
Is Android 11 available for my phone?
Following months of Developer Previews and Betas, Google launched the final build of Android 11 on September 8, 2020. The update was available for Pixel phones on day one as per usual. This year, Android 11 was also available on the same day for select handsets from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme.
That’s a big step forward for Android updates as a whole, but there’s also still plenty of work that’s left to be done. Samsung is now rolling out One UI 3.0 based on Android 11 to its flagships and mid-range devices, but the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and others are yet to roll out the update.
While that’s certainly annoying, we’re making things as easy as possible for you by tracking any and all Android 11 updates as we learn more about them.
What’s going on with Android 11 on non-Pixel phones?
As noted above, this year’s Android update rollout was a bit different compared to past releases. Instead of Pixels being the only phones treated to the new software, handsets from other select manufacturers were also treated to Android 11 in some form.
Let’s first look at Samsung, which is marketing its Android 11 update as One UI 3.0/3.1. Most of the core design principles remain in place, but there is a lot that’s new to check out. Samsung’s touting things like an improved lock screen, a more customizable always-on display, new accessibility tools, and more.
Samsung has already delivered the Android 11 update to most of its 2020 phones, and is now working its way down the list to its 2019 phones. It shifted to the One UI 3.1 build in recent months that debuted on the Galaxy S21 series.
We should also mention OxygenOS 11, which is the Android 11 update for OnePlus phones. OxygenOS 11 introduced a major design shift for OnePlus, with the company moving away from its stock Android aesthetic and embracing design elements found in Samsung’s One UI interface. OnePlus rolled out the OxygenOS 11 stable build with the 8T, and the Android 11 update is now available for the OnePlus 8 series, 7 series, and set to make its way to the 6/6T. The stable build is also making its way to the Nord shortly.
Nokia has also kicked off its Android 11 update rollout, with the Nokia 8.3 5G picking up the stable update starting February 8. HMD has lagged behind in this area over previous years, but with the Nokia 8.3 now on Android 11, we should see the update rolling out to other Nokia devices in the coming months.
Then there’s Xiaomi. The stable MIUI 12 update based on Android 11 is now rolling out to the Mi 10 series and Redmi Note 9 devices and should make its way to other Xiaomi phones very soon. We’ve rounded up Xiaomi’s Android 11 rollout timeline to make it easier for you to learn when your phone will get the update.
Motorola has kicked off the Android 11 update to the foldable Razr 5G starting April 15. LG has also started to roll out the Android 11 update, with the V60 and the Velvet receiving the stable build. Although LG will no longer make phones, it has stated that it will deliver the Android 12 and Android 13 updates to its current portfolio.
Lastly, we have ColorOS — the custom Android interface used on OPPO smartphones. ColorOS 11 is rolling out now to OPPO devices, and it offers a lot of exciting improvements. In addition to the usual Android 11 goodies, some other highlights include a customizable dark mode, a power-saver mode to extend battery life, and a new feature called OPPO Relax 2.0 that aims to help you unwind and fall asleep at night.
Where can I learn more about Android 11?
We’ll dive into some of Android 11’s biggest features below, but before we do any of that, we should address the elephant in the room — is Android 11 any good? The short answer, yes — it is very, very good, as per our Android 11 review.
Understandably, some people may find Android 11 boring or not very different from Android 10, but the fact of the matter is that Android no longer needs massive overhauls every year the way it used to. The core Android experience is darn good, and Android 11 elevates it even more. All of the conversation improvements are great for streamlining notifications, more powerful permissions are always something we’re happy to see, and the new power button menu adds a ton of extra functionality.
There are a couple of changes we aren’t completely in love with (namely the new multitasking window and Suggested Apps feature for the home screen), but those things are easy to overlook. The vast majority of what Google did with Android 11 was for the better, and the result is software that’s more functional and enjoyable to use.
How do Android 11 chat bubbles work?
As mentioned above, there isn’t one single overhaul or massive change found with Android 11. Instead, it’s a mix of many small tweaks here and there. A few of them focus on improving your messaging experience, with Google offering a lot in this department.
First on the list, we have chat bubbles. Similar to what Facebook’s offered for years with its Messenger app on Android, chat bubbles in Android 11 hide your ongoing conversations in little bubbles on the side of your screen. You can move the bubbles around, and tapping on them reveals that specific conversation. The Bubbles API is available for all messaging apps, with Google encouraging developers to adopt it.
In another effort to make sure you can get to your messages as quickly as possible, Android 11 introduces a dedicated conversation section in your notification shade that offers instant access to any ongoing conversations you have. It also makes it easier for your messaging notifications to stand out from others, ensuring you never miss an important text ever again.
Speaking of messages and notifications, Android 11 makes it possible to send images directly from the notification shade when replying to a message.
What’s new with permissions in Android 11?
Looking back on Android 10, one of its highlights was its improved handling of app permissions. Android 10 gave users more control over applications and what they could access, and Android 11 keeps this train rolling with a wonderful new addition.
Now, when an app asks for permission to use sensitive features like your location, microphone, or camera, you can choose to only grant it access on a one-time basis. The app will be able to use that permission during that instance of you using the app, but the permission is revoked as soon as you leave it. The next time you use the app, and it wants to use that permission, it needs to be granted access again.
Giving apps permission to these aspects of your phone should not be taken lightly, so we’re thrilled to see Google giving users more control over their data like this.
Does Android 11 have a built-in screen recorder?
For the past few Android releases, we’ve been patiently waiting for Google to add a built-in screen recorder. It’s not something you’ll use every day (if ever for some people), but the fact that such a basic function isn’t baked into Android at its core is getting annoying.
Thankfully, Android 11 finally changes that. This Android version does include the feature, accompanied by a clean UI and toggles for recording audio and showing touches with your recording.
There’s not much else to say about this, other than the fact that we’re glad we can finally put this feature request to bed.
Is Android 11 compatible with folding phones?
If there’s been a place of notable advancement in the Android space, it’s been with displays. Companies are doing what they can to offer the best and most exciting smartphone screen possible, and as great as this is, Android needs to catch up with better support for all of these advancements.
Folding phones are proving to be quite popular so far, and especially with devices like the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola RAZR that have the “flip phone” folding design, Android 11 adds the “hinge angle sensor API” so apps can easily detect the hinge of these folding phones. With this information, developers can adapt their apps to work around the hinge and create unique experiences because of that (like how Google Duo changes its UI when you do a half-fold on the Z Flip).
The other big upgrade displays have seen has to do with faster refresh rates. It’s no longer uncommon for phones to ship with screens that refresh at 90Hz or 120Hz, and Android 11 allows developers to take better advantage of these powerful displays. Developers can select which refresh rate their services should run at, and if the developer determines their app looks best at 90Hz or 60Hz, they can make that decision and have the phone’s display change its refresh rate accordingly when using that app.
How does Android 11 work with 5G?
5G is finally starting to make its way to people, and more and more folks have started connecting to the next generation of wireless data. To ease the transition, Android 11 adds a very important “Dynamic Meterdness API.”
That may not sound very exciting on paper, but it essentially allows phones to take full advantage of all the power 5G brings.
If the API detects that you’re connected to an unlimited 5G signal, you’ll access the highest possible quality for videos and graphics. The potential for 5G is pretty darn cool, and this API ensures you take full advantage of the speeds available to you.
What phone should I get for the best Android 11 experience?
Whether you want to be among the first to get Android 11 or experience it the way Google intended, the Pixel 5 is the phone for you. It’s the newest flagship Pixel currently available, and if you prefer metal over plastic or glass, it’s a hard phone to ignore.
The Pixel 5 is all about delivering a flagship-quality Android experience for a relatively low price, and in these regards, it succeeds tremendously. Google crammed a lot into the Pixel 5, including phenomenal cameras, an OLED display, good performance, long battery life, and more. The design is a little plain, but the phone’s also a great size for one-handed use.
Best of all, the Pixel 5 and other Pixel devices get quarterly Feature Drops from Google, bringing new features to the Android 11 experience without requiring a full-scale platform update.
When is Android 12 coming?
The Android 12 public beta is now live, and the OS is the biggest visual change in Android’s history. Google is rolling out the new Material You design aesthetic, giving you much better customizability and new privacy features.
The key highlight is that you now have a color palette that lets you change system-wide colors to your liking, including the notification shade, volume controls, lock screen, and more. The notification shade has a cleaner design, and there’s a dedicated snooze button that lets you mute notifications with ease.
Android 12 is also set to add scrolling screenshots, but the feature isn’t quite live at this moment. And while the home screen UI itself is unchanged from Android 11, there’s now an option to set a 4×5 grid. You can also easily share Wi-Fi with Nearby Share, making it easier for others to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
This year’s Android 12 update is shaping up to be Google’s biggest release in years, judging by all the cool new features we’re finding. Earlier today, XDA Recognized Developer and friend of the site Quinny899 gave us our first look at Android 12’s hidden Conversation widget, but that’s not the only feature he enabled. Thanks to some reverse engineering, he managed to get Google’s hidden Gaming Dashboard feature working. It’s currently extremely barebones and only has a floating toolbar with two non-functional buttons, but it’s our first look at yet another unreleased Android 12 feature.
As you can see in the screenshot below, two icons are overlaid on top of the screen: A record icon and a controller icon.
According to the code for Gaming Dashboard contained within Android 12’s SystemUI, the record button simply starts a screen recording session. That’ll be useful when you want to record your screen without interrupting gameplay by pulling down the Quick Settings panel. As for the button with the controller icon, we don’t know what it’ll do because it doesn’t work and there’s no obvious functionality tied to it in the code.
The Gaming Dashboard classes are part of the com.google.android.systemui namespace rather than com.android.systemui, which suggests this feature may be Pixel-exclusive. However, many OEMs already have their own Gaming Mode features, and there’s nothing about this version that stands out right now. Before the first Developer Preview dropped, we learned that Google is working on a game mode for Android 12. We don’t know if this new Gaming Dashboard and the Game Mode we heard of are one and the same, or if the former is simply a feature built on top of the new GameManager service. We’ll probably learn more information from subsequent Android 12 Developer Previews, though.
The Android 12 beta contains a hidden game mode within Digital Wellbeing.
This feature will allow mobile gamers to take screenshots, record gameplay, live-stream, and more.
We first heard murmurings in February that Android 12 could support a game mode, following in the footsteps of a ton of OEMs that already offer this feature. Now, it looks like the Android 12 beta does indeed have a game mode hidden away.
Redditor Kilarasx discovered the game mode by tapping Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. Alongside the expected “sleep” and “event” schedules for Do Not Disturb functionality, there’s a “Game Mode” schedule. We were able to find this on our Pixel 4 running the Android 12 beta — check out the screenshots below and the featured image above.
It looks like this is near-identical to the menu found by XDA with the third Android developer preview. Tapping the gear icon takes you to the game mode menu (image on the right), showing six options in total. The four options at the top are taking a screenshot, recording the screen, presumably viewing the frames per second, and activating/deactivating Do Not Disturb.
All these options bar the FPS toggle seem to work right now, with the screen recorder tool also letting you choose the audio you’d like to record (microphone, device audio, or both) and whether you want touches to be displayed.
Meanwhile, the bottom two options allow you to optimize the game you’re currently playing or stream your session via YouTube Live. The former doesn’t appear to work right now, and I didn’t meet YouTube’s requirements for mobile live streaming.
Presumably you won’t have to dig to find the game mode in the final version of Android 12, as this would be a very inconvenient departure from manufacturer implementations. Many manufacturers automatically display a game mode/tools via a small screen overlay, floating toolbar, or in the notification shade when you’re playing a game.
XDA-Developers previously posted an early Android 12 screenshot showing a floating toolbar for games, so it seems like Google is/was thinking about a similar approach as OEMs.
The stable version of Android 11 was released a few months ago, and while it isn’t the most revolutionary update we’ve ever seen, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about it. Whether you’re looking forward to the new conversation notifications, chat bubbles for messaging apps, or the upgraded permission handling, it may be a while before you can actually start messing around with all of these software goodies.
The update is available for the Pixels and selects OnePlus phones, while the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 lineups have also received their One UI 3.0 update which is based on Android 11. We’ve rounded up all of the current info to help give you a better idea of when Android 11 will arrive on your device.
The timelines change based on manufacturer and region, but the list below should give you a broad overview of if and when you will get the Android 11 update on your phone.
The phrase “fast Android updates” is usually an oxymoron, but Google‘s lineup of Pixel phones is the exception to that rule. Whenever a new update or security patch is released, Pixels are the first-in-line for that software — making this one of the biggest benefits of owning a Pixel in the first place.
The Android 11 stable update is now available to download on all Pixels starting with the Pixel 2 series. Here’s the full list:
Samsung used to be one of those manufacturers that you couldn’t rely on for good software support, but within the last year, it’s improved significantly. Samsung announced that it’s now committed to three years of major OS updates for all of its flagship phones, starting with the Galaxy S10 series.
The company has been on a tear as of late, releasing the final version of One UI 3.0 (based on Android 11) to the likes of the Galaxy S20, Note 20, and even the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. A few other devices are seeing the update as well that weren’t exactly expected as soon as they have arrived.
We can look forward to all of the following phones to get an Android 11 update:
Galaxy S10 Lite
Galaxy S20 Ultra
Galaxy S20 FE
Galaxy S21 Ultra
Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Galaxy Note 10
Galaxy Note 10+
Galaxy Note 20
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Galaxy Z Fold 2
Galaxy Z Flip 5G
Galaxy A52 / A52 5G
Galaxy A72 / A72 5G
Galaxy A32 5G
Galaxy M31 / M31s
The Galaxy S9 series should be able to run Android 11, but Samsung revealed its roadmap for which devices would see the update. Sadly, the S9 was not on the list. However, the company did commit to bringing security updates to these devices for at least the next year.
As for the speed at which Samsung will roll out Android 11 to its phones, we’re anticipating the update to drop within a few months of the initial launch. Google introduced Android 10 on September 3, 2019. The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S9 got the update in December and January, and Samsung has been following the same trajectory with Android 11 for its enormous lineup of smartphones, with many devices being updated in late December 2020 or throughout January and into February 2021.
What started out as a small enthusiast brand has transformed itself into a mainstream player in the U.S. smartphone space. OnePlus kicks out some of the best Android phones, and thankfully, it’s quite good when it comes to updating them to new software builds.
OnePlus is rolling out the Android 11 stable update to the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. There’s a new visual layout in OxygenOS 11, along with a host of exciting features.
Despite seeing a few issues with the official OxygenOS 11 rollout for the OnePlus Nord, it seems that everything is back on track.
Here are the OnePlus devices that will make the switch to Android 11:
OnePlus 9 Pro
OnePlus 8 Pro
OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition
OnePlus 7T Pro
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
OnePlus 7 Pro
OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition
With the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro making their arrival, that adds a couple of more devices that are running Android 11. Plus, both of those devices will see the update to Android 12 and at least Android 13. Which is more than we can say about the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and Nord N100 which are slated for only one major Android release. Meanwhile, those are still running Android 10, and the company has not given any indication as to when Android 11 will come to the budget-friendly handsets.
OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T owners who have been waiting patiently for the arrival of Android 11 will have to keep waiting a little bit longer. The company has confirmed that the Android 11 update won’t be arriving until after the release of Android 12, which is currently slated to launch this fall.
Xiaomi is one of the world’s largest phone manufacturers, and the brand has turned its attention to Western markets in the last two years. Xiaomi sells phones from $100 all the way to $1,200, and it has made a name for itself as the go-to player for value.
The company has already pushed the Android 11 update live for owners of the Xiaomi Mi 10 and has turned its focus onto the Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro. A new beta program has opened for these devices, as Xiaomi continues to bring the latest version of Android to its vast lineup of smartphones.
Based on a post that showed up on Xiaomi‘s MIUI community forums, the Android 11 update will be going out to 30 models across Xiaomi, POCO, and Redmi product lines. More phones will be added to the list, but for now, these are the Xiaomi phones that will be updated to Android 11:
OPPO is also turning its attention to Western markets. The Chinese manufacturer made a lot of changes to its ColorOS interface over the last 12 months, making it more palatable to a global audience.
OPPO has introduced ColorOS 11 based on Android 11 in closed beta for the Find X2 series and the Reno 3 Pro series, with a stable update slated to arrive before the end of the year.
We have a tentative timeline for when OPPO phones will get the ColorOS 11 beta based on Android 11. These are the OPPO devices that have already received the update to ColorOS 11:
A74 / A74 5G
Find X2 / X2 Pro
Find X3 Pro
Reno 2 F
Reno 4 5G
Reno 4 Pro 4G / Pro 5G
Reno 5 Lite
Reno 5 Pro+
Reno 5 Pro 5G
Reno 5 Z
Note that these are the expected timelines for the beta builds and not the stable update:
From October: Reno 4 Pro 5G
From November: Reno 4 5G, Reno 4 Pro 4G
From December: Reno 4 4G, F11, F11 Pro, F11 Pro Avengers Edition, A9, A92, A72, A52, Find X2 Pro Automobili Lamborghini Edition
From Q1 2021: Reno 10x Zoom, Reno 2, Reno 2F, Reno 2Z, Reno 3 Pro 5G, A91, F15
From Q2 2021: Reno, Reno Z, A5 2020, A9 2020
When will my Realme phone get Android 11?
Realme is also doing a closed Android 11 beta based on Realme UI 2.0 for the X50 Pro. Realme UI 2.0 comes with a host of new features, but at this moment, there’s no indication of when the stable build will be made available.
We don’t know how many Realme phones will be updated to Android 11, but most devices released in the last 18 months should qualify for the update. Here’s the list:
Although Huawei phones aren’t very common/popular in the United States, the manufacturer gets a lot of attention in other parts of the world.
Huawei‘s Android 11 update will take the form of EMUI 11, and the company has finally shared its roadmap for what devices will receive this update. The list is surprisingly long, with even some tablets getting in on the Android 11 action.
There are a lot of Huawei phones we expect to get Android 11/EMUI 11, including:
Huawei Mate 40 series
Huawei P40 series
Huawei P30 series
Huawei Mate 30 series
Huawei Mate 20 series
Huawei Mate X/Xs
Huawei Nova 5T
Regarding how fast those updates will be pushed out, you’ll likely have to wait a few months. The Huawei P30 and P30 Pro received Android 10 in mid-November, shortly followed by the Mate 20 series.
This past year has been an exciting one for Motorola. The company is still churning out high-quality budget devices, and alongside those, we’re seeing Moto‘s return to the flagship space. However, it’s still straggling behind in an area that’s been a pain point for years — software updates.
After staying mum for a little while, Motorola finally revealed which of its latest devices will be receiving an update to Android 11, and the list is as follows:
Motorola RAZR / RAZR 5G
Moto G Stylus
Moto G Power
Moto G Fast
Moto G 5G / 5G Plus
Moto G Pro
Motorola One Fusion / Fusion+
Motorola One Hyper
Motorola One Zoom
Motorola One Action
Motorola One Macro
Motorola One 5G
Moto G8 Plus
Moto G8 Power
Moto G40 Fusion
Moto G9 Play
Moto G9 Plus
Moto G9 Power
Lenovo K12 Note
That’s a solid list at first glance, but it comes with a big caveat. For every phone but the Edge+ and RAZR, Android 11 is the one and only software update they’ll receive. There’s also the fact that Motorola took its time with the Android 10 update, with the platform version not coming to the Moto G7 until May 11, 2020.
Keeping with the theme of manufacturers that often drop the ball for software updates, we have LG. With no update roadmap in place, here are the devices we think will get Android 11:
Android 10 was made available for the LG G8 in December 2019, with the LG V50 starting its Android 10 update in February 2020. We don’t consider that to be a fast turnaround time, but it is better than what we usually see from LG.
Our fingers are crossed that LG gets even faster with rolling out Android 11, but we’ll have to wait and see if that pans out.
Nokia has announced its Android 11 update schedule, with the first slate of devices set to receive the update by the end of 2020. While Nokia’s devices fall under the Android One initiative, phones like the Nokia 7.2 and Nokia 9 PureView won’t get the Android 11 update until Q2 2021.
After officially rolling out Android 11 to the Nokia 8.3 5G, the company’s Chief Product Officer took to Twitter, suggesting that the rollout would be coming much quicker than expected for the rest of Nokia’s devices. Only time will tell if that’s to be believed, but Nokia seems to be sticking to its timeline that was laid out late in 2020.
Google is set to release its next major version of Android — Android 12 — later this year, following a series of Developer Previews and Betas that will likely start rolling out later this month. Ahead of the stable release, Google shares documentation and source code with its major partners in order to give them time to prepare for the release. Today, an alleged early draft of a document that Google made to summarize changes in Android 12 leaked online, and screenshots showcasing the new UI and functional changes were extracted from the document. While we can’t fully confirm the authenticity of these screenshots, we have seen evidence that the document in question is, in fact, real, and furthermore that these screenshots indeed came from said document. With that in mind, here’s what we’re seeing right now.
One of the alleged Android 12 screenshots showcases a new notifications panel UI. The transparency is gone and replaced with an opaque light beige background, though the color likely depends on the current theme and/or whether or not Dark Mode is enabled. The separation between the “conversations” section with the rest of the notifications is still there, and the rounded corners of each notification are now more pronounced. The number of Quick Settings tiles that are shown when the notification panel is partially expanded has been reduced from 6 to 4, causing each icon to become larger. The positions of the date and clock have been swapped, while there are also new privacy indicators in the top right-hand corner.
Speaking of which, it seems that Google may add new privacy features in Android 12. In the new Android version, you may receive a warning in the form of status bar indicators whenever an app is using the camera or microphone. Tapping on these status bar icons may show a pop-up at the top of the screen that tells you exactly which app(s) are using the camera or microphone. Google has been testing these privacy chips for over 2 years now, so it would be nice to see them finally make an appearance in Android 12.
Related to this change is an alleged revamp to the “Privacy” settings in Android 12. The new Privacy settings may contain toggles to disable the camera and mute the microphone entirely, in addition to toggling location access. You can already disable all sensors on your device by using the “sensors off” Quick Setting tile, but this tile can only be shown once you enable Developer Options. Android 12 may make these sensor toggles more user-accessible by placing them in the Privacy settings.
Lastly, we have what appears to be a new addition to Android’s widget selection. When Apple recently added widgets to iOS, we argued that they’re better than Android’s implementation in some ways. While we don’t know if Google is planning a major overhaul of widgets, it does look like they at least plan to make a few changes. In a few screenshots, we can see an alleged new “Conversations” widget in Android 12 that may highlight recent messages, missed calls, or activity statuses. The widget that’s shown is small and only seems to be big enough to accommodate showing one message/call/status at a time in its smallest size.
One of the documents we viewed shortly after the publication of this article reveals that Google plans to make “conversation widgets” a mandatory feature for all Android 12 devices. These widgets provide access to “People Shortcuts” which contain an avatar, name, notification content, and status information, all set in the PeopleManager class.
According to a screenshot of the document we viewed, Google is also planning to mandate the inclusion of camera and microphone indicators in Android 12. These indicators must be shown prominently at the top of the screen, always be visible whenever the camera or microphone is being accessed, and must have the same color across the ecosystem. We don’t know what other changes will be mandated until we get our hands on the full Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) for Android 12.
Again, since we haven’t received the full document in question, we can’t 100% verify the authenticity of these images. However, the screenshot we received of the document comes from a trusted source who has, in recent times, shared other confidential documents with us. If we receive more evidence corroborating these alleged screenshots of Android 12, we’ll follow-up in a separate post. We also asked Google to comment on this leak and will update this article if we hear back.
If you’re interested in learning more about what’s in store in the next major Android release, check out XDA Android 12 tag. We expect there’ll be a better theming system, decoupled emojis, an app hibernation feature, and many more features that have yet to be uncovered. When Google unveils its first Developer Preview in the next few weeks, don’t expect to see all of these changes show up. That’s because the builds that Google releases prior to its I/O developer conference tend to miss out on a lot of the more interesting user-facing features.
Thanks to XDA Senior Member RKBD for bringing these images to our attention, and thanks to their tipster (who wishes to remain anonymous) for their help in corroborating these images!