Android 11 has finally arrived after a lengthy beta alter that started approximately three years ago in February 2020. This is the 30th rescuing of Android, if we’re counting by API levels, and in a year when it seems nearly the whole shooting match has been delayed or canceled, Google has managed to turn in one of the smaller Android put outs.
Last year, Android 10 was a massive release, adding gesture steering, a dark mode, Project Mainline, a dual-boot system, scoped storage, foldable smartphone brace, and a million other things. In comparison, Android 11 is more meagre. This being the annual Ars Technica review, however, there are of way still plenty of things to talk about—like yet another notification panel fix, a new media player, chat bubbles, smart home controls, and diverse.
Table of Contents
- The notification panel
- The persistent media carousel
- Chats and bubbles
- Notification history
- One-time and auto-revoking permissions
- The new power menu and tuned in home controls
- Get better smart home support, Google
- Emoji 13.0
- Out Mainline, Part 2—Even more modularity
- Google’s Scoped Storage brinkmanship
- Keyboard autofill induces a big upgrade
- Grab bag
- Building on Android 10, with a few upgrades of its own
- The competent
- The bad
- The ugly
The notification panel
The notification panel is one of the biggest strengths of Android, and Google can’t earmarks of to let a major release go by without iterating on it. This year, the theme seems to be all over organization and creating what Google calls a “dedicated persistent wait” for certain types of notifications.
Notifications are now broken up into five listings, some with big headers on top of each section. “Conversations,” “Notifications,” and “Uncommunicative” notifications get the big header labels in the notification panel, while ongoing notifications from stuffs like Google Maps navigation don’t get a label but are pinned to the top of the panel. The fifth quintessence is for media notifications, which now live inside the Quick Settings panel. This is a avid change.
The persistent media carousel
The media sportsman can actually end up in two spots, depending on when you last played a piece of approach. If you have a currently playing or recently paused media session, the technique player will show up above the notification panel. If you swipe away the mode player or haven’t played anything in a while, it will show up at the rear of the expanded Quick Settings. Since you access the expanded Quick Mountings from the notification panel, it’s sort of like the media player can end up on “Chapter 1” or “Page 2” depending on how recently it was used.
To make cell for the media player, the Quick Settings icons are now down to six icons per used of an adult bellboy, where previously there were nine icons per page. So you swipe down the notification panel and see six pieces at the top, and then when you expand the Quick Settings panel you see… the despite the fact six icons. It doesn’t make a ton of sense.
The media notification space helps multiple players. If you’ve started up more than one media app recently, you’ll be talented to horizontally swipe through multiple media players, which is illustrious for switching between a music player and podcast app. It’s up to each app to hold a make out for itself in the media player carousel, which can hold up to five apps.
Apps can presumably secure a persistent spot in the media player by calling the new “MediaBrowserService” API. I don’t judge any apps, however, actually do this right now, so it’s hard to know how it enlarge on a excites. Google claims that apps pinging the new API will stick in the media gamester carousel around forever (sorted by when you last used them), quits after a reboot. If any app actually implemented the persistent behavior, you would be gifted to turn it off by swiping over the media player, pressing the little panoply that appears under it, and turning on the option to “hide player when the normal session has ended.”
The expedient player has a new output-picker button in the top left, and when you tap on it, you get a pop-up card slate audio devices. Right now, this tends to list things take to “Phone Speaker,” “Wired headphones,” and the names of any connected Bluetooth machineries. Since this is all the button ever lists at the moment, it’s not particularly helpful.
Google’s developer documents show Google Cast devices, take pleasure in Google Home speakers and Chromecasts, popping up in this list, which would be humongous. The docs say, “By default, only local media routes are shown. If your app mainstays other media routes, such as remote playback you’ll need to let the set know.” “Remote Playback” here means Google Formulation devices, with a “Google Home” and several other speakers popping up in the accompanying show. So whether or not Google Home speakers appear in this list intent be up to each individual app. So that will need to be updated.
For developers, the advised way to get Google Cast speakers in the audio picker for your app is to include construction 1.2.0 of the MediaRouter jetpack library and enable a few remote-playback flags. The unruly is this version of the library is still in beta. That means—and this is as likely as not going to be a running theme in this article—that from what I can herald, no apps support this Android 11 feature yet.
I think the particulars of how the new audio picker desire work with Google Cast devices is a big deal, because the in touch Google Cast interface (accessible via the “cast” button inside an app) is presumably the single worst interface shipping on a modern Android phone. It prompts me of the share-sheet problems that used to exist before Android 10. The Google Look for list in an app is built at runtime, so when you press the cast button, you anything else get a blank sheet, and then it slowly fills up as the app pings speakers on your network same it’s taking attendance for a classroom. Not all the speakers show up at once, so the list advances and shifts around as attendance is taken. It’s common to see the speaker you want, go to tap on it, and explicitly 1 millisecond before you touch the screen, the list updates and the wrong jotting shifts to the spot beneath your finger.
The list is also sorted alphabetically, not by something uncountable useful like “last-used” or “most-commonly-used.” It’s also a mishmash of speakers and demagogue groups, and there is no way to hide speakers you never start individually or inform certain list items as important. This is crazy, since when you intimate a speaker group, you’ll most likely want to start the speaker troop and never an individual speaker. For now, the list isn’t even smart enough to put demagogue groups at the top.
I really like the idea of the new media controls. Switching between apps with a hasty horizontal swipe is handy. Most of the time, all I want to do is resume the ultimate media I was playing, and having a list of my last few media sessions desire be a super-easy way to do it. As someone who normally has a few media-player widgets on my home screen for friendly startup, a persistent media player seems like an ideal countenance. The problem right now is that nothing is actually persistent. No apps meet on persistent mode, so a lot of times you go looking for the media player and it’s just… not there. It’s graceful disappointing opening the Quick Settings expecting to use your favorite method app and for it to be missing. After a few missed connections, I just gave up trying to use the Keen Settings player. Without persistent mode, it’s more-or-less identical to the old device notification, just with the cool multiplayer support.