Google has launched the very first developer preview version of its next mobile OS iteration, Android 11. The preview is available on Google’s Pixel phones including as old as Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and official Android emulator. Interested developers can download the system images from Google’s official dev website. It is worth noting that the preview needs to be installed manually (system flash) instead of downloading it over-the-air.
Google has included a variety of new features in the first iteration of Android 11 developer preview. There’s a special emphasis on improving the privacy and security of the software – a trend we’ve seen in the last three-four versions of the OS. Google is already readying Android 11 for the newer screen types, 5G connectivity, and on-device machine learning.
“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,” said Google in a blog post.
Elaborating the features of Android 11, Google said the new mobile OS will help apps get better compatibility with pinhole screens and waterfall screens. For 5G, Google has introduced a Dynamic meteredness API which allows developers to identify cellular networks for higher quality streaming. Another Bandwidth estimator API helps developers to easily check downstream and upstream bandwidth.
On the new Neural Networks API 1.3, Google explained: “Neural Networks API (NNAPI) is designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on Android devices. In Android 11, we’re expanding the operations and controls available to developers. In this release, we’ve added new operations and execution controls to help optimize common use cases.”
As said earlier, Android 11 doubles down the focus on privacy of users. For instance, Google will now give users the option to give one-time permission for functions beyond location. This essentially means you can allow an app access to microphone and camera only one-time. So far, such limit option is available for location only.
Android 11 also brings wider support biometric sensors on a variety of handsets in the market right now and the ones coming this year. “We’ve expanded use of compiler-based sanitizers in security-critical components, including BoundSan, IntSan, CFI, and Shadow-Call Stack… Android 11 adds platform support for secure storage and retrieval of verifiable identification documents, such as ISO 18013-5 compliant Mobile Driving Licenses,” said Google.
Google will officially unveil Android 11 at its I/O developer conference in May. The annual conference is scheduled to be held between May 12 and May 14. The company is likely to introduce the very first public beta of Android 11 at the conference.