The third developer preview for Android 11 was released yesterday. You can download Android 11 Developer Preview 3 right now on most Google Pixel smartphones, compatible Project Treble-supported devices, or in Android Studio. This release is intended for developers, so you shouldn’t install the release unless you plan on developing an Android app using the latest APIs. However, if you’re just curious about what’s new in the release, we’ve been digging through the latest developer preview and compiling all the new features and changes below.
New User-Facing Features
Recents app screen gets larger previews and shortcut buttons
The app previews in Recents apps are slightly bigger than before, and there are now shortcuts for “Screenshot” and “Share” at the bottom. The “Screenshot” button takes a screenshot of the app that’s you’re hovering over in the recent apps overview, while the “Share” button takes a Screenshot and then immediately opens up the share sheet. These buttons replace the row of app suggestions and search bar that normally appeared at the bottom of the recent apps overview.
App permissions can be automatically revoked if the app hasn’t been used for months
One of the most exciting new privacy features is a new toggle in app-specific permission pages called “Auto revoke permissions.” As the name implies, this feature is supposed to automatically revoke an app’s permissions if the app hasn’t been used for a “few months.” Very handy, but there’s no way for us to test it since Android 11 Developer Preview 3 was released just yesterday.
Notification shade has been redesigned slightly and hidden persistent notifications are now less intrusive
Google loves to tweak the notification shade as we’ve seen in earlier Android 11 Developer Previews, and in Developer Preview 3, we are seeing even more changes. The line that indicates you can expand the Quick Settings toggles is wider and there’s a gradient in the shade. In addition to the “Clear All” button, there’s a “History” button that takes you to the new Notification History page in Android 11. Furthermore, in Developer Preview 3, you can swipe away any notification, even persistent ones that must be shown for applications with a Foreground Service. When dismissed, the persistent notification is listed underneath the rest of the notifications in an “Apps active in background” section.
Undo gesture to bring back dismissed apps in Recents
A change that has been in testing since the early Android 10 (Q) betas is back: the timing to “undo” closing a recent apps page is much longer than before. pic.twitter.com/Ld5sXmaMWs
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 23, 2020
A feature that has been in testing since the early Android Q betas is finally here. There is a gesture for bringing back an application that you have just swiped away in the Recents app menu. After swiping the app away, you have a short period of time in which you can swipe down to bring it back to the list. You get about a second to do this, and you can swipe anywhere on the screen.
There’s a new, compact screenshot pop-up menu, but scrolling screenshots aren’t supported yet
After taking a screenshot in Android 10, the screenshot options are shown in the notifications panel. You can share, edit, or delete the screenshot. In Android 11 DP3, there’s a new compact pop-up menu that appears when taking a screenshot. You can dismiss the screenshot by tapping on the X button, share the screenshot, or tap the edit button to mark the screenshot in an image editor. A third option will let you take scrolling screenshots, but this is still not fully implemented.
Individual left/right gesture sensitivity
Android 10 introduced full-screen gesture navigation with the pill bar at the bottom. To replace the back button, Google added inward swipe gestures from both the left and right sides of the screen. In case you find it difficult or too easy to do the back gesture, you can increase or decrease the sensitivity, which simply shifts the starting point of the back gesture. However, these sensitivity options applied to both sides of the display.
In Android 11 DP3, you can independently adjust the sensitivity for both sides of the screen. This will let you, say, decrease the sensitivity of the back gesture from the left edge and increase the sensitivity of the back gesture from the right edge. This can be helpful if a lot of your apps still have sidebars that are swiped open from the left. Even better is that, with the addition of this independent gesture sensitivity feature, it’s possible to completely disable either the left or right back gesture. For example, if you want to disable only the left edge back gesture, then simply run the following ADB command:
adb shell settings put secure back_gesture_inset_scale_left 0
Support for Ethernet tethering
The Hotspot & tethering menu has a new option for Ethernet tethering. This allows you to share your phone’s Internet connection by connecting a USB-to-ethernet adapter and then connecting a device to the adapter. This is probably a niche feature but it may come in handy when you’re traveling and want to use a PC in a hotel on your own network.
New onboarding screen for Bubbles
When you start a Bubble for the first time in Android 11 DP3, there is a new dialog that appears with some extra information about how they work. This is a good step toward making Bubbles a consumer-facing feature.
Caption preferences have been redesigned
Google is reworking the standard closed caption options. What was once a single page in the settings has been branched out into multiple pages and given a facelift to be more in line with other parts of the UI.
Disable ADB authorization timeout toggle in Developer Options
A new toggle in Developer options has been added called “Disable adb authorization timeout.” When enabled, this will disable the “automatic revocation” of ADB authorizations on PCs that haven’t reconnected within 7 days.
Volume menu renamed to Sound
One of the smallest changes in Android 11 DP3 is the renaming of the Volume menu to “Sound.” That’s literally it. Cheers to AndroidPolice for pointing this out!
Still In-Development Features
In debug builds of the new Launcher3 APK, as found in the Android 11 DP3 system image in Android Studio’s emulator, you can enable a “select” button in the recent apps overview. Once this works, you will likely be able to select text in the recent apps overview. You can already do this by long-pressing text in app preview cards on Pixel phones, but many people might not know this is even possible. Adding a “select” button will make this more obvious to users. We’re hoping that Google may even enable this feature on non-Pixel devices.
In debug builds of Launcher3, like on the Android Studio’s image, you can also enable a “select” button in the recent apps overview. This will likely let you select text in the recent apps overview. pic.twitter.com/chsjdsRL9a
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 23, 2020
Resizing picture-in-picture windows
In the last developer preview, Google added code for resizing PiP windows. Now, in Android 11 DP3, the feature is working, but it isn’t live for users just yet. Once the feature goes live, all you have to do to resize PiP windows is tap right outside of the corners of the window and then drag inward or outward to resize. It can be a little tricky to grab the right spot, but it works, as you can see in the video embedded above.
New animation for upcoming “Battery Share” feature
The Battery Share menu, which we previously spotted in the first Android 11 Developer Preview, has a new animation and slider. The animation shows a phone wirelessly charging the case for a pair of wireless earphones and another phone. No Pixel phones currently support reverse wireless charging, so the inclusion of this setting seems like a nod to a future device. Even though the phone rendered in the animation looks like the upcoming Pixel 4a, we don’t think the Pixel 4a will actually support wireless charging, and by extension, reverse wireless charging.
Upcoming “Schedules” Settings Page
According to strings and code we discovered in the Settings app, it looks like Google will introduce a new “Schedules” settings page to consolidate all schedulable settings under one roof. There won’t be any new features in this page, but it’ll make it easier to control all the other settings that can be scheduled. This includes things like Bedtime Mode (formerly Wind Down in Digital Wellbeing), Focus Mode in Digital Wellbeing, Do Not Disturb mode, Battery Saver, Alarms, Rules, Dark Mode, and Night Light.
A hidden setting in Developer Options will enable window blurs at the compositor level. It’s unclear what devices this will be implemented on.
Further development on the “Quick Controls” feature
The last developer preview revealed Google’s work on “Quick Controls” for the Power Menu. This new menu seems to be a hub for smart home automation shortcuts. While not a lot has changed on the surface in Android 11 DP3, we have found evidence that there has been a lot of progress under-the-hood on the Controls API.
New “Contact discovery” feature
There is a new, hidden toggle in Settings called “Contact discovery.” The description for this feature states that it will periodically send all of the phone numbers in your contacts to your carrier in order to discover which calling features are supported. This likely refers to User Capability Exchange, or UCE, which is part of RCS.
New system permissions to bypass audio recording restrictions and monitor camera openings
Google has added two system-level permissions to the framework of Android 11 Developer Preview 3: EXEMPT_FROM_AUDIO_RECORD_RESTRICTIONS and CAMERA_OPEN_CLOSE_LISTENER. The former requires privileged or signature permission level while the latter is strictly signature only. The description for the former states that it’s intended for system apps to bypass limitations of existing audio recording APIs, which we think will be helpful in implementing Live Captions for phone calls. The latter will allow system apps to monitor when the camera session starts or ends, which may be used to implement new privacy features in future releases.
That’s all we thought was worth highlighting in this release. Follow our Android 11 news tag to stay up-to-date on everything we’ve covered so far on the next Android OS release.
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