Google, as expected, released the Android 11 Developer Preview earlier than usual, so that developers could test the new version of the mobile OS before launching the final build this year. It brings new features that help users control access to sensitive data, files, and more.
Google, for example, claims to have improved all critical areas of the platform to provide increased stability and security. Android 11 offers a number of important features for developers, including improvements for flexible devices and 5G, APIs for working with calls, new multimedia and camera features, improvements in machine learning, and much more.
5G provides higher speeds and less latency. Thanks to 5G, developers can count on their demanding traffic applications (for example, 4K video or high-quality game resources) not only with an eye on Wi-Fi but also on mobile communications. There is an opportunity to create software of a completely new type. Google in Android 11 has updated its existing connectivity APIs so developers can take advantage of the innovations.
- The dynamic meteredness API allows you to check whether the volume of consumed traffic is taken into account on the connection, and if not, offer a higher resolution and quality, implying a more active use of data. Cellular networks are now supported – some operators already offer unlimited traffic in 5G networks.
- At the same time, the Bandwidth estimator API simplifies the estimation of 5G bandwidth for downloading and downloading without the need to poll the network or calculate its own rating. If the modem does not support the API, it makes a default estimate based on the current connection.
Support for new screen types
Device manufacturers continue to innovate with new screen formats on their mobile devices. Google has expanded its support in Android 11 using APIs that will make it easier for developers to optimize applications. In particular, support for screens with perforations and teardrop-shaped cutouts has been improved if it is necessary to use to control the area near the edges and insets. In addition, the platform received support for flexible devices like the Galaxy Z Flip, Huawei Mate X or Motorola razr.
New communication opportunities
Android 11 has been updated to help developers create deeper conversational applications, for example:
- a special section of conversations in the notification curtain – users can instantly find current conversations with people in their favourite applications;
- Bubbles (pop-up bubbles) – a way to keep conversations in sight while working in other applications on smartphones (software must support the Bubbles API);
- inserting images into answers through the notification curtain – now in compatible applications, users can insert multimedia files into the answers directly from the notification section, and not only in the application itself.
Improved neural network support
Google in Android 11 has expanded support for machine learning in Neural Networks API 1.3. Quality of Service APIs support priority and latency for model execution. Memory Domain APIs reduce memory copying and conversion when running a sequential model. Finally, extended quantization support for simpler models and faster output.
Privacy and security
Google is constantly expanding its privacy and security capabilities. Android 11 is no exception. Already now, developers can take advantage of, for example, such an innovation as a one-time resolution: for the most sensitive data types (location, microphone and camera), users will now be able to provide temporary access through a one-time resolution, that is, until they exit the application.
Among other things, several improvements have been added to Scoped storage related to the drive: for example, a ban on access to RAW files for multimedia; Updated DocumentUI and batch editing operations in MediaStore. The BiometricPrompt API has received a number of improvements and now, in particular, it supports three types of authenticators of different levels: strong, weak and device credentials. Applications can now share blocks of data easier and more securely with other software through BlobstoreManager. Android 11 also added platform support for the secure storage and retrieval of verified identity documents: for example, rights that comply with the ISO 18013-5 standard.
System component updates via Google Play
Starting with Android 10, within the framework of Project Mainline, the search giant began to actively promote system component updates directly with hardware partners to increase the security of end devices without waiting for the corresponding patches from manufacturers to be launched.
Android 11 has added 12 new updatable modules, so now their number reaches 22. Among other things, we are talking about a permission module that standardizes user and developers access to critical privacy controls on Android devices; The media provider module, which is an integral part of Google’s efforts to ensure privacy within Scoped Storage; NNAPI (Neural Networks API) module, which optimizes performance and guarantees consistent APIs for all devices.
Enhanced Application Compatibility
Google is actively working to make updates faster and easier while giving priority to application compatibility as new versions of the platform are released. Android 11 adds a number of processes and tools for developers to minimize the impact of platform updates, which simplify testing and debugging software and the like.
Some other changes in communication, camera, and performance:
- Improvements in the field of call filtering – call verification applications will now become more useful: they can receive the STIR / SHAKEN confirmation status for an incoming call as part of the call information, and they can also configure the system’s screen after the call so that users can mark the call as spam or add him in contact.
- An improved API for choosing the best Wi-Fi connection allows connection management applications to better manage their networks. For example, they can force disconnections from the network, manage Passpoint networks, get more information about the quality of the connection, and so on. In addition, extended support for Passpoint.
- Animated HEIF files at the system level – now the ImageDecoder API allows you to decode and display animated sequences of images stored in HEIF files, so developers can use this efficient format in their software to save data and reduce apk size.
- Built-in image decoder. New NDK APIs allow applications to decode and encode images (for example, JPEG, PNG, WebP) while maintaining the smaller size of the APK since you do not have to connect an external library.
- Mute while capturing the camera – applications can use the new API to mute the vibration of calls, alarms or notifications during recording.
- Applications can use metadata tags to enable bokeh modes when capturing from the camera on devices that support them (for both photos and videos).
- Low-latency video decoding in MediaCodec: Minimum delays in video decoding are critical for services such as Google Stadia, where the response speed of a stream to user actions is crucial. Video codecs that support low-latency playback transmit the first frame of the stream as quickly as possible after decoding begins. Now thanks to the new API, applications can check the corresponding settings in various codecs.
- HDMI low latency mode – Applications can also use the new APIs to request low latency automatic mode (also known as a game mode) on external displays and televisions.
Android 11 Developer Preview is now available for the Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, or Pixel 4/4 XL smartphones on the Android Developers website. The company promises to release the next build of Developer Preview 2 in March, Developer Preview 3 in April, Beta 1 in May during Google I / O, Beta 2 in June (with final APIs and the official SDK), Beta 3 and the final stable version – at the end of the third quarter of 2020. That is, the launch time will not change, just the new OS will undergo a more thorough run-in.