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Android 11: what we want to see

Android 11
(Image credit: Shutterstock / TechRadar)

The 2020 Android update is set to be Android 11 – that’s not speculation, but fact, since Google has confirmed the name itself. This follows, because with Android 10 Google pledged to follow a numerical system of operating system organisation.

That means while Android 9 was Android Pie, Android 10 wasn’t Android Quiche, and Android 11 won’t be Android Rhubarb and Custard (sadly) - but it will be packed with updates and, likely, a few long-awaited features.

Android 11, Google’s next operating system, is set to be revealed in mid-2020, before being released for Pixel devices around September, and then rolled out for other Android devices from late 2020 through well into 2021.

Mid-2021 is a way off, but we’ve already started hearing rumors and news surrounding the upcoming Android operating system. Here we’ll collect everything we know about Android 11.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The newest Android operating system
  • When is it out? Likely September 2020, at least on Pixel phones
  • How much will it cost? Android 11 will be available for free

Android 11 release date

Google tends to unveil some of the features of its newest operating system at Google IO in May, before releasing the OS for Pixel phones in September – this year, for example, it debuted  on the Pixel 4

After that, different smartphone brands will have their devices eligible for the update slowly over time. The OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro were the first non-Google smartphones which came with Android 10 in the box, but it could be a different company for Android 11.

Not all smartphone manufacturers upgrade immediately, however, and it’ll likely be some time in 2021 that all smartphones that can upgrade, have had the upgrade made available.

Android 11 features

Android

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s only one Android 11 feature we know of so far – it’s confirmed for the operating system though, so it’s not just speculation.

This feature is ‘Scoped Storage’, which was initially meant to be available in Android 10, but Google pushed it back due to complaints from Android developers.

Scoped Storage is a new way of organizing what information and files your apps can read – in short, it makes memory read speeds much quicker, improves your security, and stops you needing to give every new app permissions.

That’s the only Android 11 feature we know of, but since Android 10 isn’t available on most devices yet, it’ll be a while before we get to hear about more.

What we want to see in Android 11

(Image credit: Google)

These are the improvements we'd like to see in Android 11, that we still don't have in the latest build of Google's operating system.

1. A new NFC file-sharing alternative

With Android 10 came the removal of Android Beam, which let phones share files over NFC. All you had to do was tap phones together to share files, but it's gone now.

It'd be useful to have some easy-to-use alternative that lets you share photos, videos, music, or other files just by pressing the phones against each other – at the moment it can be quite a hassle to use a specific app to do so, and Apple's Airdrop is a useful feature that has no equivalent in Android.

2. Improved dark mode

(Image credit: Google)

Dark mode isn't for everyone, but those who use it love it – or they want to, at least, but in Android 10 it has a lot of problems.

Firstly, not that many apps have their own dark modes, not even all Google apps, so using your smartphone with dark mode on can often see you jumping straight from dark apps to light ones, and back again.

Secondly, on apps that do have dark mode some text isn't color-swapped, and can remain invisible – this actually happens on Google search, so you can't see suggested results.

For dark mode to be useful on Android smartphones, it needs to actually be usable for most apps, instead of just an optional toggle here and there.

3.  Extended chat 'bubbles'

One of the new features of Android 10 was the introduction of chat 'bubbles', similar to Facebook Messenger, laid over the top of other apps, that let you see all your conversations over several apps all in one easy-to-access format.

Not all apps are compatible though, and while some of those that you use to message people, there are many that aren't, with only the main text app Messages, and Google Hangouts, compatible. That means if you want to have conversations over various apps, for the most part you're still going to be using those apps.

It'd be really useful if more apps became compatible – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, and perhaps even dating apps! Then, it'd be incredibly easy to keep on top of your various conversations across all the different apps that fill up your phone.