Here's why your phone might not get all the best Android 11 features

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
(Image credit: Future)

With Android 11 rolling slowly into view, it's worth remembering that not all of the features that Google adds to its mobile operating system make it into every phone, with each manufacturer taking a slightly different approach.

As XDA Developers reports, Google makes recommendations about which Android features are must-haves for third-party phone makers, and which are only optional – and an early version of those recommendations for Android 11 has just leaked out.

There are three key features that manufacturers don't absolutely have to include in their own version of Android 11. The first is the selection of smart home controls that pop up with a long press on the power button, letting you quickly turn off your smart lights or whatever else.

Handset makers besides Google won't have to include this – though they may well choose to do so. Alternatively, they might decide to implement their own take on the feature, with a few extra bells and whistles or a different interface.

Play by the rules

The second optional feature is the grouping of conversations in the notifications pull-down panel – by default, Android 11 will keep alerts from messaging apps separate from other notifications, but this approach won't be compulsory for everyone.

The likes of Samsung, Sony, LG, Xiaomi and the rest often play around with how notifications work on their own versions of Android, so it's perhaps no surprise that this is one feature that's included in the optional category.

Finally, the last feature that won't be a must-have is the new facility for storing identity documents in a secure locker on your phone – Google wants to make it possible for you to store documents like your driver's license in a locked-away part of your phone, but other manufacturers won't have to follow suit.

These recommendations might change before Android 11 launches in full, but it's something to watch out for. If manufacturers want to keep Google apps and services on their phones, they have to abide by these rules – but it looks as though these three features are going to be optional.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.