Google usually releases a preview of its next version of Android in March. But, this year, it's kicking things off a month early.
It's released the first developer preview of Android 11 for Pixel phones. To be clear, this is a developer-focused version of the software. To test it, you’ll need to manually flash a full system image onto your Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, or Pixel 4 XL. Here's our guide on how that process works; it's actually fairly simple to do.
Don't expect major forward-facing features in this version of Android 11. Those likely won't be ready to see until Google I/O 2020. For now, this release brings a handful of system-level changes, including improvements for 5G connectivity, foldable screens, and low-latency video decoding, support for SHAKEN/STIR call screen authentication, and a new Google’s neural networks API.
Perhaps the most interesting Android 11 change for everyday users is a dedicated conversation section in the notification shade, which we assume means you'll be able to see more messages and even images in a chat thread when replying directly from a notification. There's also a new location permission option in Android 11, which will let you grant one-time location access to an app.
There are other security improvements to Android 11, such as the ability to securely store personal IDs like drivers licenses. Google’s blog post for developers has more information about what's new in the software.
We hope to test Android 11 soon and will let you know what we find. If you're not a developer, we recommend waiting to flash this OS on your Pixel phone. There will likely be tonnes of bugs, and the most exciting stuff is yet to come.
Google said a public beta will arrive in May, or around Google I/O 2020, so everyday users will get a chance to test Android 11, too.