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Everything you need to know

Android logo 11 stock photos 4

It looks like it’s not been long since we got the final build of Android 10, but that hasn’t stopped Google from removing the new Android 11 developer preview out of nowhere! Make no mistake: this is a very early build and we will likely see many new features and UI changes before the final version, just as Android 10 has changed a lot between beta 1 and the final version. We can expect further announcements on Google I / O.

Also, we have no idea when Android 11 will come out of beta, although Google has given us a target for “platform stability” (more on that later). This is scheduled for next June and Google has also provided a development timeline this time! So this gives us some clues, at least.

This is a very early build and we will likely see many new features and UI changes before the final version.

Android 11 Developer Preview overview

Google points out that this beta is not aimed at consumers and even developers may find the changes here a little barebones. You will find a detailed breakdown of what you can find below, but much of this will only affect the selected developers (there are some features that will be useful for call screening applications, for example).

The key takeaways that should be on every developer’s radar are:

  • The bubbles are still coming
  • Section dedicated to conversations in the notification area
  • Copy and paste images between embedded responses
  • The dynamic measurement API and the bandwidth estimator API offer more information about 5G connections
  • Storage with mandatory scope for apps intended for Android 11
  • BiometricPrompt now supports authenticator types and granularity levels
  • The “Breaking” changes in Android 11 have been made available to facilitate testing and debugging
  • The ImageDecoder API now supports HEIF files
  • Apps can send camera capture requests by enabling bokeh mode
  • Low latency video decoding

These features are also rather niche and will likely only apply to a few selected developers, at least for now.

However, the sooner we can start playing with new APIs and prepare for new rules and restrictions, the less headaches we will have in the long run. So thank you Google!

With that in mind, you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of Android 11 beta for developers below.

Note: This post will be updated regularly as Google launches new beta.

Note: Check out the official Google post here. You can also check out our list of user features here.

Detailed changes

The attention of Android 11 (at the moment) seems to be preparing for the next infrastructures, software innovations and hardware trends. That means getting ready for 5G, folding devices and machine learning. And like Android 10, there will also be an increased focus on privacy and security.

Read also: Android 11 practical and first impressions

The latter point means there are more new features designed to help users control app behavior and limit access to sensitive data. That’s all good, but for developers it can mean reworking file systems and permissions.

5G

Android 11 brings updates to current connectivity APIs. The bandwidth estimator API, for example, can now control downstream / upstream bandwidth without polling the network, which could be useful for managing downloads and updating progress bars. The dynamic dynamic measurement API in the meantime will allow developers to check if a connection is limitless. This obviously means that we can offer higher resolution streaming where appropriate, also taking into account users’ bank accounts.

Stock image 1 of the Android 11 logo

Types of screen

One of the most useful UI updates is the inclusion of new APIs to be used in conjunction with the current display clipping APIs. This is designed to support the edges of the waterfall screen (therefore Samsung devices), to include inserts and thus manage interactions (and prevent accidental touches and touches). Given that the new S20 devices largely eliminate the cascading effect, this feature may be a case of too little too late, although it is worth noting that devices like Huawei Mate X include a curved edge out of necessity.

Read also: Android 11 will prevent your curved screens from breaking your apps

notifications

Bolle has never made the leap to Android 10. However, they are available in this developer preview and will allow users to interact with messaging apps via mobile chat (Facebook Messenger wing). Developers can play with this using the Bubbles API.

Android 11 chat bubbles Magnify 2

The shadow of notifications now has a dedicated “conversation section” and online responses now support copying and pasting from the clipboard. In this developer preview, support for copying images is only available in Chrome, while pasting images is only available on the Gboard clipboard.

Read also: Android Q browsing: adding bubble notifications to your apps

Neural Network API 1.3

The Neural Networks API allows you to perform computationally intensive ML operations directly on Android devices. The latest update will add several new operations and controls: extended quantization support, a memory domain API, and a quality of service API. For those who want to learn more, Google has provided some NDK sample codes easily.

private life

Privacy is the most important and Google is focusing once again on this area.

A great update for developers is the one-time authorization, which will allow users to accept an authorization only once. This will require some changes to the way you currently manage permissions and more information is available here.

Scope storage will be mandatory for apps targeting Android 11.

Scope Archiving has received some updates, including access to the media opt-in raw location, batch changes for MediaStore, and updates to DocumentsUI. A more complete list is available here. Scope storage will be mandatory for apps targeting Android 11. Remember: users will be able to control access to shared files in the Photos, Videos and Audio folders using the new runtime permissions and access to the Downloads folder will be available only through file selector systems.

Safety

The BiometricPrompt API will now support three types of authenticators with different ratings: strong, weak and device credential.

Google has increased the use of compiler-based disinfectants in safety-critical components. This should result in a more secure Android 11, but it could produce repeatable bugs and crashes in the apps that should be tested. Google now offers a system image with HWASan to help developers find and fix memory leaks. A BlobstoreManager will facilitate the secure sharing of data blobs by apps.

Permissions for Android 11

Android 11 will also offer support for secure storage and recovery of verifiable identity documents such as driving licenses. Google says it will soon provide more details on this feature, but it could mean that we are really able to leave our wallets at home soon!

Google has also added 12 other modules that can be updated for Android, in particular with regards to privacy controls. The hope is that more OEMs will push these important updates to users, resulting in greater security and consistency across the Android ecosystem. So don’t ignore the changes!

Testing, debugging and compatibility

The developers reportedly told Google last year that it was difficult to prepare for Android 10 without a concrete deadline for final changes. No duh! To minimize this frustration with Android 11, Google made a commitment to “platform stability” in early June. This update will include the final SDK and NDK APIs, along with any changes to the internal APIs and system behavior.

Google committed to “platform stability” early next June.

To make the transition from Android 10 to 11 easier, Google has ensured that the most potentially unbreakable updates for apps are enabled. Developers can then identify which new updates are causing compatibility issues, then disable those features while working on a fix. Hopefully, this will speed up the transfer of apps to new devices, as you won’t need to constantly play with targetSdkVersion or recompile.

Google has also updated the lists of limited non-SDK interfaces and has provided a public API for the dynamic loading of resources and resources at run time.

Connectivity in Android 11 Developer Preview

If you have a call screening app, you will now be able to retrieve the STIR / SHAKEN verification status of incoming calls and customize the post-call screens provided by the system which allow users to easily mark calls as spam and take other actions.

Android 11 Android R

The Wi-Fi Tips API has new features for WiFi management apps and other tools. For example, developers can now force logouts by removing network tips and get more detailed information about the quality of the connection.

Passpoint improvements will force and notify Passport profiles to expire. The Wi-Fi Tips API now includes the option to manage Passpoint networks.

camera

The ImageDecoder API now supports decoding and rendering of image sequence animations from HEIF files, thus enabling the use of high quality resources with minimal impact on network data / APK size. Using decodeDrawable on a HEIF source will allow developers to show highly efficient HEIF image sequences in apps, just like GIFs. Where the source contains a sequence of images, an AnimatedImageDrawable will be returned.

The Native Image Decoder API for NDK will support the encoding and decoding of image files from the native code for graphics and post-processing. This eliminates the need for external libraries, keeping the APK size low.

The ImageDecoder API now supports decoding and rendering of image sequence animations from HEIF files.

The new APIs also allow developers to disable vibrations and notifications during active recording sessions. Metadata tags will now allow bokeh modes for camera capture requests on compatible devices.

Multimedia streaming

The low latency video decoding in MediaCodec returns the first frame of a stream as soon as it is ready; a key feature for services like Google’s Stadia. The new API features allow apps to control and configure low latency playback for specific codecs.

Low latency HDMI mode

Time to get tested!

Some additional features and updates will prove useful for users, but they may not have a huge impact on developers. For example, the dark theme can now be set to change automatically based on the time of day. And screen recording is once again destined to make its way into our pockets, which could be useful for bug testing and marketing.

Programming on Android Studio laptops

As usual, developers can try this preview by flashing the system image of the device (download it here) on a compatible device or by installing it via the Android emulator in Android Studio (Canarian channel). The latter option also includes experimental support for 32-bit and 64-bit ARM binary app code running on system images of the 64-bit Android x86 emulator.

Read also: Android 11 release date: when can you expect it to start?

What do you think of all this? Is any of these features beneficial to your apps? What else would you like to see in future betas?

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