Android 11 now available in Developer Preview

Google has released Android 11 as a preview for developers, who can now adapt their apps to the next version of Android and provide feedback in advance to help Google improve the robustness of the version. Android 11 indeed includes many behavioral changes that could affect existing apps, as well as new features and APIs and new privacy options.

Android 11 will support a host of new APIs for media management, connectivity, data sharing, machine learning and more.

The MediaStore API now supports performing batch operations on media files, including granting write access to files, creating “favorite” files and trash files or deleting them immediately. Apps can also use raw paths to access files to simplify the use of third-party libraries. To improve debugging performance, developers can load GLES and Vulkan graphical layers into the native application code.

The new ResourceLoader is ResourceProvider APIs allow apps to extend the way resources are searched and loaded. This is intended for loading custom resources, e.g. using a specific directory instead of the application APK. In addition, C / C ++ developers will be able to decode the image directly using NDK ImageDecoder API.

Machine learning support is another area where Android 11 offers new features, notably the addition of support for the new TensorFlow Lite quantization scheme, new ML controls for QoS and simplified data management between components to reduce data redundancy. Biometrics support is also extended with the new `BiometricManager.Authenticators interface.

Android 11 also introduces several privacy changes, including applying scoped storage, background location access, and a new one-off authorization model that should make it easier for users to access location, microphone, and camera in one step.

All of the privacy changes listed above affect existing apps and Google explicitly requires developers to verify that their apps are compatible with them. But Android 11 introduces some other behavioral changes that could have an impact on existing apps. For example, the JobScheduler The API now applies call limits to identify potential performance problems; furthermore, when the user twice denies a specific authorization, the operating system assumes that it means “do not ask again”; and last but not least, the ACTION_MANAGE_OVERLAY_PERMISSION now always displays the top level Settings screen, while it was used to bring the user to an app specific screen.

The number of changes made by Android 11 is too long to be completely covered here, so don’t miss the official documentation for full details. Also keep in mind that the development of Android 11 is not yet complete and Google plans to share new preview versions in the coming months.

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Why you should wait to buy a phone with a folding screen

A Galaxy Z Flip smartphone from Samsung Electronics Co. is displayed during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California, the United States, Tuesday February 11, 2020.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

I reviewed the latest Samsung phone with a foldable screen, the Galaxy Z Flip, earlier this week. It’s clean, but it’s still a bit of a party trick that costs $ 1,380. Many people are better off saving hundreds of dollars and buying a regular Galaxy S10, an iPhone 11 or any other device with a traditional form factor.

I still think that in the end we could carry all the devices with folding screens, especially because they promise to combine the advantages of a phone and a tablet with a larger screen in a single gadget. But some things have to change before we get there. Here’s what will help them make them mainstream.

durability

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold screen breaks after only two days of use. This phone costs $ 2,000.

TodD Haselton | CNBC

The biggest problem right now is the duration.

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip is the toughest folding phone ever, since it has some glass elements that add rigidity, but still has a very fragile plastic cover on the screen. If this is damaged by something as simple as a blow with a nail, the whole screen breaks, which is what could have happened to our Galaxy Fold last year (pictured above).

Most regular phones have a version of Corning’s Gorilla Glass that won’t break if you hit it too hard. I don’t know how we’ll get there, but once the screens are much more protected, folding phones will be easier to recommend.

Price

Motorola Razr with folding display

Motorola

Folding phones are still too expensive. Samsung’s first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, is still available and costs $ 1,980. The Galaxy Z Flip costs $ 1,380 and the Motorola RAZR on Verizon costs $ 1,500.

That’s a lot of money to spend on a phone that, apart from a folding display, is identical or less powerful than phones with similar prices with normal glass displays.

But folding screens require a new manufacturing process that is not as mature as that of glass. I think that as companies like Samsung find out how to make them cheaper, the prices of these gadgets will drop and be more attractive to the daily consumer.

Design

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The designs of the current range of foldable phones don’t really offer users many benefits. The Galaxy Z Flip folds down into a chunky square that might be better for people with tiny pockets, but I don’t see any other real design benefits. The Galaxy Fold has a nice 7-inch display similar to a tablet, but the external screen is so small that it’s not very nice to use when the phone is closed.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Todd Haselton | CNBC

But if we can get to a point where we have a really slim fold that opens in a regular phone or something that looks and feels like today’s phones but opens to a big tablet, then maybe they’ll be more attractive. Batteries are really bulky, first of all, and will have to become much thinner so that manufacturers can make foldable phones with thinner profiles.

Apple

The first customers show their iPhone X sets in an Apple showroom in Sydney on November 3, 2017.

Saeed Khan | AFP | Getty Images

Finally, I think Apple should be involved in helping to bring traditional folding display phones.

Many companies do things before Apple, but often those changes don’t become popular until Apple does them better.

In 2007 there were smartphones from BlackBerry, Palm, Motorola and others before the iPhone, for example, but Apple has perfected the design and launched a new era of the phone. Tablets existed before the iPad, but no one bought them until Apple showed us that they can make sense as laptops.

Apple has a cult following of users who already have iPhones and who may not purchase a folding screen until there is one that runs the same software they are already used to.

I don’t know what Apple will do, but we didn’t even know what Apple would have done before the iPhone or iPad for those to change entire sectors. Maybe find a way to get rid of the crease. Maybe create a product with a better design than all the others. Either way, Samsung could take advantage of it if Apple entered the market, as it is one of the suppliers of Apple displays.

Time

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Todd Haselton | CNBC

All of this will take time. Folding screens are still in their infancy. Samsung has done a great job showing that people can buy gadgets that were once just science fiction. Its devices will only improve with the release of new iterations every year. Over time, prices will drop, screens will get stronger and devices will become thinner. But until these changes occur, the only people who buy products with folding screens will be the same types of people who love high-end sports cars: people who want to buy a rare and expensive product that most other people does not own.

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