- Android 11’s best features include useful improvements like a new power button menu, communication features, and a notification history.
- Google released Android 11 in 2020, and it’s available as an upgrade for many phones.
- Here’s an overview of all the most useful new features in Android 11.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
Google released Android 11 in late 2020, though not all devices capable of upgrading to the new operating system received it right away. The OS has been rolling out slowly for months now, so if you don’t have it yet, you may soon. This newest version of Android adds a handful of new and useful features to Android 10, along with 117 new emoji that includes some gender-neutral and transgender representation.
Android 11’s best features
Keep in mind that not all these features will appear in all devices. If you have a Samsung phone, for example, the Android 11 version of Samsung’s One UI doesn’t offer every feature because Samsung has replaced it with something unique in One UI. Here are the features to look for, or if you are still waiting to get Android 11, the features to look forward to.
A more useful power button menu
Hold down your phone’s power button to see a new expanded page of commands. Now you can dial 911, shut down or restart your phone, along with access to Google Wallet and your smart home devices. You can customize the devices that appear on this page as well. Google doesn’t require all phone makers to implement this page, though, so you will only see it on certain handsets (like Google Pixel phones).
Dynamic media controls
The media player has been moved slightly to the bottom of the Quick Settings pane. Swipe down from the top of the screen to see a miniplayer; swipe again to see the full-size player. In addition, if you have more than one media app running, you can swipe side to side to see the controls for each one.
A built-in screen recorder
Finally, Google has implemented a standard screen recorder in Android. You can now open the screen recorder from the notification panel and screen record on an Android without using a third-party app.
Greater control over conversation notifications
Android 11 has “promoted” conversations. Now all conversations from text messages and other chat apps appear in their own section, separate from other notifications. Moreover, you have control over the priority of these conversations — you can allow them to appear normally, set certain ones to always appear at the top of the list, or make them “silent,” which turns off notification sounds and makes them appear at the bottom of the list.
Recall cleared notifications with notification history
If you clear a notification and instantly regret it because you don’t recall what it said, you’ll appreciate the new notification history in Android 11. Found in Settings, it lets you see all notifications you cleared in the last 24 hours.
Pin your favorite apps in the share page
The Share page is a little cleaner and easier to use now, with the ability to pin your favorite apps to the top of the list, just below your share contacts. Just tap and hold an app to see the option to pin it. Keep in mind that many apps still use their own custom share menu, so this might only be of limited use, at least for now.
Schedule dark theme
Thanks to Android 10, you have been able to enable the popular dark theme to save battery life and reduce stress on your eyes in the evening and morning hours for some time. But rather than needing to turn it on and off manually, Android 11 now has a scheduler — you can use Settings to turn it on and off at sunrise/sunset or schedule it for a specific time of day.
Grant temporary permission to apps
App permissions have gotten more granular in Android 11. Now it’s possible to grant temporary permission for the current session only. Once the app closes, that permission is revoked. Of course, it’s still possible to grant permanent permission for the app if you prefer.
Voice Access gets smarter
Android’s Accessibility features include Voice Access, a feature that lets you control the phone’s interface via voice command. In the past, there were many situations in which you had to pick options off the screen using numbers, but in Android 11, the OS has a better understanding of the context of your commands. As a result, most of the need of choosing options via numbers is gone.
App suggestions (Pixel phones only)
An enhancement for Pixel phones only at this time, Android 11 fills unused slots in the bottom row of the home screen with suggested apps which the OS thinks you might want to use. If you want to turn this feature off so random apps don’t appear on the home screen, tap and hold an empty spot on the home screen and choose “Home settings,” then tap “Suggestions” and change the options.
Enterprise privacy improvements
If you have a phone that’s issued to you by your employer, it’s likely managed by Google’s Android Enterprise software, which has control of the phone’s apps, permissions, and data. Starting with Android 11, there’s now the option for a separate personal profile which is managed independently from the enterprise profile. This gives users additional privacy along with features like separate tabs for work and personal use when they share files. There’s also the option of pausing the work profile so employees can “disconnect” from work at the end of the day and use the phone entirely as a personal device.