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Google Ships First Android 11 Developer Preview

Google announced an early developer-only preview of Android 11, inviting coders to put the next edition of its flagship mobile OS through its paces on Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 4 devices.

The developer preview follows the September 2019 release of Android 10, the source code for which was donated to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

The preview includes tweaks and improvements affecting system behavior, privacy and security, and new features and APIs for 5G, sharing, connectivity, media, NNAPI, biometrics and other areas.

As it targets developers only, the preview can only be installed via manual download and flash, and system images ae available only for the aforementioned devices.

Privacy and security considerations received special attention in the preview.

"Privacy has always been at the core of Android, and each year we've added more ways to keep users secure and increase transparency and control," said Dave Burke, VP of Engineering, in a Feb. 19 blog post. "These changes have been popular with users - for example in Android 10 we added the 'While app is in use' permission option to give users more granular control over their location and limit background location access. So far, when given the 'While app is in use' option, about half of users select it.

"In Android 11 we're continuing our focus on user privacy with new permission options, updates to scoped storage, and more. Please give these features a try with your apps right away and let us know what you think."

On the security side of things, Burke detailed improvements in biometrics, platform hardening, secure storage and sharing of data and identity credentials.

Other improvements and tweaks run the gamut across:

  • 5G functionality
  • New screen types
  • People and conversations
  • Neural Networks API 1.3

Today's post provides more details on all of the above and more, along with guidance to set up systems to test Android 11, after which developer testers are invited to:

  • Try the new features and APIs - your feedback is critical during the early part of the developer preview. We're actively looking for your input on our new APIs, while there's still time for use to make changes. For more on what's new, check out the API overview, API reference, and diff report. Please let us know your feedback and requests as soon as possible!
  • Test your current app for compatibility - the goal here is to learn whether your app is affected by default behavior changes in Android 11. Just install your current published app onto a device or emulator and test all of the app flows. If you find issues, we recommend updating your app soon.
  • Test your app with opt-in changes - Like in previous releases, Android 11 has opt-in behavior changes that only affect your app when it's targeting the new platform. It's extremely important to understand and assess these changes early. To make it easier to assess the impact, you can now toggle the changes on and off individually. As you test, please make sure to let us know how these changes are working for your app.

"As we get closer to a final product, we'll be inviting consumers to try it out as well, and we'll open up enrollments through Android Beta at that time," said Burke, who emphasized that Android Beta is not currently available for Android 11.

Android 11 Timeline
[Click on image for larger view.] Android 11 Timeline (source: Google).

As shown in the graphic above, the final public release is scheduled for the third quarter.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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