Switching on the airplane mode is a quick and easy way to disengage your phone from any network. Unfortunately, it also kills Bluetooth, so if you were listening to music, you'd have to turn Bluetooth back on and reconnect to your headphones or speakers. It looks like Google wants to change this all-in airplane mode behavior in Android 11 R by automatically leaving Bluetooth on when you're listening to music.

Our friends over at XDA Developers found an AOSP Gerrit entry referencing a new "Context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode." According to the appended description, the new behavior determines if your headphones or hearing aids are connected to your phone whenever you turn on airplane mode. When that's the case, the operating system won't disable Bluetooth along with the mobile radio and Wi-Fi.

Context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode

Do not automatically turn off Bluetooth when airplane mode is turned
on and Bluetooth is in one of the following situations:
1. Bluetooth A2DP is connected.
2. Bluetooth Hearing Aid profile is connected.

Since the commit specifically mentions that a media device must be connected via either A2DP or the hearing aid profile, it's unclear if Bluetooth will automatically stay on for smartwatches or fitness bands, as well.

With the rise of Bluetooth headphones (thanks to the removal of the headphone jack on many phones), it makes sense to implement a feature that makes it easier to keep listening to music while you board a plane. It'll come in handy for frequent travelers or people who want to turn off their radios for other reasons.

Live in Android 11

This behavior is present in Android 11's first developer preview, which just became available today. If you're playing music via a Bluetooth headset and you toggle on Airplane mode, Bluetooth will remain enabled and your music won't stop. You'll get a toast message warning you of this new behavior. This should be perfect for your next flights or other locations where you need to disconnect but can still enjoy your audio. Thanks, Armando!