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Developer Preview 3 is definitely the smallest update to Android 11 so far, at least when it comes to features. Still, automatically revoking permissions and Ethernet tethering support are new, and there's another change that flew under the radar — a way to bring back apps cleared from the Recents screen.
On previous versions of Android, swiping an app out of the Recents screen clears it from active memory, with no way to bring it back (except opening the app again from your launcher). Accidentally swiped up and closed an important conversation? Tough luck.
Starting with Android 11 Developer Preview 3, you can now swipe down from the top of the screen to re-open the last app that was swiped away. Android doesn't seem to clear the app from memory until you exit the Recents screen (or swipe away more than one app), so in most cases, you don't even lose your position or what you were typing.
However, the gesture seems to be very buggy at the moment, at least on my Pixel 3a. Most of the time, swiping down from the top of the screen does nothing, and I usually have better luck swiping down on the sides. That's the nature of beta-quality software, I suppose.
Gesture is gone
As originally spotted by 9to5Google, the swipe gesture seems to be gone in Developer Preview 4. Perhaps it will make a comeback once the bugs have been worked out.
The ability to bring back closed apps seems to still be available. As our reader Moshe pointed out, if you swipe away an app in the Recents screen and immediately tap the home button, the app won't actually be removed from active memory.
This is most likely a bug, so it's not clear if Google was working on a new implementation of the feature in DP4 and didn't finish in time, or if the feature was removed and this is just some leftover code. Only time will tell.
- Mishaal Rahman (Twitter)