Notification management has always been the feature that Android absolutely nails, and we've already covered that Google continues improving it in Android 11 with the addition of a conversations class. It bundles real-time, bi- or multidirectional communication at the top of the notification shade. We've now also noticed that these conversations notifications offer a slew of new long-press options that help you manage them. The long-press menu for regular notifications remains unchanged, though.

When you long-press these conversations, you can favorite, snooze, or mute them, though these workflows don't seem to be finished at the moment. You can't choose snooze durations, and favoriting someone doesn't really do anything (though we assume this might hook into Contact and Phone's starred contacts to enable Do Not Disturb exemptions eventually).

A crossed out messages symbol to the right of a contact's information lets you demote the notification from a conversation to a regular one, but this option might very well be removed from the stable release of Android 11 — it could be meant to tame apps that don't work well with the new API at the moment. The gear icon takes you to the usual notification settings.


Left: Regular notification long-press menu. Middle: Conversation notification long-press. Right: Bubble interface.

If you choose the option "Show as bubble," the conversation will be broken out into a new, completely revamped bubble interface that lets you access the full app experience in a floating window, much like Facebook Messenger's chat heads.

It makes sense to put conversations front and center in the notification shade, though hiding many critical features behind a long-press menu might not be the most intuitive way to interact with them for many people. The conversations section also push media notifications further down, though another Android 11 experiment tests showing these among the quick setting tiles, so maybe Google is working on a satisfactory solution here.

Developer Preview 4 redesign

Prior to the Android 11 beta slated for June 3, Google released Developer Preview 4. While not too much changed compared to previous versions, the company has continued working on the new Conversations notification category. You'll see a miniature version of your contact's profile picture in the status bar instead of the corresponding app icon, but due to the small size, it's hard to make out who's contacting you.

Left: Profile picture in status bar. Middle & Right: Notification shade changes.

In the notification shade, you'll see a bigger variant of the same profile image (like you used to in earlier Android 11 versions) along with a new small app icon. When you long-press the card, you'll see that the custom menu has been removed, making way for the standard options like "Alerting" and "Silent," though there's also a new "Priority" category. It seems like you'll be able to use that to make conversations appear in bubbles, but the implementation isn't quite finished.

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