Android 11 has been out for a while now, and though things might look pretty similar coming from Android 10, there are plenty of changes inside, from revamped privacy and security to partitioning "conversations" into their own new notification category. Now that you've had some time to play with this latest version and you've read our review, here's the Android Police changelog for Android 11.

Google's revamped Android 11 release timeline, following earlier delays.

Before we dive in, we'd like to thank you: our tipsters and readers. Our job would be so much harder if it weren't for you helping us spot new stuff to look into, and AP ❤️s you.

Updated to the final release

Our list has been updated to include all spotted changes up until Android 11's final, stable release, and you might notice a few items have been removed from the master list, not just added. Turns out, some features previously thought to be part of Android 11 later also trickled down to earlier versions via other means, so they've been crossed out and shuffled off to a separate section — which may yet be tweaked slightly over time.

Also, sorry for the delay in our final changelog. I've been buying a house.

The "What's new" section below includes all changes since Android 11 Beta 1, and also notes item removals at the bottom.

What's new?

New features added since our last update/Beta 1:

  • Better access to simultaneous camera streams for apps: API refinements in Android 11 let developers query which camera combinations can be simultaneously streamed, and use more and different combinations.
  • Per-process network access for apps: This sounds minor, but it's good for user security, essentially letting developers limit which processes have network access, potentially protecting user data in the event of a bug or some exploits.
  • Conversations get a bubble shortcut icon: Whether you have them enabled or disabled, if the app supports bubbles for a conversation, you can turn them on with a single tap and open the bubble mode.
  • "All files" access permission for scoped storage won't be supported until 2021: As part of the scoped storage changes in Android 11, developers won't have access to the planned all files permission until 2021. If it is required, developers are told to stick to targeting earlier API levels for now.
  • Improved media controls: The new Quick Settings media controls, which first appeared as a developer option in Beta 1, are now enabled by default as of Beta 2 and later, with some layout improvements that make it an even better experience.
    • As of Beta 3, you can swipe to dismiss them, they have a new divider, and there's a "hide player when media session has ended" option.
  • Disable auto-reconnect for specific Wi-Fi networks: Android 11 lets you disable a new "Auto-connect" setting on a per-network basis, preventing you from joining it as soon as it's discovered.
  • Now Playing gets a history button.
  • Built-in screen recorder now records audio: Fixing one of the last few omissions in Android 11's screen recorder, it can now also capture audio.
  • Swiping up on secondary home screens takes you to the primary home screen: This may end up being Pixel-only (or only arrive on phones that use launchers based on the AOSP Launcher 3), but the home gesture now takes you to the first page of your home screen — like how the non-gesture home button works.
  • New 'Allow screen overlays on Settings' developer option lets apps draw on top of Settings screens.
  • No scrolling screenshots in Android 11: Google said they were coming, but the company wants to do things right rather than just implement a "hack" like most other software skins with the feature use. When it comes, we'll get a proper framework that should work better than current implementations.
  • Device Drop Monitor: New app present on the Pixel 4 gathers data regarding phone drops, potentially following up what it captures with a survey asking for more information about the surface it hit and if your phone had a case on it. This is almost assuredly a Pixel-exclusive feature.
  • Power menu tweaks: Google subtly tweaked some of the power control options in Android 11, limiting you to three and placing additional options based on custom settings into sub-menus or an overflow menu.
  • New screenshot markup interface: Google has adjusted the native screenshot editor in Android 11 to add a delete option, as well as a handful of other graphical tweaks.
  • New captive portal API for public Wi-Fi: Though it might take a while for access points to be tweaked to support it, Android 11 makes way for a better, more standardized way of logging into public Wi-Fi connections.
  • Android 11 Easter egg do-over: Android 11 brings back the classic cat-collecting Easter Egg from Android 7.0 Nougat, but this time it uses the new Bubbles and smart home controls in the power menu.
    • Together with the Easter egg is the new Android 11 logo in settings.
  • Option to force high refresh rate returns with a more general name: Google killed the old "Force 90Hz" developer option, replacing it with a new, more generic "Smooth Display" setting that implies compatibility with even higher refresh rate displays.
  • New and redesigned emoji: Android 11 delivers 117 new emoji and redesigns several older ones — though we find the changes less "Google-y." (Bring back the blobs, you cowards.)
  • Improved password autofill: Thanks to some behind-the-scenes tweaks in Android 11 to the autofill process, passwords and other sensitive autofill data can appear in keyboard suggestion strips rather than in a drop-down menu, and Gboard takes advantage of it.
  • All phones with Android 11 and 5GHz Wi-Fi will support Wireless Android Auto.
  • Camera nerfing: Android 11 adjusts a handful of camera "intents" actions to only work with the pre-installed system camera in the name of privacy and to prevent concerns regarding surreptitious gathering of location data. Third-party camera apps will still work, but they won't be selectable as actions for certain workflows inside other apps.
  • Sideloading app restart tweak: When you grant permission to an app in Android 11 as a source to sideload from, Android will now restart the app in the background rather than taking you back immediately to where you were, though the sideloading process itself won't work any differently. This is a result of filesystem and storage changes with Scoped Storage in R that require the app restart to take advantage of the change in permissions granted.
  • Android 11 supports separate Google Assistant volume, but it isn't live yet.
  • Firm Presses can expand notification bundles.
  • Android 11 fixes the stupid default app link handling setup process: Android 10 changed how default apps were set of certain links or intents, making it convoluted and down-right stupid. Android 11 reverts to more rational behavior, so you can tap "always" and not have to putz around in settings. Low-key one of Android 11's best features.
  • Android 11's sound output picker can list cast devices: Apps don't support it yet in our testing (they need a new library), but you'll be able to pick cast targets like Chromecast and Assistant smart speakers from the Android 11 sound output picker.
  • Quick settings shows fewer tiles on Android 11: Perhaps the most unloved change in Android 11 restricts the number of quick settings tiles that are visible, even in the expanded menu. By default, the most you can see at any time are two rows (or six icons), but in certain configurations like with a VPN connected on certain aspect ratios, you may only have one row of expanded tiles visible, which is ridiculous.
  • "Remove permissions if app isn't used" is the new name for the auto-revoke permissions setting in the final release.
  • Permissions tweaks to accommodate COVID exposure notification apps: Google broke out Bluetooth scanning permissions from general location permissions to ensure exposure notification apps can't collect too much data, starting in Android 11 Beta 3 and presumably present at launch.

"Removed" or not actually Android 11 features

These features ended up landing on earlier Android versions via other means, like Play Services updates, or they're Pixel-specific features not explicitly tied to Android 11 itself. However, they're still worth pointing out, as many features may make their way from Pixel devices to other phones, and some devices may not get them until they receive an Android 11 update.

The Android 11 feature list

Entirely new Android 11 features

Visual tweaks

Privacy and security changes

  • Temporary/one-time app permissions: Android 11 adds the option to grant some permissions "Only this time," so you can continue to decide on a case-by-case basis.
  • Scoped Storage is back: Introduced in Android Q, we got a one-year reprieve before Scoped Storage goes into effect, and it will debut with Android 11. It may be slower, and it will interfere with some legacy operations, but Google champions the effect it will have on user privacy, sandboxing app storage better. Some apps may also be able to secure exemptions, like file managers and backup apps.
  • Repeatedly denying permission requests will block them: If an application requests a permission twice, and it's denied by the user both times, the app will be blocked from requesting the permission again.
  • Extra tap to grant overlay permissions: Overlay-based attacks are a serious concern for the Android platform. Starting in Android 11, apps that need you to grant it can't simply take you to the toggle, they can only dump you to the level before it, where you have to then navigate to the option and turn it on yourself. It's just one extra tap, but it might make a difference for those blindly granting permissions to malware.
  • No more background location access: Although apps can request an exemption, Google is pressuring developers to stop letting apps request continuous location access, so they can't gather that information in the background, only while they're running and you are aware of them. All new apps must meet this requirement by August, and in November, any that don't meet the requirement will be booted from the Play Store.
  • "Require eyes to be open" setting for face unlock on Pixel 4: This showed up in Android 11 DP2 first.
  • Unused app permissions are automatically revoked after some time: If you don't use an app for long enough (and we don't know how long that's supposed to be yet), it will eventually lose permissions you've granted it.
    • Furthermore, all permissions are set to revoke in this manner by default as of DP4. The change may have reverted in Beta 1, but it seems to be live again as of the final release.
    • This setting is now named "Remove permissions if app isn't used" in the final Android 11 release, and it isn't present for all apps.
  • Per-process network access for apps: This sounds minor, but it's good for user security, essentially letting developers limit which processes have network access, potentially protecting user data in the event of a bug or some exploits.
  • Camera nerfing: Android 11 adjusts a handful of camera "intents" actions to only work with the pre-installed system camera, in the name of privacy and to prevent concerns regarding surreptitious gathering of location data. Third-party camera apps will still work, but they won't be selectable as actions for certain workflows inside other apps.
  • Permissions tweaks to accommodate COVID exposure notification apps: Google broke out Bluetooth scanning permissions from general location permissions to ensure exposure notification apps can't collect too much data, starting in Android 11 Beta 3 and presumably present at launch.

Modifications to existing features

Under the hood/developer/API changes

  • Thanks:
  • Mishaal Rahman