One of the bigger features in Android 11 is a new type of "bubble" notification, which has been in development for years and looks a bit like Facebook's ancient chat heads. Unfortunately, they require that apps specifically support them to work going forward. However, Google's first-party Messages app will pick up support for it "in the next week or two." The settings section for bubbles has also been changed slightly as of Android 11 Beta 1.
With Chat Heads, Facebook Messenger found a nifty way to let you juggle multiple conversations without having to jump back and forth between apps. Since their introduction in 2013 (yep, those bubbles are that old), Facebook has so far relied on a custom overlay solution. But with the latest beta, Messenger is switching to Android 11’s native Bubbles API, though not a whole lot is going to change for end-users.
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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.
Android's notification shade is easily one of the platform's best features, and Google has worked on fine-tuning the processes of interacting with and managing notifications throughout the operating system's development. Now with Android 11, Google is introducing its latest tweak to the notification shade in the form of a catch-all conversation section that should help keep things organized.
Android 11 is now official, and Google is releasing the first Developer Preview for this new version starting today. The software changes this time sound ambitious, with Google essentially taking most of its work on Android 10 and (literally) turning it up to 11, featuring enhancements to privacy and security, improvements to Project Mainline, a new dedicated "conversations" section for notifications, and tweaks to better harness 5G — all among a much longer list of changes just too big to include here. You can check it out for yourself by manually flashing it onto supported Pixel phones (everything but the 2016 OGs).
Android has been experimenting with floating bubble notifications for some time now, but there have been no apps with which to use the feature despite the option being available within the developer menu. XDA had uncovered that Google was testing the new bubble functionality in its Messages app, and they have now managed to enable it. Implemented in the app, it works very similarly to Facebook Chat heads, and if eventually enabled by Google, will let you view entire conversations in addition to replying.
You might recall the massive failure that was Facebook Home, but one part of that disaster became an integral part of the Messenger app: chat heads. In Android Q Beta 2, Google has unveiled a framework to make chat head-like functionality part of Android. It could be more than that eventually, but it doesn't appear to do much of anything right now.