Towards the end of last month, Google announced some new features for its Snapshot Assistant interface which bring it closer to what we always hoped Google Now would become. Among the new capabilities was a birthday reminder, said to be coming soon to English-speaking markets along with a notification so that you can't miss it. These appear to be functional now, so keep an eye out for them.
Now that Android 11's codebase has been released, folks have started digging through looking for smaller changes that may have gone unnoticed — or which hide future as-yet-unimplemented features. One small but potentially useful tweak has been spotted: Android 11 expands the utility of the new "firm" or "deep" press feature on the Pixel 4 and later to let you expand bundled notifications.
Android Auto has been getting more activity lately, including big changes like a return to calendar integration, and smaller adjustments that quietly pop up from time to time. If you regularly play music or podcasts, there's a chance you've already spotted the latest change that gives new track notifications a little more animation.
With Android 11, Google introduced a basically picture-perfect copy of Messenger's chat heads as a system-wide feature, simply called bubbles. When messaging apps support it, they can display their interface on top of what you're doing on your screen, staying instantly accessible in the form of a floating bubble as soon as someone writes you. Following Facebook Messenger and Google Messages, Telegram has now joined the club and supports the new optional Android 11 notification display method.
YouTube has a few different methods of notifying you about new videos from specific channels, including push notifications on the mobile apps, alerts on the desktop site, and email. However, the last option is going away, as Google alleges email alerts aren't used very often.
Battery life has been an Android bugbear for years. While Google has made some significant changes to its mobile OS to improve things (with success, I'd argue), many popular smartphone makers still feel the need to take further steps to enhance longevity — and it's coming at a cost. Many go above and beyond the battery life enhancements featured in so-called "stock" Android, and frequently these alterations cause problems, resulting in issues ranging from delayed notifications, to prematurely killed apps, and even outright breaking behaviors that developers rely on. In fact, the lack of predictability that has ensued under the current laissez-faire power management scheme has become so dire that it recently took the top spot in a developer AMA request thread for Android 11 on reddit.
Chrome 84 entered beta just a few weeks ago, but it's already rolling out on the stable channel across all platforms. This is one of the most significant Chrome updates we've seen in a while, with a few removed features and new functionality for both regular people and developers. Let's dive right in!
Google's Android AMA is underway, and the team's engineers have already answered the most hotly-anticipated question: How will Google fix the problem of inconsistent background limits across different manufacturers and devices? It's a long-standing problem where overly aggressive power management tweaks break functionality in plenty of apps, resulting in a headache for developers and frustration for users. According to the AMA, Google does plan on making a few changes to help fix things, but the company isn't doing all that it could.
Android may be more functional than iOS for most users when it comes to notifications, but you have to admit there's a level of polished elegance to Apple's panel and control center. Some users might even prefer the translucent design and separated notifications and quick toggle pages. If you're one of those people, or just interested in trying out iOS on your Android device, a new app from Treydev might be worth a look.
In a rather annoying move late last year, Google got rid of the Play Store notifications that showed up after your apps got automatically updated. The confusing removal process at first looked like a bug plaguing a handful of users, but Google soon clarified that it was all willful. Taking a U-turn on its initial stance, the company is bringing back those notifications in the Play Store and the associated settings, and they’ve already started appearing for some users.