The final release of Android 11 earlier this month brought a ton of new features and improvements, but there was bound to be a bug or two with so many changes. The new media controls make the audio-listening experience a lot nicer, but they're still in need of some polish: some apps with currently playing audio can't be controlled unless you expand the quick settings panel.
Android 11 has been stable for a bit, and while it brought many improvements to the table, there are also a few regressions. One of these is a small but significant change to the quick settings tiles. Compared to earlier versions of the OS, Android 11 only displays two rows instead of three, even when the new media player isn't in use.
Android 11 introduced a nifty new interface for controlling media playback that lives among the quick settings tiles rather than the notifications. In it, there's also a button that allows you to choose the sound output (which has actually been around since Android 10). At the moment, it's only populated by your phone's speakers and bluetooth sources, even though it seems like adding Chromecast-enabled devices would be a no-brainer. It looks like Google thought the same, but it will have to be implemented by every single media app out there.
Android 10 introduced a serious regression when it comes to setting up link handling defaults. Instead of just leaving it be with the familiar "always open in this app" prompt after tapping a link that's supported by multiple apps, Android 10 would instead throw you into settings, where you'd have to confirm that you really want links to open in that application all the time in a drop-down menu. Thankfully, this behavior is a thing of the past in Android 11, which reintroduces the familiar two-tap solution.
As the Android 11 team worked on new features and system-level changes over these past few months of the beta process, the Google emoji team was doing the same, adding 117 new entries approved by the Unicode Commission. We got an early look at the updated emoji library last month, and now these emoji are saying hello to everyone as Android 11 begins rolling out to the general public.
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 gives you separate volume control for media, notifications, and alarms, but Google appears to be working on adding a fourth slider to the mix. The AOSP Android 11 code suggests that the company is at least considering to add dedicated volume control for voice assistants, including but not limited to Google Assistant.
While most companies try to hide display cutouts with wallpapers, seemingly as as something to be ashamed of, Google took the route of highlighting the Pixel 4a's pinhole cutout as a feature in its series of fun new wallpapers for the phone. Unfortunately, the latest Android 11 Beta (which the Pixel 4a just got) applies a crop to wallpapers for a new zoomed-in animation it does when entering the multitasking menu or app drawer, and that breaks all the cleverly designed wallpapers.
New Android releases always bring exciting new features to the table, but every once in a while, a beloved feature gets reworked or removed altogether. That's no different for Android 11, which made it more cumbersome to grant apps the permission to install APKs, requiring a restart of the application in question up until at least Developer Preview 4. While that requirement is still present on more recent builds, the situation is now slightly improved: when apps are programmed correctly, they'll restart the latest activity, making the experience as smooth as possible.
Android may have started with the mantra that developers are allowed to do anything as long as they can code it, but things have changed over the years as security and privacy became higher priorities. Every major update over the last decade has shuttered features or added restrictions in the name of protecting users, but some sacrifices may not have been entirely necessary. Another Android 11 trade-off has emerged, this time taking away the ability for users to select third-party camera apps to take pictures or videos on behalf of other apps, forcing users to rely only on the built-in camera app.