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.
Android Auto has traditionally required connecting your phone to a car with a USB cable, but a wireless mode was introduced in 2018 for some Pixel phones. Samsung devices were later added to the compatibility list, and starting with Android 11, every Android phone that supports 5GHz Wi-Fi should be capable of running wireless Android Auto.
Android has offered native autofill since Android 9 Pie, but despite that being an official method, actually filling out passwords and addresses is sometimes wonky, and phones often need a few seconds to recognize password entry fields. Google wants to improve that experience with Android 11 and has introduced a new autofill method that integrates with your keyboard, be it Gboard or a third-party app.
Android's emoji set has never been the consistent, culturally accepted staple that Apple's is. For a long time, users of stock Android enjoyed a fun, expressive collection of blobs. Google refined them to be more visually consistent in 2016's release of Android Nougat, only to completely get rid of the blobs the next year. Now, Google is giving its Noto Emoji their biggest visual change since the blobs melted.
The setting to forcibly enable the Pixel 4 to a 90Hz-always mode has been brought back as of Android 11 Beta 3. So far as we can tell, the setting was removed in Beta 2. However, it has been brought back — seemingly with a new name.
Android 11's Easter egg has landed as part of the Beta 3 release, and it should probably be familiar to folks that remember Android 7 Nougat. That's right — the cats are back. Get ready for some kitty collecting.
Google's habit of pushing out bug-fixing releases for the Android 11 Developer Previews and Betas continues. Today we're getting Android 11 Beta 2.5, which delivers a small pile of bug fixes on top of the existing Beta 2 release, including the long-awaited fix for the low-brightness flickering issue that affected the Pixel 4.