Android 11 Preview 2 hands-on:
More polish and a replacement install method
It came out much later in March than we expected, but yesterday Google launched the second developer preview for Android 11, subsequent big version of Android due out at the end of the year. Despite the coronavirus disrupting almost every a part of normal life, Google posted an equivalent schedule it did with Preview 1, indicating that the plan remains to possess a preview release every month. (Elsewhere in Google, the Chrome team is taking a special approach and pausing releases for a short time .)
The notification panel is all types of various in Preview 2. Google went crazy with notification category titles. Precious space within the notification panel is now sucked up by giant titles labeled “Conversations,” “Alerting Notifications,” and “Silent Notifications.” These aren’t only hard to read because they are text on a semi-transparent surface; they also don’t make plenty of sense. “Alerting notifications” is employed for everything that may not silent or a conversation, but may be a music player really an “alerting” notification? Is Google Maps?
Semantics aside, i used to be really hoping the notification panel would be more conservative of vertical notification panel space, less wasteful of it. These giant titles suck up space that would be wont to display more notifications, and that they don’t really add anything. A lot of the planning here looks like it’s under construction. Even the fast settings spacing at the highest is all tousled .
Google features a hidden experiment in Android 11 that does save plenty of vertical space: XDA Developers found a setting that separates the notification panel and therefore the quick settings into separate panels, just like Apple’s Control Center. This would release space within the notification panel, and then , maybe spending some space on titles wouldn’t be so bad? These still seem huge. Separating the notification panel and therefore the quick settings seems like an excellent idea. The two panels are in no way related, I always know which one I’m aiming for once I navigate to the panel, and that i never want to seem at one panel and then the other. There really is not any reason for the 2 panels to be roommates.
Just like in Preview 1, anything identified as a “Conversation” notification gets a special long-press menu. The menu has been tweaked a touch during this release, with a carot button for labeling a contact as “important” a bit like in Gmail’s priority inbox. Labeling a contact as “important” will change the notification status bar icon from the app icon thereto person’s profile picture. Google is basically taking advantage of high-resolution displays here.
New buttons have come to light
There’s a new button at rock bottom of the notification panel called “History,” which can open the new Notification History screen. Just like it sounds, this is often an enormous list of all the notifications that have arrived lately. Before, notifications completely vanished once you dismissed them, and if this happened accidentally, it had been a serious bummer. As an analog to a browser history, a notification history sounds great, but there are a couple of oddities during this build. First, the history shortcut only shows up if you’ve got a lively notification within the notification panel. This looks like a bug, like Google gave the “history” button an equivalent behavior because the “clear all” button and called it each day . Ideally, the history button would always be within the notification panel, and if you are doing something like accidentally press the “clear all” button, you’d be ready to easily jump to the history. The second oddity is that there is no other thanks to access the notification history aside from this tiny button. An option within the “Notifications” section of the settings seems appropriate. It’s a beta.
The Notification History screen itself is strange, too. You get an inventory of old notifications, but they do not work like notifications. At the highest are “Recently Dismissed” notifications, and tapping on these does absolutely nothing—there’s no thanks to interact with “Recently Dismissed” notifications in the least . Below that are notifications from “Today,” and in contrast to the primary section, these are bundled by app. You can expand the app bundle with a faucet , then tapping on each notification will jump to the notification settings.
I assume the purpose of notification history is to catch that one notification you mistakenly dismissed, during which case I hope the ultimate version of notification history finishes up working like a copy of the notification panel. The notification panel gives you access to each control you’ll want, and immediately the history screen doesn’t . In the panel, you’ll tap on a notification to open the app, swipe it to the side to access snooze, and long-press to access quick notification settings like setting the importance. There’s also a gear you’ll tap on to leap to the most notification settings. Making the notification history work just like the notification panel would be tons more predictable and have more functionality. Right now the Notification History may be a complete surprise that does not make any sense.
Progress continues on the native screen recorder. There’s not a far better pop-up, a countdown start timer within the status bar, and a dramatic red “YOU ARE RECORDING” notification that’s bound to get anyone’s attention. You can enable the recording of touch points, which is good , and XDA found evidence that there’ll be an choice to record internal device audio within the future.
The new Web-based Android installer
While it isn’t directly Android 11 related, this second preview release is that the first time Google’s new Android Flash Tool has been used for a serious software release. Over at flash.android.com, there is a super-easy Web-based Android installer for your phone, and it’ll walk you thru everything needed to travel from a stock phone to flashing a new build of Android. You’ll be instructed to enable developer mode, unlock the bootloader, pick a build, and undergo the entire flashing process, with many reboots along the way.
Normally, you’d got to download drivers, download a part of the Android developer kit, download the OS build, and do all kinds of unzipping, file management, and command-line work to make this all work. The Web tool, even for the tech-savvy user, is much faster and easier. Google can even encode the build version within the URL, so instead of an enormous dropdown of devices and builds, the newest build for a Pixel 4 XL is at https://flash.android.com/build/6291673?target=coral-user&signed. Just click it and follow the instructions. (That’s to not say non-tech-savvy users should do any of this, by the way. Android 11 is an unstable alpha right now.)
Besides a slick UI and tons of labor on Google’s rear to form this work, an enormous enabler is Google’s “WebUSB” API, which allows a browser to speak to your plugged-in phone. WebUSB isn’t a W3C standard, so you will need a Chromium-based browser to use it. Even the Android version of Chrome will work, so you’ll actually use an Android phone to put in Android on another Android phone.