Google has recently released the Android 11 developer preview with almost 100 new features and enhancements. This is an early baseline build for developers and is due for release in Q3 2020.
Here’s a quick summary of the exciting changes that Android 11 has brought and expected to be available in the final stable release and how it affects digital marketer’s strategies.
1. Notifications Changes with Respect to People and Conversations
In Android 11, there are changes highlighting the importance of people related functionalities which will help brands create deeper conversational experiences.
With the dedicated ‘Conversations’ section in the notification shade — users can now instantly find their ongoing conversations with people in their favorite apps in the ocean of notifications. With this, the notifications related to chats (E.g. Whatsapp, Hangouts, Messenger) will be grouped into a separate section and shown at the top.
Bubbles, earlier previewed in Android 10, are a great way to keep ongoing conversations in view and accessible while multitasking on their phones.
With Bubbles, messaging apps can show the conversations in a floating layout like the fancy chat heads of Facebook’s Messenger application.
1.3. Priority conversations
For people conversations, users now have an option to mark certain conversations as “priority”. This puts the sender’s avatar on your lock screen and optionally allows them to break through the Do Not Disturb settings.
If you are a marketer sending promotional notifications to get users to open your app, you can expect reduced interaction or click rates as alerting notifications will be moved a little lower in the notification drawer.
2. Insert images into notification replies
Inline replies in the Notification panel are undoubtedly one of the best features of Android. Taking that to the next level in Android 11, one can send images from the Notification panel through a copy-paste option. Users no longer need to open any app just for the sake of sending attachments.
As part of this developer preview, you’ll see image copy support in Chrome and image paste support via Gboard clipboard.
If your app supports image copy & paste, you can now let users insert images directly into notification inline replies to enable richer communication, that you would already be having in the app itself.
3. One-Time Permissions
Each year we’ve seen Android adding more ways to keep users secure and increase transparency and control. For example in Android 10, Android had added the “Allow only while using the app” permission option to give users more granular control over their location and limit background location access. So far, as per the stats, when given the “Allow only while using the app” option, about half of users select it.
Now, in Android 11, more control over permissions is now given to end users with a new option: “Only this time”. Moreover, unlike the previous versions which provided this option to just location permissions, Android 11 included it for camera, and microphone permissions. This permission implies that apps can access the data until the user moves away from the app, and they must then request permission again for the next access.
Android also removed “Allow always” from the permissions dialog, at least in the first developer preview release.
These changes in permissions could be a big problem for marketers if their apps track user location always in the background to trigger communications (Geo fence based triggers!). It would become interesting to see how app owners will implement the permission request balancing the UX, especially if camera. microphone or location access are critical to the app’s core functionality.
4. Other New Features
Below are a few more enhancements that we were already expecting in Android 11.
4.1 Auto Dark Mode
The auto dark mode was highly anticipated when Google introduced Dark Mode in Android 10. Users will now be able to set dark mode to turn on automatically on sunset or any custom timings. You don’t need to use third-party apps anymore to automate dark mode in stock Android.
This feature simply increases the chances of users using dark mode. If your app still doesn’t support dark mode, it is high time you ensure that your app, your push notifications still look great in the dark mode.
4.2 Mute notifications while shooting videos
Android 11 will mute the app notifications while recording videos. This is definitely something that would be helpful but not extraordinary.
4.3 Notifications history
Notifications history is the new feature in Android 11 to see the prior notifications of a specific app. Users will be able to access it via Apps & notifications -> Notifications -> Advanced -> Notification history. Once that’s done, your recently dismissed messages and other pings will appear in a dedicated interface, accessible via a History shortcut in your notification shade. We really hope it makes it way into the final stable release.
While this was available earlier as notification logs, ‘Notification History’ section makes the entire set of notifications directly accessible to your users.
4.4 5G experiences
55G brings consistently faster speeds and lower latency to more users around the world. With 5G you can extend your Wi-Fi only app experiences such as streaming 4K video or loading higher-resolution game assets to mobile users. Alternatively, you can build new experiences designed specifically for 5G where possibilities are endless. In Android 11, the existing connectivity APIs are enhanced so you can take the advantage of 5G’s improved speeds.
4.5 New screen types
We are seeing device makers continuously innovating by bringing exciting new form-factors and device screens to market. Android 11 has extended support for these in the platform so that you can optimize your apps.
Pinhole and waterfall screens — Your apps can manage pinhole screens and waterfall screens using the existing display cutout APIs. If you want, a new API lets your app use the entire waterfall screen including the edges, with insets to help you manage interaction near the edges.
The logo for the Android 11 release features a dial turned to 11 and is a reference to the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap.
Original scene goes like this — While Nigel is showing Marty his Marshall guitar amplifiers, he points out a selection whose control knobs all have a highest setting of eleven, unlike standard amplifiers whose volume settings are typically numbered from 0 to 10. Believing that this numbering increases the highest volume of the amp, he explains “It’s one louder, isn’t it?” When Marty asks why the ten setting is not simply set to be louder, Nigel hesitates before responding blankly again “These go to eleven”.
The implication of the reference is that the things that are seemingly the same are perceived differently due to mislabeling or the user’s failure to understand the operating mechanism.
What do you think? Is this the case with Android 11 as well? In my honest opinion, a lot of changes of Android 11 seem like mostly rearranging of the features and adding new little tweaks and it is all about making the stuff you actually want to do or see a bit easier to find.