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Google’s first Android 11 developer preview brings permissions tweaks and more

Android 11’s path to release has finally begun. Google announced the first developer preview for Android 11, and it’s now available for developers who want to start building apps and services for the next version of Android.

It’s important to note that the majority of consumer-facing features in Android 11 won’t be announced until Google I/O 2020 in May. Instead, this first developer preview serves as a way to introduce developers to new APIs — like new APIs around 5G and permissions.

That said, there are some major new features that will make Android 11 useful for everyone. Notably, perhaps the most important new feature is the new “one-time permission,” which will be available for apps that only need to access things like location once. With this feature, a person can grant access to location once, after which it will be rescinded later.

The notification panel is getting a tweak as well. For example, Google is adding a dedicated “conversations” section in the notification shade, which Google says will help people “find their ongoing conversations with people in their favorite apps.” It’s currently unclear exactly what this feature will look like, as Google hasn’t included screenshots.

Android 11 will continue to get more modular, too. In Android 10, Google made components of Android updatable through Google Play, allowing the company to update parts of Android without having to release full Android updates. That continues with Android 11, with 12 new modules — bringing the total to 20 modules.

Perhaps cooler than the modularity of Android is the fact that Android will soon support digital driver licenses. Android 11 will get support for “secure storage and retrieval of verifiable identification documents, such as ISO 18013-5 compliant Mobile Driving Licenses.” Google says it will have more to share on this feature in the near future.

Other, smaller new features include that Android 11 offers better call screening services, camera improvements like new bokeh modes.

The first Android 11 Developer Preview is now available to those with a Pixel 2 or later. We recommend you only download this early build of the operating system if it’s not on your primary device, and you’re willing to put up with bugs.

More features in Android 11 will be added in the near future, and Google will likely share more details about the operating system as time goes on. We’re expecting the majority of new features to be announced at Google I/O 2020.

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