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Google launches Android 11, and it’s coming to more than just Pixel phones

Android 11, Google’s latest and greatest mobile operating system, is officially here.

While Android 11 has been in public beta for a few months now, it’s now out of beta and available to consumers — though not all of them.

A Google blog post says the new operating system will be available for all Pixel 2 and later devices, as well as select phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Realme. It turns out, however, that only Pixel phones are getting stable releases — and the other companies are pushing the update as part of a beta.

Android 11 isn’t a giant visual overhaul but does offer some new features for the operating system. Notably, Android 11 gives users better privacy controls, including one-time permissions. That’s a feature that has been available on iOS for some time, and is handy for those who want to take control of their digital privacy.

Android 11 will also now “auto-reset” permissions for apps that you haven’t used in a while.

Google is also making it a little easier to get privacy updates on your phone. In Android 11, you’ll be able to get privacy patches the same way you would update an app, straight through the Google Play Store. That means that privacy patches can be pushed without the need for a full operating system update.

There are also some visual changes. Perhaps most notable is the new “power off” screen, which offers access to Google Pay and your most-used smart home devices.

It’s essentially Google’s answer to Apple’s Control Center, and adds more of a visual touch to Google Home, which has traditionally been controlled through Google Assistant.

The other major new visual control, Bubbles, ties together all your chat apps into one interface. Bubbles work the same way that chat heads did for Facebook Messenger, allowing you to access individual chats. Bubbles is unlike Messenger, however, in that it works across a range of apps — meaning that you could reply to chats from Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Messages, and so on, without having to switch between apps.

Pixel phones have a few extra features too. There’s a new AR location sharing feature to let users find their friends and a new Smart Reply feature that’s built into Gboard on Pixel devices.

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