Yesterday Google announced the Android 11 Developer Preview 2 update for Pixel users. This is a follow up to the first Preview that was released back in February. The new update brings more changes to the OS and gives us a peek at what to expect from the upcoming update. You can head below to check out the full changelog for the update.
New features and changes in Android 11 Developer Preview 2:
- 5G state API – DP2 adds a 5G state API to let you quickly check whether the user is currently on a 5G New Radio or Non-Standalone network. You can use this to highlight your app’s 5G experience or branding when the user is connected. You can use this API together with the 5G dynamic meteredness API and bandwidth estimator API, as well as existing connectivity APIs, to take advantage of 5G’s improved speeds and latency.
- Hinge angle for foldables – A top request for foldable devices has been an API to get the angle of the device screen surfaces. Android 11 now supports a hinge angle sensor that lets apps query directly or through a new AndroidX API for the precise hinge angle, to create adaptive experiences for foldables.
- Call screening service improvements – To help users manage robocalls, we’re adding new APIs to let call-screening apps do more to help users. In addition to verifying an incoming call’s STIR/SHAKEN status (standards that protect against caller ID spoofing) as part of its call details, call-screening apps can report a call rejection reason. Apps can also customize a system-provided post call screen to let users perform actions such as marking a call as spam or adding to contacts. We’ll have more to share on this soon.
- New ops and controls in Neural Networks API – Activation functions control the output of nodes within a neural network. At Google AI, we discovered a swish activation function allowing for faster training time and higher accuracy across a wide variety of tasks. In Android 11, we’re adding a computationally efficient version of this function, the hard-swish op.This is key to accelerating next-generation on-device vision models such as MobileNetV3 which forms the base model for many transfer learning use cases. Another major addition is the Control ops enabling more advanced machine learning models that support branching and loops. Finally, we’ve also added new execution controls to help you minimize latency for common use cases: Asynchronous Command Queue APIs reduce the overhead when running small chained models. See the NDK sample code for examples using these new APIs.
- Foreground service types for camera and microphone – in Android 10 we introduced the manifest attribute foregroundServiceType as a way to help ensure more accountability for specific use-cases. Initially apps could choose from “location” and several others. Now in Android 11 we’re adding two new types – “camera” and “microphone”. If your app wants to access camera or mic data from a foreground service, you need to add the foregroundServiceType value to your manifest.
- Scoped storage updates– We’re continuing to iterate on our work to better protect app and user data on external storage. In this release we’ve made further improvements and changes, such as support to migrate files from the legacy model to the new scoped storage model, and better management of cached files. Read more here and watch for more enhancements in subsequent updates.
- Synchronized IME transitions – A new set of APIs let you synchronize your app’s content with the IME (input method editor, aka soft keyboard) and system bars as they animate on and offscreen, making it much easier to create natural, intuitive and jank-free IME transitions. For frame-perfect transitions, a new insets animation listener notifies apps of per-frame changes to insets while the system bars or the IME animate. Additionally, apps can take control of the IME and system bar transitions through the WindowInsetsAnimationController API. For example, app-driven IME experiences let apps control the IME in response to overscrolling the app UI. Give these new IME transitions a try and let us know what other transitions are important to you.
- Variable refresh rate – Apps and games can now set a preferred frame rate for their windows. Most Android devices refresh the display at 60Hz refresh rate, but some devices support multiple refresh rates, such as 90Hz as well as 60Hz, with runtime switching. On these devices, the system uses the app’s preferred frame rate to choose the best refresh rate for the app. The API is available in both the SDK and NDK. See the details here.
- Resume on reboot – Android 11 improves the experience of scheduled overnight over-the-air software updates. Like in previous versions of Android, the device must still reboot to apply the OTA update, but with resume on reboot, apps are now able to access Credential Encrypted (CE) storage after the OTA reboot, without the user unlocking the device. This means apps can resume normal function and receive messages right away – important since OTA updates can be scheduled overnight while the device might be unattended. Apps can still support Direct Boot to access Device Encrypted (DE) immediately after all types of reboot. Give resume on reboot a try by tapping “Restart after 2AM” with your next Developer Preview OTA update, more details here.
- Camera support in Emulator – The Android emulator now supports front and back emulated camera devices. The back camera supports Camera2 API HW Level 3 (includes YUV reprocessing, RAW capture). It’s a fully CTS-compliant LEVEL_3 device that you can use to test advanced features like ZSL and RAW/DNG support. The front camera supports FULL level with logical camera support (one logical device with two underlying physical devices). This camera emphasizes logical camera support, and the physical camera devices include narrow and wide field of view cameras. With this emulated camera support, you can build and test with any of the camera features added in Android 11. More details coming soon.
Google has also revealed an updated Android 11 timeline which targets Q3 as the final release. The company will be releasing Beta updates for eligible phones in May of 2020. For now, you can download the Android 11 Developer Preview 2 for Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a/3a XL, or Pixel 4/4 XL from Google’s website.