What to expect: What I read is that we’ll see the focus on a bunch of games, meaning we likely won’t find out pricing, and while it would be bold of Sony not to show off the actual console, it might still hold off. Sony hasn’t shared much in advance…
1. Android 11 beta: New goodies
Google officially launched the first Android 11 beta yesterday, finally opening up the latest software for a few billion smartphones beyond developers. Eventually, anyway.
What it means:
- For most people, this is a first chance to see changes coming to the wider Android ecosystem. A bunch of new features are for developers and phone makers, like better 5G support, or Google Play features to help apps find audiences, but there’s plenty of stuff for you and I as well.
- The main changes aren’t sweeping new visuals or adaptations, new changes, which you might’ve expected only a few years ago.
- Now, with Android a more complete and mature operating system, refinement is everything. Google’s task is making your phone do what it does, just better.
- What’s new is focused on conversations and notifications, navigation (including by voice!), multitasking, and privacy/permissions.
What to expect:
- The intrepid explorers of the Android 11 Beta, aka my colleagues, confirm that what we saw in early developer previews is on the money.
- I just want to touch on some of the more obvious ones that you’ll immediately see if you try it out, or it comes to you later in the year.
- Conversations and notifications: Android 11 now prioritizes messaging conversations in notifications. And, gives you more options for setting notifications to priority (letting them even break Do Not Disturb settings), alerting, and silent. Plus, chat bubbles now exist for all apps: floating orbs that offer swift multitasking to open a message window and conversation easily. Think chat heads from Facebook Messenger, but for all apps, if you want them.
- Easier device and media controls: Media player controls now head to the quick settings bar, as you can see above, rather than acting as notifications. Which I like, and about 80% agree with me in this poll so far. Smart home controls are now in the long-press power menu, too. This surprised me and I only have a lamp and Nanoleaf Canvas. Plus, there str shortcuts to an emergency button, and Google Pay.
- Suggested apps row now offers whatever apps Google thinks you want, but I mean, most people have a set of dock apps that exist in expected positions, so I’m not sure about that one.
- Native screen recording, and muting notifications during video are both small, but welcome features, and I like the new one-time permission option for giving an app your location temporarily, not forever. Also, auto-revoke permissions, where Android will automatically revoke permissions such as camera, location, and more, from apps that haven’t been used for a few months or so. This is great.
- There’s more to like, such as an airplane mode that won’t turn off your Bluetooth connection. Which is helpful for when you’re listening to things. A Voice Access accessibility feature looks really useful for helping people, via an ‘on-device visual cortex’.
- Here are all the Android 11 features spotted so far, with that page updated as more tweaks are found. Joe Hindy will have a video out showing all the features too, available momentarily.
- Google is improving Android further, trying to help you navigate chat apps and conversations more quickly and easily, hide chats when you don’t want to be bothered, and pulls back much further on app permissions. (Take that GasBuddy.)
- And then there’s a bunch of refinements, most of which you’ll naturally see and appreciate.
- This isn’t meant to be strictly a positive review. The negatives and faults of Android are waiting for what improvements Google tinkers with to be distributed to your particular phone. Companies like OnePlus are fast to rollout Android updates, Motorola is not.
How to get it:
- Even for newbies, it’s now actually really, really easy to get Android 11 Beta 1 if you have a compatible device. Check you can participate by going to https://www.google.com/android/beta and clicking enroll/opt-in.
- Then, you get an update to your phone without having to USB tether, or flash. Easy!
2. Leak: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 launch might be as soon as July (Android Authority).
3. Sony has explained why it brought back the headphone jack on the Xperia 1 II, basically saying it’s useful. Which doesn’t gel with why it removed the headphone jack, but hey, here we are (Android Authority).
4. Amazon won’t let police use Rekognition, its facial-recognition tech, for one year: the company said it hopes the pause “might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules” for the use of facial-recognition technology (Wired).
5. Intel reveals first 3D Lakefield processors with stacked cores: designed for ultraportable, foldable, and dual-screen devices, taking the fight to ARM and Qualcomm (Engadget).
6. iMac supply running low from Apple as rumors hotly suggest WWDC redesign (9to5Mac).
7. China:Apple pulls podcast apps in China after government pressure (The Verge), while. Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law” (Axios).
8. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will “absolutely” not launch in March, 2021, but may hit 2021. Like Berlin’s airport, it’s only a decade late! (Ars Technica).
9. Blacklist vs Whitelist, Master and Slave: Tech terms face scrutiny amid anti-racism efforts. No one thinks changing the words will bring equality, but change is being felt everywhere (CNET).
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