Android 11 is officially rolling out today after months of betas, first to Pixel phones and devices from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and realme before a wider launch. How long you’re going to have to wait will depend on which manufacturer made your handset.
If you’re able to upgrade, here are 15 new tricks you can try that aren’t available on devices still running Android 10 or older.
1. Check your notification history
Dismissed or snoozed a notification you want to get back to? No problem with the new Notification history screen in Android 11, which you can get to from Apps and notifications and Notifications in Settings — there is the option to enable or disable the feature as you prefer. You should also see a History link in the notification shade.
2. Keep track of conversations
Speaking of notifications, Android 11 now groups messaging alerts together, depending on which app they came in through, so you can see at a glance how many messages you’ve got from WhatsApp and how many from Hangouts, for example. To manage some of the settings for the feature, go to Settings then Apps and notifications and Conversations.
3. Record the screen
There is at last a native screen recorder in Android 11, though it’s not quite as fully featured as some of the third-party alternatives. To access it, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to bring up Quick Settings, then tap the pen icon (lower left) to see all the available tiles. Drag the Screen record button to the top pane to make use of it.
4. Turn on suggested apps
Google wants to suggest apps for you in Android 11. This feature is based on the apps you’ve been using most often, and it’s similar to the row that already appears in the app drawer, only now it’s available on the home screen as well. If you want to try it out, long press on a blank part of the home screen and choose Home settings then Suggestions to turn it on.
5. Add more controls to the power menu
The menu that appears when you long press the power button gets tweaked in Android 11. The update adds links to smart home devices connected to the Google Home app, as well as your Google Pay cards (which also show up in Android 10). Tap the three dots button on the menu itself, or System, Gestures, Power menu from Android Settings to customise it.
6. Take more control over Do Not Disturb
Open Sound then Do Not Disturb from Settings in Android 11 and you’ll see everything has been moved around and the options have changed slightly. You can take more control over specific conversations as well as specific contacts that can interrupt the Do Not Disturb mode, even if the app itself hasn’t already been excluded from being muted.
7. Approve permissions on a single, temporary basis
Android 11 follows iOS by letting you grant permissions to an app just once, joining the usual slew of options on the permission request screen. You could grant access to the camera for an app for one time only (pick Only this time) for example, and then have it ask again in future. You can manage permissions from Apps and notifications in Settings.
8. Control media playback from Quick Settings
Media player controls appear in the Quick Settings panel by default, so you can quickly take control of your playlists and even switch the audio to a different connected device (like a Bluetooth speaker) by dragging two fingers down from the top of the screen. A mini player still appears on the lock screen as normal, so you can control media there, too.
9. Enjoy some new emojis
As usual with a new Android release, Android 11 brings with it support for a host of new emojis, while some existing symbols get a redesign. Some of the new emojis include a black cat, a smiley face with a tear, a disguised face (with glasses and a mustache), a seal, a feather, a boomerang, pinched fingers, a pickup truck, people hugging, and plenty more.
10. Access extra dark theme options
Dark mode (or dark theme as Android calls it) gets a small tweak in Android 11. In addition to being able to turn it on and off manually, or to match your local sunrise and sunset times — which Android 10 can now do, too — you can also set custom times of the day and night for it to be automatically enabled and disabled, via Display, Dark theme and Schedule in Settings.
11. Resize picture-in-picture windows
If you often make use of the picture-in-picture windows on Android, then you’ll be interested to know that Android 11 lets you resize these overlays. Just tap and drag on any of the four corners of the video window to make it larger or smaller. You can still tap and drag in the middle of the overlay to position it anywhere you like on the display.
12. Take screenshots from the Overview screen
The Overview screen — the gallery of recently used apps that appears when you drag up from the bottom of the screen and hold — has a couple of new options in Android 11. You can tap Screenshot to capture a screenshot of one of the apps, or Select to select text inside an app (text selection is actually possible in Android 10, but now it’s much easier).
13. Prioritise conversations
Here’s another Android 11 trick for managing your various chat conversations more easily: You can prioritise them by long pressing the relevant notification in the notification shade, then choosing Priority from the menu that appears. This pins it to the top of the notification list, and you can set these conversations to ignore Do Not Disturb mode.
14. Pin items to the Share Sheet
The Share Sheet in Android can be a bit of an unwieldy mess, but Android 11 can give you just a little bit more help in keeping it organised after you hit the share button in any app. You can now pin your favourite apps so they appear earlier in the list when you try and share something — long press any app in the panel then choose the Pin option to do this.
15. Access a cat mini-game
A new Android release wouldn’t be the same without a mini-game. From Settings, choose About phone, then Android version, then repeatedly tap Android version — when you see the dial, turn it up to 11. This unlocks a little cat game: Long press the power button then hit the three dots, Add controls and See other apps to find it and try and attract the cat.