Android 11 is just around the corner. With Google I/O already getting teased for May 12-14, we now know for sure that Android 11 will be unveiled at the dev-centric event, but it's more probable that Google would actually release it ahead of the summit. Hey, at least that's what happened in the past few years, so don't blame us for believing Google will reiterate this tradition in 2020 as well.
But what features might make the cut in Android 11? As usual with upcoming software releases, it's significantly harder to come across rumors that are as intriguing and as prolific as rumors pertaining to flagship smartphones. Still, there seems to be some buzz surrounding the next major Android update, and paired with some guesstimation on our part, we can paint a very believable picture of what Android 11 could be.
First order of business - the name
As you most certainly know by now, Android dropped the sweet dessert names last year, when what was supposed to be Android Q launched as Android 10. An era ended, but for all the right reasons, as few desserts utilize the back rows of the alphabet. A welcome change that made things simpler — instead of wondering what the name of Android R will end up being, we are now fully focused on the features that Android 11 will bring to your phone. See, that was way easier.
Android's take on AirDrop - Nearby Sharing
Android is a fairly open operating system that allows users to directly send files from one device to another in a variety of ways, namely Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct, but so far, there hasn't been a unified standard that could rival Apple's AirDrop in terms of usability and ease of use. Rumors have been floating around that Samsung is working on a so-called Quick Share feature to rival Apple's AirDrop, and it seems that Google is doing the same thing in Android 11. Hands-on videos of the feature are already circulating, and so far it seems to work quite similarly to AirDrop: selecting files in your Files app and tapping the share button, then selecting Nearby Sharing opens an interface similar to AirDrop. Reportedly, the feature won't be a Pixel
-exclusive and could potentially be available on the vast multitude of Android devices with Google Play Services on board (sorry, Huawei!). Of course, Nearby Sharing isn't a terribly original feature, but it would be a mighty useful one.
Here's how Nearby Sharing works in real life:
No more 4GB limit for video-recording
It would seem that Google could finally be removing the 4GB file size limit for video recordings. A recent commit
to the AOSP source project reveals that Google will use a 64-bit offset with mpeg4writer, which will allow Android to compose video files larger than 4GB. It's a long time coming since 4K video recording is a thing and it's pretty taxing on storage. Additionally, tests conducted by Google revealed that a device was able to record and play a 32GB with this change in effect with zero problems, and one test even revealed that the device could easily fill its full storage with video, which was subsequently played without any hassle. With the advent of devices capable of 8K video, this change will be more than welcome. Android 11 would be the perfect propagator for this new feature.
Airplane mode might no longer affect Bluetooth headphones
Airplane mode has been disabling cellular data, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and other location-based services for as long as phones have been allowed on airplanes, but aviation transport has been evolving. The FAA, for example, now allows people
to continue using Wi-Fi if the airplane has an installed Wi-Fi system or Bluetooth when used with other short-range Bluetooth accessories. This allows you to continue using your Bluetooth headphones or airbuds even when the plane is taking off or landing, but the hassle of having to reconnect your devices via Bluetooth when you hit that airplane mode toggle is one of life's mildly infuriating grievances. No more with Android 11, though, as a recent commit to the AOSP source code suggest that the OS won't turn Bluetooth off when you hit the airplane mode toggle if you're actively listening to music or have other short-range Bluetooth devices connected to your phone.
Android 11 release date
Ever since 2016, Android has been officially released in the August-September period. There's no reason to believe that Android 11 won't be released in the same time window later this year. Of course, Pixels will get it first, with all other Android devices afterwards.
But does this mean we will only get our first glimpse of Android 11 in August? Not at all! In fact, for the past few years, beta versions of Android have arrived in early spring, often surprisingly and without any hint or announcement on Google's end. Supposedly, this would happen in 2020 as well, and while we don't really know if we should expect it in February, or March, or April, we are fairly certain that the first beta will arrive way ahead of the Google I/O 2020 dev summit between May 12 and May 14.