Android 11 beta: Here's how to install it and play with these cool features

It's the first time the general public can play with the new Android 11 experience

Android 11
(Image credit: Google)

Android users rejoice, the Android 11 beta is now available to download for everyone, and will provide an early look at some of the killer features that will be coming to Google's mobile OS later this year.

Before this, the only Android 11 information we had was from the develop previews, with the first launching in February this year.

This new glimpse will be appreciated for many: Google cancelled Google IO 2020 back in May because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Android 11 beta event, planned as an online-only affair on June 3, was postponed due to the Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

As a result, the Android 11 beta has come into the world not with a bang but with a whisper. The Android team has published a blog post talking about what you're getting, and you can enrol here if your device is eligible. The beta is only available for owners of the Pixel 2 or newer, the first time that Pixel and Pixel XL owners have been left out. Understandable when you consider the age of the devices and the fact that the Pixel and Pixel XL only got Android 10 compatibility by popular demand.

So, what's under the hood? Android 11 has reworked notifications, highlighting messaging chats so that they won't get drowned out by notifications from other apps. These will be moved into a conversations section that will let you pull chats out into a 'bubble' or even just set a reminder to remind you to come back to it when you have more time.

If your house, like mine, is filled with smart home devices, Android 11 is going to give you some love too. Everything is getting centralised in a Device Controls hub, which can be accessed quickly with a long press on the power button.

Then there are the nitty-gritty bits. Android 11 will reset the permissions of an app that users haven't used in a while, and while you fire it up next, they'll ask you to reauthorise the app before it gets access. Keyboard suggestions are going to be smarter, especially with regards to Autofill, and voice control accessibility will be beefed up too.

For now, that's it. However, there are some broad changes in here, and it's likely we'll see a few more big moves before the full release later in the year.