Android 11 is coming later this year, and it brings a bunch of new features for smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

But it looks like there’s a good chance that not every device running Android 11 will have all of those new features. The folks at xda-developers report that a couple of big features are going to be optional, which means device makers may decide to leave them out.

Long story short, here are three new features that may not end up on every device running Android 11:

  • Conversations in Notification tray – Some phone makers may decide to customize notifications in a way that doesn’t include Google’s new grouped-by-conversation section.
  • Device Controls – Long-press the power button on supported devices and you get quick controls for smart home gadgets like lights, speakers, or cameras. But some phone makers may decide to skip this.
  • IdentityCredential API – Also optional is this new feature that allows you to store driver’s license data or other identification documents securely on your phone.

Here’s how we know these features are optional.

Google releases each new version of Android as open source software — which means device makers can use the core operating system any way they like. That’s why Amazon was able to use a heavily modified version of Android to build the Fire OS software that powers its Fire tablets and Fire TV media streaming devices.

But some components of the operating system, including the Google Play Store and Google Play are not freely available for anyone to use. In order to legally include the Google Play Store, Google Play Services, and key apps such as Gmail, Chrome, and Google Maps, device makers need to follow the rules in Google’s Android Compatibility Program.

When perusing a pre-release copy of the Android 11 Compatibility Definition Document, xda-developers discovered that none of the features listed above are must-have items for compatibility.

While that doesn’t mean phone makers will decide to skip them. But they won’t be penalized if they decide to leave out any of the features and/or replace them with their own custom versions.

There’s a chance that Google’s requirements could change by the time Android 11 is released to the public though. Right now the software is still in beta and the first stable release is scheduled for sometime this fall (in the third quarter of 2020).

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2 replies on “Google makes some Android 11 features optional (not every phone will have them)”

  1. It’s mostly good.
    Though I think grouping Notifications is a neat feature (iPhone was horrendous a few years ago), so not happy that is “optional”. But what I really loathe is the Chat Bubbles, it’s too annoying and cumbersome. I get it a few people like them, and so that is what should be optional.

    That power button options screen?
    Yeah, kinda hate it. I prefer the light/minimal overlay of the options for Shut Down/Reset/Screenshot that we’ve had for many years now.

    And keeping your Driver’s License or Social Security is a bad idea, at least on Android. As much as people hate and complain, I still commend Apple for having a very secure ecosystem. So having this feature as optional is a good choice in my books.

    Although what I really want to see from Alphabet/Google is for a soft-reset on Android. Each time it gets more confusing and bloated. They need to take a step back, like Apple did with iOS 11, and do a major update which does not introduce any new features or UI changes. All it does is to increase performance, whilst using less energy, and becoming more responsive. That’s a big ask from Google, so I won’t hold my breath.

    The only thing I can realistically expect is for a new major User Experience upgrade. We need a new ground-up thinking about phones with proper Gesture Navigation, long-aspect ratios, and hopefully the elimination of Notch/Holes.
    Previous leaps in UX such as when we went from Android 1.6 (qwerty) to Android 2.3 (slab), or from Android 2.3 (feature-phone) to Android 4.0 (smartphone), or when we went from Android 4.0 (Flat UI) to Android 5.1 (Card UI).

  2. “not every phone will get them”

    Not every phone runs Android and each manufacturer can alter the OS anyway

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