The next version of Android is due out this fall, but you can take the latest developer preview build for a spin starting today — assuming you have a Google Pixel 2 or later smartphone or don’t mind using an emulator.
Android 11 Developer Preview 2 is really designed for developers who want to make sure their apps are compatible with the upcoming Android release. It’s not aimed at end users. But Google says an open beta will be coming “in the next several weeks” for non-developers that want an early taste of Android 11.
The new release comes almost a month after the first developer preview, and it brings improvements designed foldables and 5G smartphones as well as new and improved features for privacy, security, and more.
Here are some of the highlights of Android 11 DP2:
- Smoother scrolling – Synchronized IME transitions let apps scroll more smoothly when a text input box and the keyboard are visible.
- Variable Refresh Rate – Apps and games can set preferred frame rates for devices that have 90Hz or higher screens.
- Resume on reboot – After a phone installs an OTA update and reboots, some apps will be able to relaunch even before you first unlock your device, resulting in a smoother unattended reboot experience.
- Foldables – There’s support for detecting screen angles via a hinge angle sensor.
- 5G – A new 5G state API can find out if a user is connected to a 5G New Radio or Non-Standalone network.
- Call Screening – New APIs allow users to report a reason for rejecting a call, and allow apps to display a post call screen so users can add a call to their contacts or market it as spam.
- Privacy – Apps that want to use a device’s mic or camera need to use the foregroundServiceType API.
- Themes – The Pixel wallpaper picker has been tweaked, and it looks like you’ll be able to further customize your lock screen soon.
- Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 includes a “requires eyes to be open” toggle.
- Screen recorder is now built into the operating system (on Pixel phones at least), and the initial user interface makes an appearance in Android 11 DP2.
- Notifications are separated to make it easier to tell where one ends an the next begins.
- Wireless ADB (Android Debug Bridge) is fully supported.
Also updates to scoped storage, new neural networking features, and the Android emulator now supports virtual front and back cameras. Various Android 11 DP1 bugs were also fixed in this release, including a rather serious one that could cause a phone to crash and reboot after finishing a phone call.
Developers (and others) can find Android 11 DP2 system images for Pixel 2, 3, and 4 series phones at the Android developer website.
Note that Google says this release “may have various stability, battery, or performance issues,” and that Android 11 DP2 may not be appropriate for users with accessibility needs.