Google has released its highly-anticipated Android 11 update, with the major OS upgrade hitting Google’s own Pixel devices as well as a handful of other smartphone models for now. Besides devices such as the Pixel 4, handsets from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and Realme are also able to install Android 11 at launch. As well as the usual bags full of bug fixes, security patches and performance tweaks, the biggest improvements to Android 11 are conversations bubbles as well as built-in screen recording.
But while Android 11 is out on a range of devices right now, there are a number of features reserved only for Pixel smartphones. Most of these Pixel-exclusive features should roll out to Android devices from other manufacturers in time, but on launch day, the most fully-featured version of Android 11 is the one running on Google’s own hardware.
Among the features that Pixel owners are getting first dibs to are Smart Reply, Live View with Location Sharing and app suggestions. Outlining these Pixel exclusive features in a blog post, technical programme manager Matt Meffin said: “A few times a year, your Pixel receives a boost with software updates that send new features, tricks, and apps to your phone.
“And this time, with new Pixel-first features on Android 11, your Pixel has even more smarts to make it better and more helpful—like giving you new ways to control your media and organise your apps, and making it easier to communicate with friends and family. And it all comes with privacy as a priority. Everything happens over the air, so you get that new-phone feeling over and over again.”
Smart Reply – Smart Reply is a Pixel exclusive feature in Android 11 which gives the user helpful suggestions to make typing easier when using a chat app. Google has said this is all processed directly on your phone to protect a user’s privacy. For the time being this is only available in English and requires use of Gboard. Google added that Smart Reply is not available for all chat apps.
App suggestions – With Android 11 a Pixel device will also be able to make app suggestions based on a user’s daily routine. So a Pixel user will be presented with the right app at the right time of each day. Android 11 will recommend apps for different times of the day – such as Messages for daily check-ins, Google Maps for your an afternoon walk or streaming apps in the evening if you want to chill out and watch a movie after a hectic day.
Folder grouping – The Pixel Launcher will make it easier for users to name folders by category and group apps together in Android 11. Apps can be quickly grouped together by theme such as Photography, News, Navigation, Fitness and more.
New overview options – With Android 11 Pixel users will find it easier to screenshot or highlight text for copying or searching. This new feature means “you’ll have more options over how you select and engage with content on your Pixel”.