Even though Google released Android 11 in early September, depending on who makes your phone, it could be a while before you’ll see the update and improvements. It’s worth nothing some of the more exciting changes. Or if you’d rather not wait for your older phone to get the latest flavor of Android, Google just announced two new phones — the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5 — and both run Android 11 out of the box. Whether you buy a new Pixel phone, or wait for Android 11 to reach your current device, there’s much to get excited about.
You’ll find subtle tweaks throughout the new operating system that make a big difference in how you’ll use your phone every day. For example, there’s a new Bubbles chat feature that makes it easy to keep messaging from any app. My personal favorite is the new quick controls page for accessing my smart home devices with a swipe and there’s a new screen-recording tool for showing off your favorite gameplay, or to help someone troubleshoot an issue.
These are seven of my favorite Android 11 features and how to use them.
Android 11 Quick Controls are a true highlight
The first thing you should do after installing Android 11 is long-press the power button on your phone to bring up the new quick controls screen. On the Pixel, at least, this screen gives you power control options along the top and provides shortcuts to your Google Pay cards and boarding passes. Then below that you’ll find my favorite feature of Android 11 — quick controls for smart home devices.
My phone automatically picked a few devices I’ve linked to Google Assistant, like the Nest thermostat in my office and my Nest video doorbell. I can even view a livestream from my doorbell directly on this screen without having to open the Nest app, which is slow and a pain to use. It’s great.
You can add or remove smart home devices from this grid by tapping the menu button and selecting add or edit controls…Read more>>