Photo by Avery White for The Verge
Android 11’s first public beta has arrived today, and it brings a bunch of big new features to Google’s operating system — including a few that should look pretty familiar to iOS users who have had similar functionality for some time.
It’s the eternal cycle of software platforms: Apple’s good ideas will almost always end up on Android at some point, even as the next version of iOS will, no doubt, crib some ideas from Android.
OS-level smart home control
One of the most noticeable new changes in Android 11 is the availability of smart home controls on an OS-level at any time through Google’s new long-press power button menu. Much like on iOS (which added HomeKit device control to Apple’s Control Center menu in iOS 10), you’ll be able to easily control your Google Home-connected smart devices from anywhere in Android.
Introduced through Apple in last year’s iOS 13, Android 11 is also getting the option to approve permissions for things like location or camera access on a case-by-case basis. So instead of granting long-term sweeping permissions, Android 11 will let you give access to the protected resource just that one time. Google’s version takes things a step further, though: if you do grant extended permissions but haven’t used the app in a while, Android 11 will reset all of those granted permissions.
Easy media switching controls
In a similar vein, Google is also making it easier to switch between media hardware (like Google Home speakers or Bluetooth devices) via Android 11’s drop-down notification menu. Think of it like the AirPlay icon in iOS’s Control Center but for Google speakers.
Android 11 brings a slightly tweaked screenshot interface, which is similar to the revamped UI introduced in iOS 11. Taking a screenshot will now cause a preview of it to appear in the bottom corner of the screen, which you can then tap on to switch to an editing tool to annotate and share your image. (Previously, screenshots and their edit options were tossed into the notification tray.)
Native screen recording (maybe)
This is less an “iOS had it first” than “a lot of companies, including other Android developers, had it first,” but native screen recording has been long overdue for Google’s Android OS. The current implementation in Android 11’s beta is pretty similar to iOS, where the feature is accessed through the Quick Settings menu (Android’s version of Control Center). I’m leaving this as a maybe, though, since Google has featured screen recording in betas before, only to cut the feature before launch. Will Android 11 be the time that it finally makes it to a public release? We’ll have to wait and see.