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Android 11 released with new messaging, control and privacy features

The latest version of the operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones has been unveiled.

Android stopped using deserts and sweets to identify major new versions when it apparently hit a creative wall at version 9, which was rather lamely codenamed ‘Pie’. The prospect of resorting to Quince Jelly or some such excruciating compromise for Android 10 was clearly to bleak for the Android people, but they must now be regretting missing out on Rice Pudding.

Anyway, the not especially exciting new features are broadly grouped into three categories: managing conversations, managing connected devices and managing privacy. The drag-down notifications feature will now have a special section for active conversations, which is designed to make it easier to manage them if you’re involved in a bunch of them simultaneously.

There’s a new screen recorder function that extends the screen grab facility to video, which could have interesting privacy implications. A long press of the power button also now brings up a control panel for connected devices, which includes connected home and connected car, as the phone increasingly becomes the remote control for everything else.

While other people’s privacy may be threatened by the screen record function, the smartphone user is given more protection through tools that give them more control over the amount of access apps get to the phone’s functions. There is also an enhanced privacy and security auto-update feature through the Play Store.

It looks like this update is being rolled out quicker than usual with Pixel users, as ever, at the head of the cue but, intriguingly, a bunch of Chinese smartphone makers (but not Huawei) also getting it at the same time. You can see a video summary of the new features below. They’re not very exciting, but any time the software on which most of the world depends for its mobile communications gets an update, it’s worth paying attention.


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