Android 11 from Google introduces new privacy control features

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BBC


Posted in: Wednesday 9 September 2020 – 7:51 AM | Last update: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 8:34 am

New privacy controls and a screen recording tool are among the features that have been added to Android phones in the latest major update to Google’s mobile operating system.

Android 11 also makes it easy to track chat messages across multiple apps, and to control smart home gadgets.

Google has made efforts to encourage third-party device manufacturers to roll out updates to its system more quickly than it has been before.

But some brands are lagging behind others.

The tech giant said that in addition to its Pixel affiliate, the following companies will be the first to offer downloads of Android 11:

OnePlus
Xiaomi
Oppo
Realme
Nokia will be one of the first smartphone companies to use the update, while Samsung, Huawei and LG will take a little longer to adapt new features to their user interfaces.

An expert said Google’s separation of app and security updates from its major system releases means that lag is now a lesser issue than it used to be.

“There are a lot of features that are cascading down to Android phones throughout the year through app updates, which happen independently of manufacturers,” said Chris Hall of the technical review site Pocket-lint.

“This contrasts with Apple’s iOS, where iPhone users wait for new updates to come out all at once.”

Hall said some privacy changes may have come in due course.

They include:

The ability to give apps the ability to single-use – rather than permanent – access to device mics, cameras, and location.
Restricting apps to launching the phone’s built-in camera app instead of an alternate third-party app. This was done to fill a loophole that allowed some developers to collect location data without the user saying it.
“Usually people give an ear without realizing it when they just click an option to accept all the features, letting the app do what it wants,” Hall said.

“So giving permission one time is actually very important, especially after accessing some high profile instances of microphones and cameras without users realizing what’s going on.”

Connected cars

Many of the other changes in Android 11 focus on trying to simplify smartphone use.

The smart devices feature, for example, allows users to summon the controls for all their connected devices in one place by holding down the power button.

Another tool is designed to help users manage various messaging applications, such as Facebook Messenger, Android Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Posts received across all of these platforms are now grouped together in a new “Conversations” section of the notification screen that appears when you swipe down from the top of the phone screen.

This separates them from other types of alerts, helping users avoid losing an important message.

Users can also prioritize certain conversations over others, so that they appear at the top of the screen and they can still appear when the device is in Do Not Disturb if they wish.

Additionally, new chat bubbles can be set to appear on top of other apps, allowing users to quickly respond to friends’ inquiries via a floating panel. This avoids them having to switch outside of the app they were using at the time in order to respond.

Devices are also gaining the ability to record screen without having to install a dedicated app, which mirrors a feature already available on iOS. This can be useful for capturing game screenshots or recording a video chat.

The update should also allow all smartphones that operate it to connect via wi-fi to Android Auto’s in-car entertainment systems.

So far, only Pixel and Samsung phones can do this, which means that users of other brands have had to resort to a USB cable if they want to play music online, read chat messages aloud via car speakers or get real-time alerts. On their navigation screen.







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