Google on Wednesday released an early build of Android 11 to developers, about a month earlier than previous releases. The developer preview will work with several Pixel phones and is only available as a download that developers will have to manually flash. A public beta is expected to open in May, likely around the same time as Google’s developer conference, Google I/O.

Google has moved away from using letters and dessert names for Android updates and is instead using numbers — thus Android 11.

Google strongly cautions that regular users, consumers, and even developers should not use the first developer preview on their main phone.

The first developer preview is available for the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4 XL. To install the preview, you’ll need to download the factory image for your device and manually install it. If you decide to try the preview and want to go back to Android 10, you’ll have to factory reset your device in the process.

Android 11 includes new APIs for 5G connectivity and improvements for enterprise users who use Android’s Work Profile. Messaging also will get a makeover in Android 11, with a new approach to conversations that allow for richer messages, and grants wider access to Android 10’s Bubbles feature.

Google also shared the schedule it expects to use to release Android 11 preview updates. We’ll continue to see developer preview released through April, with the first wider-release beta (likely the public beta with support from hardware partners) in May. Google will continue to update the beta through the third quarter, when the company expects to release the final, official Android 11 build.

As developers begin to install Android 11 and test their apps, we’ll surely discover more features. However, we’ll likely have to wait until Google I/O in May before we learn the full scope of what Google is adding to and improving in Android 11.

[Read More…]