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Google rolled out the first preview of Android 11 today. The preview is meant for developers who can test their apps earlier on the new Android version. This way they can guarantee compatibility with the new version for users.

There is a strong emphasis on privacy and security in the new version. For example, Project Mainline’s update mechanism has been expanded to 22 modules instead of 10. Furthermore, users can now download a fixed download for security holes from the Play Store instead of waiting for the automatic patch of their smartphone.

There is also a permission model that allows users to give an app temporary access to sensitive information, such as the location of a device. When the application is then closed, that access is revoked. From Google‘s point of view, this should probably result in fewer problems with unconscious tracking of users.

“For the most sensitive types of data – not only location but also microphone and camera – users can now grant temporary access through a one-time permission,” says Dave Burke, Vice President of Engineering at Android .

There are also enhancements to scoped storage, and support for virtual identity documents. Scoped storage is a way to give applications only access to data they really need. Virtual documents are, for example, digital driving licenses, which are used in certain states of the US.

Further updates

In addition to privacy updates, there is now support for the STIR/SHAKEN framework against robocalls. A number of network management tools for 5G smartphones and machine learning optimisations have also been added.

As far as the front-end is concerned, users can expect some interface changes in Android 11. There will be new screensavers tuned to the so-called pinhole and waterfall displays found on some phones, plus an extra section in the notification panel for finding calls in messaging apps.