[Update: Merged] Airplane Mode may finally stop shutting down Bluetooth audio, starting with Android 11 R
Airplane mode is a feature that has been around in phones for a very long time. The name comes from the idea that the radios in phones can interfere with airplanes, so this allows you to turn them off without powering down the phone completely. Airplane mode has other uses, of course, but it’s not a terribly nuanced tool: one tap kills all radios. However, in Android 11 R, it may get a little smarter.
This blanket approach can be annoying if you want to quickly disable cellular and Wi-Fi, but you’re listening to music over Bluetooth. If you’re familiar with ADB, there’s already a method for customizing which radios are turned off with airplane mode. Of course, that’s not a consumer-facing feature and not something most people will bother with. A new commit in the AOSP Gerrit is titled “Context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode” and it sounds like a much-requested feature.
Do not automatically turn off Bluetooth when airplane mode is turned on and Bluetooth is in one of the following situations:
- Bluetooth A2DP is connected.
- Bluetooth Hearing Aid profile is connected.
Android will be smart enough to realize that if you’re currently using Bluetooth you probably don’t want to disable it when toggling airplane mode on. “A2DP” is the profile used for most Bluetooth earbuds and headsets for media streaming. The commit has not been merged yet, but we can expect to see it in Android 11 R, the next major version of the OS. This is a small thing but it can make a big difference if you use airplane mode and Bluetooth a lot.
Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer luca020400 for the tip!
After the commit was posted last month, it looks like context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode is moving forward. The commit was merged, meaning we will see this feature in Android 11. This will allow airplane mode to understand the context of Bluetooth and not turn it off when in use.