What’s new in Android 11 Beta 3: New Easter egg, emojis, and media player behavior
On Thursday, Google released the last Android 11 beta build before the rumored stable release next month. Whereas last month’s Android 11 Beta 2 release brought the final SDK, NDK, app-facing surfaces, platform behaviors, and restrictions on non-SDK interfaces, Android 11 Beta 3 simply includes bug fixes in preparation for the stable update. Google did sneak in one change to Android 11 in Beta 3, though: Users no longer need to turn on location services in order for apps using the Exposure Notifications System (ENS) to work. As usual, though, there are a few unannounced changes in the release that we discovered after installing the update on a Pixel device. Beta 3 doesn’t have nearly as many changes as earlier betas, but regardless, here’s what we found.
Android 11 Beta 3 – New User-Facing Changes
The Android 11 Easter egg is here
Every new Android version comes with a new Easter egg, and Android 11’s is now accessible in Beta 3. To access it, go to Settings > System > About phone > Android version and repeatedly tap on the “Android version” field. After a few taps, you’ll see a green circle in the middle with one smaller white circle inside of it and several smaller white (or black if your system theme is the light theme) circles surrounding it. This is actually a dial that you need to turn clockwise 3 times until you see the Android 11 logo appear as well as a toast message with a cat emoji. (You’re “turning it up to 11” in case you don’t get it.)
Once you do this, you’ll have access to a new minigame involving Android 11’s smart home power menu feature called Device Controls. You can get started with this by opening the power menu (with a long-press of the power button) and then tapping on the three-dot menu to “add controls.” At the bottom left, tap on “see other apps” to find “Cat Controls.”
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 6, 2020
Yes, the cat game from Android Nougat is back.
If you love silly little games like this (or just love cats), then I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this. Play around with this enough and you’ll even come across another cat-related Easter egg in Android 11’s new Conversation section in notifications. This one is a notification that can be opened up in a Bubble like a conversation from a messaging app.
Credits: @anoop_v1 on Telegram
New “Media” setting, Swipe Away Media Player Notifications
Android 11 separates media playback notifications from other notifications, placing them instead in a dedicated section underneath the Quick Settings. This feature can also store up to 5 previous media sessions if supported by the app.
Android 11 Beta 2 automatically placed all media playback notifications in the dedicated space below Quick Settings with no way for users to revert back to the old behavior. While Android 11 Beta 3 still doesn’t allow you to put media playback notifications where they used to be, it does introduce a new toggle in Settings > Sound > Media called “hide player when the media session has ended.” Enabling this toggle will hide media controls when the active media session has ended. This is for those of you who don’t want to see media controls from apps that haven’t been playing anything recently.
Another minor change in Android 11 Beta 3 is the ability to hide media playback controls from the unexpanded Quick Settings panel. Here are screenshots showing the Quick Settings UI before and after swiping away the media player:
New Emojis are here
The Unicode Consortium announced Unicode 13 earlier this year, and all the new emojis have made their way into Android 11. You can flash a Magisk Module to install them on any rooted Android device or you can see them (kind of) with an input method like Gboard, but you won’t need to do either in Android 11 Beta 3 since the emoji styles are baked into the system font file. Here’s a screenshot showing the new emoji designs in SwiftKey:
A slight tweak to the power menu
Since Android 11’s new power menu packs so many buttons, including the standard row of power menu controls, contactless payment methods via the Quick Access Wallet API, and smart home controls via the Device Controls API, Google had to combine the power off and reboot buttons into a single “power” button. Tapping “power” shows the standard power off and reboot options with a new design in Android 11 Beta 3.
Forced 90Hz option is back on the Pixel 4
Android 11 Beta 2 introduced a screen flickering issue at low brightness levels on the Pixel 4 which happened because the device was frequently switching between the 60Hz and 90Hz display modes which have different gamma calibrations. Some users tried to fix this issue by manually forcing the phone to always stay at its 90Hz display mode, but Google threw a wrench in their plans by removing the force 90Hz toggle in the Developer Options of Android 11 Beta 2. Thankfully, a similar toggle has now returned in the Developer Options of Android 11 Beta 3, as spotted by Redditor /u/amenotef.
That’s about it for semi-noteworthy changes in Android 11 Beta 3. Google is now focused on fixing bugs and improving the stability of Android 11 for the rumored stable release on September 8th. We’ll continue to dig into the latest Android 11 release to see if we can find more details on unannounced and in-development features, of course.