Android 11 Beta 3 is here, removing the location requirement for COVID-19 contact tracing apps
Google released Android 11 Beta 2 last month, pushing the new update for the Android OS to “platform stability” status. This was followed by the Beta 2.5 release, which is more of a bug-fix release instead of a proper increment. Between each release, there are a lot of announced and unannounced changes to spot, just as we found for Beta 1 and Beta 2. While we rub our hands in anticipation of the stable release that is expected around September 8, Google has now released Android 11 Beta 3, the final scheduled beta before the official stable release.
Android 11 Beta 2 represented the Platform Stability milestone, which meant that all app-facing behaviors are final as they exist in the release. Android 11 Beta 3 hence focuses on helping developers put their finishing touches in their apps as they prepare for Android 11. This includes targeting the official API 30 SDK and building with the new tools and updates available through Android Studio. This Beta 3 build thus represents what you can expect with the first official Android 11 stable update, minus any major bugs that may be spotted and fixed in the time gap.
If you are an Android app developer, now is a good time to finish your compatibility testing and publish your updates soon. For SDKs, libraries, tools, and game engine developers, it’s even more important to release a compatible version as the changes you hold onto will delay other developers that rely on your work.
This release is not expected to have any major unannounced changes, but we will still be on the lookout for them.
As for announced changes, Android 11 Beta 3 includes an update for Exposure Notifications System (ENS), Google and Apple’s COVID-19 contact tracing API. Now, users can run apps using ENS without needing to turn on device location settings on Android 11. Google says that this exception is being made for apps utilizing the Exposure Notification System only, given that it has been designed in such a way that the COVID-19 tracing apps using it can’t infer device location through Bluetooth scanning. This should address some of the privacy concerns that users and developers had within the context of these apps. While we do appreciate the change, we do need to look at how many users will be getting access to Android 11 within the next few months as opposed to the total number of Android users. Note that to protect user privacy, all other apps will still be prohibited from performing Bluetooth scanning unless the device location setting is on and the user has granted them the location permission.
Download Android 11 Beta 3 for Google Pixel devices
The Android 11 Beta 3 update should be arriving through an OTA update to your supported Google Pixel device if you had enrolled in the Beta program. But in case it hasn’t, you can download Android 11 Beta 1 for supported Google Pixel devices from the following links: