Facebook Messenger’s chat heads switch to Android 11’s bubble notifications API
Google introduced the new Bubbles API with Android 10 Beta 2 back in April last year. The API was initially offered as an opt-in feature for developers, with Google urging them to test the API in their apps so that the supported apps were ready when the feature finally rolled out in a future Android release. As expected, the feature was enabled by default in the Android 11 Developer Preview 1 that was released earlier this year. In the leaked Android 11 Beta, the Bubbles feature is now available in Notification settings (and not in Developer Options), however, developers still have to enable support for showing notifications in a Bubble. Up until now, we’ve only seen the feature in action in an APK teardown of the Google Messages app. But the latest update for Facebook Messenger also switches the app over the Bubbles API.
For the unaware, Facebook Messenger has long had a feature for floating notification bubbles called “Chat Heads”. The feature made use of Android’s System Alert Window API, but in Facebook Messenger version 2220.127.116.11.118 the app is switching over to the new Bubbles API if the device is running Android 11. This feature works on our tipster’s Pixel 4XL running Android 11 Beta 1 and our Editor-in-Chief Mishaal Rahman‘s Pixel 3a XL, running Android 11 DP4.
As you can see in the attached screenshots, the feature shows up as a new option called Bubbles in the Facebook Messenger settings. Once enabled, it gives you the option to choose if you wish to see Bubbles for all conversations, selected conversations, or no conversations from within the Messenger notification settings. While the feature is making use of the newer API, it still looks pretty much the same as the older Messenger Chat Heads. Whenever you receive a new message, it shows up as a chat bubble clinging to a side on your device’s home screen. Tapping on the bubble opens up the conversation in a floating window where you can quickly reply to messages.
You can move the bubble from one side to the other by tapping and holding the bubble and then dragging it to the other side. You also get the option to have multiple conversations in a single bubble by tapping on the plus icon at the top and adding a new contact. To dismiss a bubble, you can tap and hold on it and then drag it to the X icon that appears close to the bottom of the display.
Thanks to Hani Mohamed Bioud for the tip and screenshots!