The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many businesses into disarray, and Google has been particularly hard hit. It had to delay the Pixel 4a launch, and it’s not even certain that phone will come out at all. Google also canceled its I/O conference this year, forcing it to use videos to get the word out to developers about Android 11’s upcoming features. One of those videos seems to have let slip Google’s release plans, too. According to Google itself, Android 11 will launch on September 8th.
The video in question is from the “Hey Google” Smart Home Summit, one of several presentations that have taken the place of in-person events at I/O. In the video, Google’s smart home product manager Michele Turner reminds developers of several things they need to do to make sure their services are ready for the changes coming to Assistant in Android 11.
As Turner talks about App Flip and Deeplinking, she casually noted that Android 11 launches on September 8th. This date is not surprising, but in some ways, that is a surprise in and of itself. The last few versions of Android have launched around the same time. For example, Android 10 was completed on September 3rd. And yet, Google’s operations have been so disrupted that many expected the Android 11 launch to be pushed back considerably.
Android 11 has been available for testing since earlier this year. There were several developer preview builds that you could only install by manually flashing the image. Google even snuck in one more preview than it initially had on the agenda because of COVID delays. We’re now in the beta phase, allowing you to get an OTA update to Android 11 Beta on Google’s Pixel devices.
Android 11 will add more privacy protections, notification history, an improved power menu, media controls in quick settings, and more. The launch could still be pushed back, and it’s possible that the video was recorded before Google made an internal decision to delay the launch. If September 8th comes and goes with no Android 11, most Android users won’t know the difference. Only those using Pixel devices get new versions of Android on launch day. OEMs like OnePlus might get the update ready for recent phones in a month or so, but otherwise you’re going to be waiting for at least three months for flagship phones. Budget phones might never get Android 1, or if they do, it’ll be a year late.
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