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9 hidden gems worth digging up in Android 11

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Android 11’s most important additions may be more about privacy than any front-facing flashiness, but the software sure does have its share of significant surface-level improvements.

I’ve been using the new Android 11 Beta release since it arrived last Wednesday. It’s our first real look at Google’s complete (or at least near-complete) vision for the next Android version, and it has quite a few new small but impactful experience-enhancing elements. Some of ’em fit into the three broad themes I covered in my most recent newsletter, while others are just scattered little treasures strewn throughout the software.

But all of ’em are things you wouldn’t necessarily notice on your own — and, in some cases, wouldn’t even see unless you knew which out-of-the-way switch to flip.

Whether you’re among the adventurous explorers already trying out Android 11 or you’re keeping an analytical eye on it from a distance, these noteworthy new touches are worth considering and/or keeping in mind for the future.

(Of note: I wouldn’t suggest most people install the Android 11 Beta at this point — especially not on a primary phone that’s needed for day-to-day productivity. The software is relatively stable, but it’s still a beta-level release that’s unfinished and not intended for broad, public use, and you will run into occasional glitches and app compatibility issues when using it.)

Android 11 gem #1: Notification History

First up is a feature I’ve been longing to see in Android for ages: a built-in and user friendly Notification History section. What’s present in Android 11 isn’t the full notification inbox concept I’d been envisioning, but hey, baby steps, right?

All quibbling aside, Android 11’s Notification History feature does exactly what you’d expect: It gives you an easy way to look back at notifications you’ve dismissed and even interact with their contents as if they were still present. You can go back as far as 24 hours — but there’s a catch: The feature won’t be present unless you first find and enable it.

To do that, open up the Apps & Notifications section of your system settings, tap the line that says “Notifications,” and then look for the new “Notification history” line at the top of the screen that comes up. Tap that, and you’ll be able to activate a toggle to turn the feature on.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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