Since its debut in 2008, the Android operating system has been through numerous growing pains.
Place an operating system running Android 1.0 in front of a modern smartphone user, and they might react with incredulity at the original platform’s basic design and functionality.
We’re now onto the 17th official version of Android, confusingly titled Android 11.
This is because some historic Android versions were treated as updates rather than standalone platforms.
Version 4 had three different flavours – 2011’s Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), 2012’s Jelly Bean (4.1) and 2013’s KitKat (4.4).
While Jelly Bean was focused on delivering behind-the-scenes upgrades and smoother performance, KitKat had a new runtime environment and greater adoption of Google services.
The latest version of Android is more evolution than revolution, introducing features like the ability to view old notifications even if they’ve been deleted or ignored.
There are minor tweaks to the way apps respond to 5G connectivity, and superior integration with hinged devices to ensure apps work smoothly even when a phone isn’t fully folded out.
Below are eleven other key features found in Android 11:
1. Screen recording. The ability to record screen activity is useful for diagnosing technical faults and recording phone audio output for future reference.
2. Split notifications. Notifications are divided into two types – social media updates and traditional news/app updates, for at-a-glance clarity.
3. Adjustable picture-in-picture mode. The secondary window displaying on top of primary content can be resized, tailoring PIP to individual users’ preferences.
4. Auto-complete. Chrome users will be familiar with the way forms can be auto-filled with address or personal data, and Android now offers this functionality too.
5. Offline hands-free access. Previous Android versions needed to be online to support hands-free usage, but 11 can do this while in a basement or up a Munro.
6. Intelligent app organisation. Regular apps will appear on your Home screen for ease of access, while Android can group similar types of app into special folders.
7. Superior privacy settings. It’s no longer necessary to give an app permanent access to cameras or microphones – you can grant access on a one-off basis.
8. Smart home integration. The growth of wireless gadgets means Android 11 can link to connected devices around the home, from IoT hardware to Bluetooth devices.
9. Wireless document sharing. Instead of having to email files to wireless devices, Chrome supports one-tap data sharing with nearby computers or tablets.
10. Wireless Android Auto. Older versions of Android required a physical connection to a car before Android Auto would activate, but 11 finally works without cables.
11. Bedtime mode. Our increasing obsession with smartphones has led to a dedicated night-time mode that turns the screen monochrome and blocks notification alerts.