Google started the Android 11 developer preview program in February, ahead of the usual release schedule to give developers more time to adapt their apps to the new platform behaviors and APIs introduced in the new Android OS version. However, the overall release cycle was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the first Android 11 Beta was intended to be released at the Google I/O developer conference, the cancellation of that event caused Google to release an impromptu Android 11 Developer Preview 4 to make up for the delay. The first Beta went live in June and brought several new changes focusing on the themes of People, Controls, and Privacy. Now, Google is releasing Android 11 Beta 2 for Google Pixel devices.
This is Android 11’s Platform Stability release, which means the Android 11 SDK, NDK APIs, app-facing surfaces, platform behaviors, as well as restrictions on non-SDK interfaces have been finalized. Google shared the list of top resolved and known issues in Beta 2 here. Moving forward, there will be no changes in terms of how Android 11 behaves or how APIs function in the beta that follows. As a result, developers can now start updating their apps to target Android 11 (API level 30) without being concerned about any unexpected change in the future.
As with the Android 11 Developer Preview and Beta 1 builds, Beta 2 is available for installation on the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4 series of devices. Other OEMs may follow with their own releases. You can head over to the Android beta enrollment page and sign up to receive an OTA update for your Google Pixel device or keep an eye out on the equivalent pages for OEMs participating in the Android Beta program.
Changes in Android 11 Beta 2
App compatibility is the key objective of this release. Developers can start testing their apps by running Android 11 on their phone or Android Studio’s emulator to ensure the app runs smoothly and all the features and user flows work as intended. Developers can also integrate support for Bubbles, Conversations in notifications, Device Control, and Media Control in their apps using supported APIs.
Developer option to test and debug apps
Google is also adding some new Developer options to test and debug apps targeting Android 11. This will include new toggles to force-enable or disable changes without any need to change the targetSdkVersion or recompile the app for basic testing.
Updating target Android version
Google will allow developers a year to change the targetSdkVersion for their apps. This means that all new apps uploaded to the Google Play Store starting August 2021 and all updates to existing apps on Google Play starting November 2021 must target Android 11.
Lastly, Google will be hosting an AMA specifically for developers on the Android Developers subreddit (/r/AndroidDev) tomorrow, July 9th, between 12:00 PM PST / 3:00 PM EST and 1:20 PM PST / 4:20 PM EST. Developers from the Android engineering team will be answering questions related to App Compatibility with Android 11 along with some new tools. You can post your questions now on this thread and these will hopefully be addressed within the set time window.
Google is slated to release the Android 11 “Release Candidate” build around the end of August. This will be the last beta before the final Android 11 code is submitted to the AOSP git repository. Google accidentally shared the target stable release date of September 8th.
We do expect most bugs to be ironed out over the next couple of updates, but if you’re a developer, you can add your feedback here for Google to address the issues.