Android 11 Beta 3 hands-on: Top new features [Video]

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The final addition to the testing phase of Android 11 has dropped with Beta 3. As the last in the trio — not including the 1.5 and 2.5 updates — don’t go in expecting huge wholesale changes. We’re on countdown now until the full OS release in early September 2020 but even so, we’ve still done plenty of digging since the preview dropped to find out just what new features you might be interested in.

As we have mentioned previously, unlike the quartet of Developer Previews that we have delved into extensively already —and very much the Beta 1 and Beta 2 updates — this is a proper user-facing build that includes all of the good bits of the previous previews — plus little refinements here and there to clean up the entire experience.

There is no denying that the Pixel Feature Drops have really lessened the need to dive in head-first to the Android 11 Developer or Beta phase this year. Beta 3 is simply finalization of the OS ahead of the full release — essentially tying up any loose ends before we get a stable build in early September.

Because this is the third and (likely) final Android 11 Beta, we should see yet more Android OEMs slowly start to update their own builds of the Android 11 Beta as we careen towards the official release of the next OS. We’re sorry to disappoint but at this late stage, if it hasn’t already been added, it’s likely not coming to Android 11 wholesale.

As with all previous beta builds, because of the minor schism between Pixel hardware, it’s possible that not all of these new software additions will work with every Pixel phone out there. Despite some things that might not be fully compatible with all models, we’ve still done a deep dive into the preview to give you an indication of some of the very best new features that come as part of Android 11 Beta 3.

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If you’d like to install Android 11 Beta 3 on your device, we have a handy guide that will give you step-by-step instructions. It’s far easier to recommend installing the Beta 3 update, as this is a proper user-facing build. That doesn’t mean we haven’t encountered minor bugs and random issues but if you are worried, then it might not be sensible to install it on your main smartphone.

For those that already have the previous Android 11 preview installed, Google has made it even easier to update with an OTA heading out right now. On top of that, you can also use the Android Flash Tool to sideload the update tool. If you have problems, then you can follow our guide on how to downgrade and return to Android 10 at any time.

Smooth Display on Pixel 4

Android 11 Beta 3 - smooth display

Thanks to some display flickering issues, the ability to force a 90Hz refresh rate everywhere was unceremoniously ripped from the Android 11 Beta 2 and 2.5 updates. Android 11 Beta 3 has restored the option but under a new name.

Smooth Display is what you’ll need to search for within Developer options to ensure that your experience is as slick no matter what app or portion of the OS you’re using.

Power menu tweaks

So long as you have Lockdown mode enabled, when launching into the power menu, you’ll notice a few slight changes. For starters, the “Power” button now has a breadcrumbs menu icon. Tapping will give you a floating window with options to “Power off” and “Restart” your device.

Simply disabling Lockdown mode will get rid of this mini-menu and restore the “Power off” button to a central position with “Restart” to the right.

Quick Settings media player tweaks

Android 11 Beta 3 - media player tweaks

The media controls within the Quick Settings section has had a few little tweaks and changes applied with the Android 11 Beta 3 update. Firstly, when audio is playing, you’ll get a neat divider between the end of your Quick Settings toggles and the media player pane.

Another change now lets you swipe away any media that is not currently playing. To enable the “Hide player when the media session has ended” option, you can swipe into the settings icon and toggle the option. This means that you can fully expand the notification pane to access controls and quickly pick up where you left off.

Android 11 emoji

Android 11 Beta 3 Emoji

After we spent time with them late last month, the Android 11 emoji are now widely available as part of Android 11 Beta 3. There are 117 new emoji to play with including 55 new skin tones plus a ton of refreshed designs and even the return of the popular Nougat-era turtle. You can send them on but it’s worth noting that some devices might not receive them correctly.

Android 11 Easter Egg

The Android 11 logo is now revealed when you head to your Settings pane but it now includes a new Easter Egg. Swiping the toggle “to 11” will reveal a cat emoji toast notification. This lets you add some controls to the Device controls section where you can attract some cats very much like you were able to with Android Nougat.

Instead of using QS tiles, the Android 11 Beta 3 Easter Egg uses a ton of features added throughout the entire Developer Preview and Beta phase.

What is your favorite new feature in Android 11 Beta 3?

Have you installed the third Android 11 Beta? If so, what is your favorite new feature? Let us know down in the comments section below.

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