6 new Android 11 features you can use today


As Android 11 continues to roll out to handsets around the world, users of Google’s mobile operating system are getting a ton of new features that could completely change the way they use their phones. Apple’s iOS has offered some of them for years, but other new tricks put Google ahead of the iPhone ($699 at Amazon).

From connecting third-party apps and voice-controlled Google Assistant in deeper, more useful ways, to new communication tools designed to make conversations easier, Android 11 brings a lot of important changes just as Apple prepares for the launch of the rumored iPhone 12 with updated iOS 14 on Oct. 13.

As competition with rival smart assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa continues to heat up, Google has been adding more and more features to its digital helper, Google Assistant. Google Assistant isn’t just the default AI on Android phones, but is also baked into Google Home and Google Nest smart home devices (and even available on Apple devices loaded with certain Google apps).

Here’s a look at six of the most interesting and useful updates coming to Android 11 phones in 2020.

Google Assistant now works with third-party apps

For years, Android users have been able to open their email, send a text and control a whole litany of actions on their phones using Google Assistant, but the feature was limited to Android apps and services. Apple’s Siri, on the other hand, has been able to control third-party apps for a while now.

But Google has evened things up. The company recently announced partnerships with 30 third-party apps, including Walmart, Mint, Spotify, Etsy, and Discord, and says it expects to add more in the coming weeks and months.

Now Android 11 users will be able to accomplish tasks on specific apps by saying things like:

  • “Hey, Google, search cozy blankets on Etsy”
  • “OK, Google, open Selena Gomez on Snapchat.”
  • “Hey, Google, log a berry smoothie on MyFitnessPal.”

Verified Calls lets you know who’s calling

When your phone rings out of the blue, you want to know who’s calling and why. The Android app you use to make and receive calls has gotten some updates that should help you figure it out, even when you don’t recognize the number – just like iPhones can do.

Besides filtering spam, which works by silencing calls from numbers Google has identified as potentially fraudulent, Google has also introduced its Verified Calls feature, which authorizes certain businesses and shows you the company name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol.

There’s a similar program called Verified SMS for text messages.

Android can turn noises into push notifications

All kinds of things, from microwaves to fire alarms to visitors standing outside your front door, use sound to alert you. But if you have hearing loss or are wearing headphones, you might not catch them all. Android’s new Sound Notifications feature is meant to listen for all the beeps, buzzes and knocks around you, then alert you with a push notification on your phone…Read more>>