Google started rolling out Android 11 Beta 3 with a surprise Thursday release. This should be the last beta version before Android 11 officially launches later this summer — based on past rumours, likely on September 8th.
The search giant considers Beta 3 a “release candidate build,” which means that Beta 3 is essentially what users will get when the official Android 11 update rolls out. For those who wanted to try the beta but held off for fear of bugs, Beta 3 should be the safest and most stable version yet. That said, expect some bugs and issues since it is still a beta.
Beta 3 being a ‘release candidate’ also means that almost everything in the beta is finalized and ready for launch. For app developers, that means Beta 3 is the best option to test against for compatibility.
Keep an eye on MobileSyrup for coverage of any significant new features, although there likely won’t be many at this stage in the beta lifecycle. One addition of note is that Android 11 Beta 3 no longer requires users to turn on device location settings to use Exposure Notification apps.
A small change for Exposure Notification apps
Google collaborated with Apple to develop an Exposure Notification system that works across iOS and Android. However, as apps using the system became available — including Canada’s COVID Alert app — it became clear that Android users had to enable location services on their phones to use them. It created plenty of confusion since the Exposure Notification apps explicitly don’t use location, and not using location was a key selling point of the system.
Exposure Notification apps rely on Bluetooth scanning to work, and Bluetooth scanning on Android is bundled as part of the location permission. That’s why Android users had to enable location, even though the Exposure Notification apps didn’t use location at all. Essentially, Google added an ‘exemption’ that allows Exposure Notification apps to use Bluetooth scanning without requiring the full location permission. You can read Google’s full explanation here.
Those already part of the Android Beta Program should receive the Beta 3 over-the-air (OTA) update this afternoon. If you haven’t joined, head to the Beta Program website and select the phone you want to enroll. Google will push an OTA with the beta to your device. It’s worth noting that Google says the Android Beta Program will support the Pixel 4a soon. That’s good news for soon-to-be Pixel 4a owners in the U.S., but in Canada, the 4a won’t be available until September 10th, after the Android 11 update is expected to go live.
You can read up on the details of Android 11 Beta 3 on the Android Developers Blog.