Look, I try to be fair in my takes on Android. I think the Apple-centric press is way too hard on it overall, and I believe it’s often talked about in ways that imply it hasn’t changed since 2013. It certainly has, and it’s gotten much better, even if I still think it lags far behind iOS overall.
What was really interesting was that last year’s Android 10 was largely the iOS-ification of Android. So much so that I made this video last fall as I followed along with someone talking about the best new things in Android 10.
Feature parity isn’t a bad thing, and I think Android is better for adding all of these things. But when 80% of the new stuff in the release are things I’ve been used to having on iOS for upwards of a decade in some cases, it doesn’t inspire tons of enthusiasm.
Which brings me to this video that goes over the best user-facing features in the new Android 11 developer preview.
Here’s what they go over:
- Dark mode scheduling: Added in iOS 13 when Apple added their dark mode. Android 10 introduced a system dark mode and it was only able to be controlled manually. You can select a schedule based on specific times, of do what I do and use sunrise and sunset based on your location.
- Screen recording: Added in iOS 12, screen recording is one of my favorite little iOS features, and having it on Android now is huge.
- New stupid air gesture for play/pause: Not an iOS thing, but also an addition to maybe the worst feature on the Pixel 4.
- BlueTooth stays on in Airplane Mode: Love this, and it’s also something that Android fans mocked Apple for doing last year.
- Share sheet can be sorted (only up to 4): This one might be shocking, but while iOS has allowed you to customize the share sheet since iOS 8, Android has never allowed this, and it’s even gone out of its way to shuffle your share options so you can’t build muscle memory on where certain things are because they chift throughout the day. Now you can save up to 4 share actions and put them near the top of the share sheet.
- Conversation Notification Group: This is genuinely new and an awesome addition. Basically, Android will collect your notifications from things like SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. and let you deal with these together. These are the specific notifications I never want to miss and I want to address first, so this change is lovely.
Google I/O is in May and that’s where Google will show off the full Android 11 release, but so far we have a pretty similar situation to last year: Android is getting more like iOS. On the other hand, with rumors that iOS 14 is going to let you set alternative default apps, iOS is also getting more like Android. I’m setting myself a reminder to compare the iOS 14 feature set compared to Android when that is revealed in June.