We’ve already done a deep dive into all of the biggest user-facing changes in Android 11, but there are some really underrated features that deserve some recognition.
Not everything is created equally, and the features that were added in Android 11 are no exception. Quite a few people were disappointed in the late-2020 OS upgrade, which is a little harsh but understandable.
Each OS iteration has brought in some impressive changes, but for the first time in a few years, Android has felt more “complete” — making it harder to understand some inclusions and even some glaring omissions. While Android 10 felt like the biggest leap for some time, Android 11 feels almost Apple-like in its tweaks and feature additions.
There are still over 40 user-facing changes that will enhance your everyday experience, plus plenty of under-the-hood additions. With that said, these are some of the most underrated Android 11 features that you might not have even tried or noticed yet since upgrading.
Being able to check your entire notification history in a user-friendly subsection is a feature you probably didn’t use all too often, but it’s still a really underrated feature within Android 11. It actually isn’t technically new, but it’s a new UI that helps you navigate and see a log of every app, game, or anything else that has notified or pinged your device.
The old notification log wasn’t organized or categorized in the same way, making this a more powerful tool if you missed a notification and want to see just when it arrived. With COVID-19 exposure notifications now part of the System, then it might actually prove to be a useful safety tool too.
Gesture sensitivity adjustments
It’s amazing how quickly you can become accustomed to the Android gesture navigation method. It’s less amazing how overly responsive or unresponsive they can be depending on how you hold your phone. Thanks to the added ability to tweak and adjust the sensitivity settings or the left and right-sided swipe back gestures, at least you can make tweaks that suit your usage patterns.
Built-in screen recorder
We’ll concede that this one is long overdue, too. Screen recording is nothing new in Android, but it is technically new in Android 11. Finally, after years of the feature being available on other Android devices, a native screen recording option is now built into the core Android OS.
The sheer weight of expectation makes this both an overrated and underrated Android 11 feature — yes, that is a weird thing to say. You probably don’t even care. However, not having to download a separate app is still a really nice bonus that will probably get overlooked.
The keyboard autofill option is another neat everyday usability feature that doesn’t seem like a big addition on face value but ends up being one of the best new inclusions. Not having a pop-up menu for entering your pre-configured login details and passwords streamlines the experience when on the web or in an app.
Because it’s baked into your keyboard, it feels more cohesive if you do use Gboard. That said, we think it’s definitely an underrated component in probably the best Android keyboard.
Recents panel screenshot button
Have you tried using the “screenshot” button newly added to the recent apps panel? Now you might think it would take a weird screenshot of the app carousel, but no, it actually grabs a screenshot of the application currently in view.
That means that to take a screenshot of any application you currently have open, you don’t technically need to even open said application. As a timesaver, this really is a properly underrated Android 11 feature. It might not be something you are doing right now, but give it a try and you might find it’s more useful than you first realized.
4GB file limit for video recording removed
Say goodbye to that annoying 4GB limitation when recording 4K video, as it has been lifted in Android 11. There are still some weird quirks, but you should be able to record at higher resolutions — or 1080p — without having annoying arbitrary limits and potentially losing out on milliseconds of footage when the file separates into multiple clips.
Airplane mode Bluetooth connection awareness
Travel might be far down most people’s agendas during a global pandemic, but the ability to maintain your Bluetooth connections when toggling Airplane mode is amazing. You might want to get rid of distractions and find that Do Not Disturb mode doesn’t quite cut it, but you’re enjoying a podcast.
This little tweak is a really nice usability feature that shows Google cares about the little details in its mobile OS. Not being met with complete silence because your headphones or speaker have disconnected when toggling Airplane mode is criminally underrated in Android 11.
App permissions reset after preset period
Worried about giving a random app permission to access your camera or microphone and worried about it maybe overstepping the mark with regard to your privacy? Worry no more as any applications you haven’t used for an extended period will have their permissions revoked automatically.
When you launch said application again, you’ll need to re-enable your permission preferences. This might seem like overkill but it is an important privacy control. Plus, it acts automatically to keep your personal data completely private.
Wi-Fi auto connection improvements
When you’re having issues with your Wi-Fi connection or when connecting to a Wi-Fi network you use regularly, Android 11 now includes some added functionality to help streamline and enhance the process. The auto-reconnect option is useful if you have multiple networks within one space and want preferential connections to one specific network.
You can also quickly disconnect and connect to networks much quicker thanks to a new toggle. This might not seem like an important option, but if you have issues with your device connecting to the wrong networks, it’s a real bonus.
Disable Always-on display at night
Hey, we love the always-on display on Pixel devices, but when you want to unwind or just get a good night’s sleep, it can be pretty annoying. You might not want to disable the Always-on display, except for during the evenings.
If you use the bedtime mode in conjunction with the Clock app, you are now able to disable your Always-on display during your bedtime mode schedule. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re distracted enough by your smartphone display during the day, it’s actually a refreshing addition.
Have a favorite or underrated Android 11 feature?
What are you loving in Android 11 that you think needs a little more recognition? Be sure to let us know down in the comments section below.
More on Android 11:
- Android 11 exhibits annoying bug that can break multitasking
- Android 11 is coming to Android TV w/ low-latency, better gamepad support, more
- Android 11’s smart home controls are nowhere to be found in Samsung OneUI 3.0… so far
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