Google has applied the brakes to Android 11, pushing things out by a month as it grapples with a world that is much changed since planning for the release began.
The result is that the first beta of the new mobile operating system has been shunted back to 3 June, to coincide with a virtual developer event in the form of "The Beta Launch Show".
Instead of the hoped-for beta, 'droid botherers have received a fourth Developer Preview this week. Those already running a preview build (manual downloads are available for the Pixel 2, 3, 3a and 4) will get an over-the-air (OTA) update to the latest and greatest.
Beta 1 is an important milestone since it will mark the final SDK and NDK APIs for the release and the opening up of the Google Play Store for apps targeting Android 11. Google is urging developers to get their apps compatible in time for wider testing, since the first beta will have a much larger audience than the developer previews.
Beta 2 will follow in July (along with "platform stability") and Beta 3 will now hit in August, replete with final release candidate builds.
While the final APIs have remained on the original timeline, the rest of the milestones marching backwards means developers have a little more time to compile and test. There does, however, remain the same amount of time between stability and the Q3 release.
The release itself includes numerous updates such as one-time permissions for the likes of location or camera, and better waterfall (wraparound) screen support. It should also allow for better 5G visual indicators, although hopefully not in the form of a flaming mast icon.
Though the delay is understandable and unlikely to inconvenience developers too much, device manufacturers hoping to sell new toys preinstalled with the new OS in time for the holidays will be a little disappointed.
Microsoft, for example, which still intends to ship its Surface Duo Android phone this year, would likely be interested in Android 11 functionality aimed at detecting the angle of the hinge in foldables – the Duo having, er, a hinge and all.
The Windows giant has yet to confirm what version of the OS it expects to ship on its next crack at a mobile device. ®