Android 11 lands with plenty more privacy preferences for Pixels and special Google friends first

Enterprise edition offers admins more ways to blend work and play

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Google has loosed Android 11 on a waiting world.

The company is again delivering the update to owners of its Pixel phones on the day of release, and to some phones from OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO and realme. Those of you using other mobe-makers’ tin get to wait until those vendors get their act together.

Among the updates are plenty of changes to Android’s enterprise incarnation that Google says “better support company-owned devices” with “controls like asset management tools and personal usage policies that give IT the ability to keep devices compliant with corporate policy without compromising employee privacy.” IT can’t turn on location services on a company-owned phone without users being made aware of the change.

“An increasingly common deployment model is company-owned, personally enabled devices (COPE) … where employees have both work and personal information on a single device,” states Google’s Android 11 work profile explainer [PDF]. “Often in this use case, IT and Security admins seek full visibility over the entire device. This can create a challenge, pitting company security against employee privacy.”

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Google’s answer is to improved work profile support for company-owned devices. “If a work profile is added from the setup wizard using the provisioning tools added in Android 11, the device is recognized as company-owned and a wider range of asset management and device level controls are made available to the device policy controller,” the explainer says. “Protecting and preserving a user's privacy does not impact a device's overall security but rather prevents an admin from viewing potentially sensitive info such as personal apps,” it adds. Other new enterprise features let wielders of company phones to set a schedule that mutes apps installed by their employers. But those apps can now share data with tools users run under their personal profiles, but only after opt-in by both user and administrator.

Google says this new feature will make it possible for items in a personal calendar to appear in a company-administered work calendar. “Personal calendar events will remain privately stored on device in the personal profile, invisible to both colleagues and IT,” the company promises.

The mainstream Android update adds one-time permission requests that make it an option to have apps always check if you are really happy for them to drive your microphone and camera. Android will also automatically reset permissions of little-used apps and, if you use them again, prompt for permissions anew.

Personal calendar events will remain privately stored on device in the personal profile, invisible to both colleagues and IT

Android Auto has cut the cord: on compatible cars its made-for-driving UI can now be invoked wirelessly instead of requiring a cable in your cockpit.

Built-in video screen-capture is another addition, as is a new feature called “Bubbles” that Google says “respond to important conversations without having to switch back and forth between what you’re doing and your messaging app.”

Minimum specs for Android 11 demand 2GB of memory, lesser devices will only be able to run the cut-down Android Go. Full specs are offered in the Android 11 Capability Definition [PDF]. ®

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