The eleventh instalment of the Android operating system - aptly named Android 11 - has arrived. Focusing on optimising how you use your smartphone day-to-day, you can expect even more powerful device controls, easier ways to manage and organise conversations, improved smart device controls and much, much more.

Android 11 is available on a range of Android devices, with Google Pixel handsets the first to receive the update.

We uncover Android 11's best features right here.

Notifications

Notifications are changing for Android 11. Instead of a mixed list containing everything from messages and missed calls to social media notifications and app updates, notifications are now organised into three distinct categories: Conversations, Alerting and Silent.

As you might have guessed, the Conversations section is reserved for interactions with others. Standard text messages and missed call notifications will sit here, but you'll also find messages from apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in this category too. Even direct messages from Instagram will be placed into this section, so you can be confident you'll never miss a message no matter what platform you're using.

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Taking things one step further, Android 11 will even let you assign priority levels to certain notifications in the Conversations category. For example, you can label texts from your Mum high priority, and place direct messages from Twitter as low priority - it's completely up to you.

The other two categories - Alerting and Silent - will be familiar from Android 10. You can manually silence notifications from certain apps, and they'll automatically be placed into the Silent category. Everything else will be placed into your Alerting section - like follows on social media, or alerts from YouTube when your favourite influencer uploads a new video.

Chat Bubbles

Chat Bubbles were first introduced with Android 10, but the feature has been revised and placed front-and-centre for Android 11. New and improved, once Chat Bubbles have been activated a small, circular icon will appear at the side of your screen whenever you receive a message from a whole host of apps and chat services.

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Designed to help you multitask without losing focus on whatever you're doing, Chat Bubbles conveniently sit on top of all other apps. Simply tap to quickly reply, then tap back to your main screen. You won't need to navigate away from YouTube or close down your emails, and you can flick between chats from different apps too. From Chat Bubbles, you can reply to someone on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and more from the same location.

To activate Chat Bubbles, just head to Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications > Bubbles and make sure the switch is on.

Screen Recorder

With Android 11, you can finally record whatever is on your screen without having to download a third-party app. All you need to do is open up the Quick Settings tile (some Android users may need to swipe left to do this) and you can start recording.

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You'll have a few options to choose from with Android 11's built-in screen recording as well. You can choose to record with or without audio, and select whether screen taps should appear in the footage or not.

Smart Device Controls

With more people adding smart devices to their homes than ever before, Android 11 has made it super easy to take control using your smartphone. Just hold down the power button on your device, and underneath your usual power-related features you'll see a number of options related to the smart devices you have installed in your home.

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Instead of individually opening various smart home apps, Android 11 will intelligently pull your smart devices into this space to give you fast access. Six devices will be automatically added, but you can add and remove devices at any time.

From here, you can tap on smart lights or appliances like kettles to switch them on or off, lock and unlock doors and even check cameras around your home.

Wireless Android Auto

Helping you to navigate the roads, and giving you easy access to your favourite music apps, podcasts, calendars and more, Android Auto has been loved by Android users for a long time. Until now, only Pixel users could use this feature wirelessly, but it's now available to all Android users.

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As long as the vehicle you're driving has wireless Android Auto support, you'll never have to worry about remembering your wires again.

Optimised Voice Controls

Voice Controls help you to navigate your Android through Google Assistant, and they're particularly useful for users with Android users with mobility issues. Now faster and better than ever, there's been some major upgrades for Android 11 to help you go completely hands-free.

Before the update, certain controls would ask users to tap on the screen to carry out various tasks. For example, to compose a tweet using Twitter you'd be asked to 'Tap 4'. Now, you can open up the app and begin composing a tweet just by saying 'Open Twitter, compose tweet.'

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Voice Access can also be used offline, ensuring support will always be there - even if the Wi-Fi lets you down.

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