Google today launched the third Android 11 developer preview with app exit reasons updates, GWP-ASan heap analysis, Android Debug Bridge (ADB) Incremental, wireless debugging, and data access auditing. You can download Android 11 DP3 now from developer.android.com — if you have the previous preview, Google will also be pushing an over-the-air (OTA) update. The release includes a preview SDK with system images for the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4 XL, as well as the official Android Emulator.
Google launched Android 11 DP1 in February, the earliest Android developer preview it has ever released, and Android 11 DP2 in March. Last year, Google used the Android Beta Program, which lets you get early Android builds via over-the-air updates on select devices. This year, however, Google is not making the first few previews available as betas (you’ll need to manually flash your device). In other words, Android 11 is not ready for early adopters to try, just developers. Like DP1 and DP2, Android 11 DP3 is only available on eight Pixel phones. That’s a tiny slice of the over 2.5 billion monthly active Android devices — the main reason developers are eager to see what’s new for the platform in the first place. Google will likely release Android 11 to more phones with the first beta. To help Google get there, you can give feedback and report bugs here.
Android 11 DP1 brought 5G experiences, people and conversations improvements, Neural Networks API 1.3, privacy and security features, Google Play System updates, app compatibility, connectivity, image and camera improvements, and low latency tweaks. DP2 built on those with foldable, call screening, and Neural Networks API improvements. DP3 adds three new features and makes two improvements to existing ones.
Android 11 DP3 features
Here’s the rundown of what’s new (diff report and release notes) in Android 11 Developer Preview 3:
- App exit reasons updates: Android 11 has an exit reasons API that helps you figure out why an app exited, including crashes, system kills, and user actions. DP3 brings a few updates based on developer input.
- GWP-ASan heap analysis: A sampling allocation tool that detects heap memory errors with minimal overhead or impact on performance. GWP-ASan runs by default in platform binaries and system apps, and you can now enable it for your apps as well. If your app uses native code or libraries, it’s another way to find and fix memory safety issues.
- ADB Incremental: Installing large APKs (2GB+) from your development computer to an Android 11 device is now up to 10x faster. To use this new developer tool, you’ll need to sign your APK with the new APK signature scheme v4 format, and then install your APK with the updated ADB command line tool. In DP3, ADB Incremental only works with Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL due to a required file system change at the device level.
- Wireless Debugging: A completely revamped debugging experience using ADB over a Wi-Fi connection. Unlike the existing TCP/IP debugging workflow, Wireless Debugging on Android 11 does not need a cable to set up, remembers connections over time, and can utilize the full speed of the latest Wi-Fi standards. An integrated experience for wireless debugging with QR code scanning is coming in a future Android Studio release.
- Data access auditing updates: Instrument your app to better understand how it accesses user data and from which user flows (sample app). In DP3, Google renamed several of these APIs.
After you’ve flashed Android 11 onto your device or fired up the Android Emulator, you’ll want to update your Android Studio environment with the Android 11 Preview SDK (set up guide). Then install your current production app and test the user flows. For a complete rundown on what’s new, check the API overview, API reference, and behavior changes. To help developers test, Google made many of the targetSdk changes toggleable, so you can force-enable or disable them individually from Developer options or ADB. The greylists of restricted non-SDK interfaces can also be enabled/disabled.
The goal of the developer previews is to let developers explore new features and APIs for apps early, test for compatibility, and give feedback. Normally, more details would be shared during Google’s developer conference in May, but given that event has been canceled, Google will have to adjust. Either way, expect more new features and capabilities in the first beta.
Last year, there were six betas. This year, there will be three developer previews and three betas. Here’s the preview/beta schedule for Android 11:
- February: Developer Preview 1 (Early baseline build focused on developer feedback, with new features, APIs, and behavior changes.)
- March: Developer Preview 2 (Incremental update with additional features, APIs, and behavior changes.)
- April: Developer Preview 3 (Incremental update for stability and performance.)
- May: Beta 1 (Initial beta-quality release, over-the-air update to early adopters who enroll in Android Beta.)
- June: Beta 2 (Platform Stability milestone. Final APIs and behaviors. Play publishing opens.)
- Q3: Beta 3 (Release candidate build.)
- Q3: Final release (Android 11 release to AOSP and ecosystem.)
Google is asking developers to make their apps compatible with Android 11 so that their users can expect a seamless transition when they upgrade. “When we reach Platform Stability, system behaviors, non-SDK greylists, and APIs are finalized,” Google VP of engineering Dave Burke wrote today. “At that time, plan on doing your final compatibility testing and releasing your fully compatible app, SDK, or library as soon as possible so that it is ready for the final Android 11 release.”
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