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What new Android 11 features should IT know about?

Android 11's public beta has revealed several new features that IT admins should take note of, such as incremental app installs and more detailed information on app data access.

Android 11 is currently in public beta and set for release in the third quarter of 2020, and there are several notable new Android 11 features that mobile administrators should keep an eye on.

The Android 11 Developer Preview has been available since February with updated versions released in March and April, so there has been plenty of time to review the new Android 11 features.

Naturally, a lot of the buzz surrounding Android 11 focuses on the consumer features such as charging pad alignment and the option to increase touch sensitivity. However, mobile admins should pay attention to the enterprise-focused features so they can prepare for the release later this year.

While these new Android 11 features are subject to change in the final release, there are several standout features that IT professionals need to be aware of to keep mobile policy and management best practices up to date.

ADB incremental installations

IT can now set large applications to install incrementally. This allows the application to initially download to the point where it is usable and the employee can launch the app. Even while the user has the app launched, the remainder of the application downloads and installs in the background.

Improved data access auditing

With this new level of data availability, developers will have a more substantial ability to see how mobile applications access user data. This will require IT to review and update existing applications, as Android has renamed some of the APIs associated with the OS.

Resume on reboot

With this Android 11 feature, IT departments can give applications permission to access credential-encrypted storage after a reboot. If an admin pushed out an over-the-air update overnight, this Android OS update will not affect the mobile applications' ability to connect to any encrypted file-sharing systems before the user unlocks the device.

5G state API

This timely Android 11 feature comes during the proliferation of 5G networking. With this feature, Android mobile applications can detect when the device has 5G connectivity.

Scoped storage

With this new feature for Android 11, admins can deploy more specific application access controls. This feature, aimed at improving app security, allows IT admins to control which parts of corporate file systems outside applications can access.

Organizations currently using the work profile on partially managed devices will have to either migrate to the new enhanced profile Android 11 feature or convert their devices to fully managed.

End of support for work profile on fully managed devices

This Android 11 feature deprecation will likely affect organizations' mobility strategy and require advance planning from the mobile IT administrators. The enhanced work profile experience on Android 11 will still allow a separately encrypted work profile area. However, with Android 11, IT admins can no longer leave the remainder of the device unmanaged. This could result in privacy issues for organizations that deploy personally enabled corporate devices or manage BYOD smartphones.

Organizations currently using the work profile on partially managed devices will have to either migrate to the new enhanced profile Android 11 feature or convert their devices to fully managed. Either route will have control and privacy implications for the business and will require new policies from the organization.

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