Currently only possible on Pixel phones, Android 11 lets users see where other people are in real-time on Google Maps via Live View feature.
Google launched Android 11 Tuesday and with it comes a slew of new features. While more than just the company’s own phones will be receiving the OS update during the initial rollout, Google has also unveiled a few Pixel-first features, that will be exclusive to its own line of phones, at least for the time being. This includes a somewhat stalkerish feature that lets users track friends’ locations in Google Maps in real-time.
The search giant first unveiled the latest version of operating system back in February and a beta became available back in June. Android 11 will eventually be rolled out to more phones, but for now, outside of its own Pixel line, it will be available to somewhat less common brands in North American, including Oppo and OnePlus. But since Android is the largest mobile operating system around, it’s certain many smartphone users have been waiting for this update with baited breath.
Android 11 comes with a variety of improvements to communication, control of smart devices and media, and enhanced privacy and data controls. However, users of Google’s own Pixel line will experience additional updates. Google highlighted these new features in a blog post, and, among the updates, is a new way feature that essentially lets users stalks their friends and family via Google Maps. The feature is called Live View with Location Sharing. Basically, if a Pixel owner wants to know where someone is and that person has shared his or her location, the person can be tracked in Google Maps — not just on the map itself but also through a Live View, which utilizes Google Street View. Obviously, Google Street View isn’t a live video feed, but it will show an avatar of the person superimposed over the maneuverable Live View image of the scene. It can be a good tool for people who are trying to meet up with one another, but don’t necessarily know their surroundings. While calling it stalking might be a bit of an exaggeration, since the people being tracked do choose to share their locations first, it does still have a bit of an Orwellian feel to it.
Other Pixel-First Android 11 Features
While less novel, the other Pixel-specific Android 11 updates could also prove beneficial, depending on the functionality. There’s a new messaging feature called Smart Reply, which aims to make chatting streamline by offering suggestions on how to respond. This, in itself, is hardly groundbreaking. Other chat programs can provide stock responses to messages. If the suggestions can become more intuitive over time, it could lead to interesting conversations. Granted, that’s just speculation. Even in the example in Google’s own blog post, the suggestions aren’t that sophisticated. Layla messages. “Hey how are you?” Smart Reply suggests responding with, “Good,” “I’m good” and “I’m good and you?” So, hardly the most scintillating of conversations to be sure.
Android 11 will also suggest apps for Pixel owners to use at different times of the day based on their patterns of behavior. It also makes selecting text and images easier and provides updates to the home screen setup, with such things as intelligent folder name suggestions and the ability to group apps by theme. These features will be available to all Google phone users, who own a Pixel 2 or later, and they may get rolled out to other Android 11 users in the future.
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