Mozilla, the non-profit group behind Firefox, appears to all the time be reinventing itself. It has tried quite a few instances to create new income sources, modified a traditional brand, and even introduce paid options and companies. It has additionally just lately reinvented its browser for Android, virtually throwing away lots of the conventions and options that customers have turn into accustomed to over time. Maybe unsurprisingly, that additionally contains add-ons of which solely a handful will work with the brand new Android model of the browser when it launches.
To some extent, the brand new Firefox for Android, at the moment referred to as Firefox Preview, is an overhaul. Mozilla spins it as taking Gecko engine it already makes use of for all its browsers and turning it right into a reusable Android library. As with many such overhauls, compatibility with a number of issues shall be thrown out and browser extensions are all the time those that get the quick finish of the stick.
That’s to not say the brand new Firefox for Android gained’t help addons. Mozilla says it needs to make sure that the primary expertise with the brand new browser to be distinctive so it’s limiting supported addons to a subset that’s a part of its Advisable Extensions program. Whereas these extensions cowl a large gamut, together with advert blockers password managers, and content material downloaders, there are less than a hundred of them in complete. For many who depend on lesser-known extensions, the expertise shall be something however distinctive.
There’s additionally a little bit of confusion concerning the a number of variations of Firefox obtainable on Google Play Retailer for the time being. To place an finish to the questions, Mozilla will cut back that down to 2. Those that wish to maintain testing new options must transfer from Firefox Preview Nightly, which is being eliminated, to Firefox Preview. Options from Firefox Preview will then be moved to Firefox for Android Beta.
When the brand new Firefox for Android goes steady, nonetheless, continues to be in flux. When it does, do anticipate a little bit of bother as folks transition to new variations and probably see their extensions break. Whether or not a model new Firefox is what Mozilla must retain is footing on Android continues to be an open query, particularly with Chrome’s speedy growth and Google’s residence court docket benefit.
Android 11 (Android R) hands-on and first impressions!
Google surprised all of us with an Android 11 developer preview in February. It’s quite early for a developer preview and it may mean a sooner launch for Android 11 proper. The OS goes by Android R in its settings and, if you’ll recall, Google still uses the old letter and dessert method internally. In any case, we got our hands on it and we took a hands on. Read more about Android 11 below or watch the video above!
The UI section of this article is going to be rather short. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of new stuff and any subtle changes aren’t obvious at first glance. However, this is the first developer preview and we actually had quite a few big visual changes last year. Google doesn’t usually do a bunch of UI changes two years in a row.
However, I did notice that you can still switch between gesture controls and the three button soft key option. The gestures feel a little smoother this time around but that might also just be me seeing something I wanted to see.
If there are any major UI changes to Android 11, we’ll most likely see them in future betas. To be honest, it makes sense that we don’t see hardly any in this preview because it’s solely for developers and not for consumers so it doesn’t really matter what it looks like yet. We’ll keep you up to date if we find anything.
The first Android 11 preview isn’t too heavy on the features, but there are still some fun things worth talking about.
The first and most obviously noticeable feature is a screen recorder function in the quick settings. I had to add it to the quick settings shade, but it works as intended. You simply tick the quick setting toggle and it’s off to the races. The video recording worked surprisingly well even though my Pixel 3a was doing like 5 things in the background.
There is a bug with the feature though. If you take a screenshot, the notification for screen recording disappears and you must go back to the quick settings icon to disable the recording.
Things that record the screen are some of the biggest Android 11 features.
While we’re on the topic of things your screen records, there is a hidden flag in Android 11 that shows a screenshot UI that includes an extend feature which will likely become the ability to take scrolling screenshots. The feature doesn’t work yet, but there is now evidence of its existence.
Android 11 also improves the dark theme settings. The feature can now enable and disable itself at sunrise and sunset. This was a long time feature on other devices, particularly Samsung devices, but it’s nice to see it trickle down to stock Android.
Most of the new features are quality of life improvements rather than real features.
One of my favorite new features is the ability to pin apps to the share menu. You simply long press the app icon and select the Pin option to place it perpetually at the top of the share menu. This doesn’t work in every app, but it does work in Chrome where we tested it.
Finally, it seems like Bubbles finally works. You have to enable it in the developer options and then long press a notification to turn it on, but you can actually see what it looks like without any ADB tomfoolery. It’s buggy right now, but we expect it to improve over the course of the year. Plus, notifications for messages are now bundled under a conversations tab. It didn’t work too well for me, but again, we expect it to get better over the course of the year.
That’s about it for features right now, but we’ll update you if we find anymore in the coming days and weeks.
Under the hood
As per the norm, a good deal of the changes in Android 11 take place under the hood. The first and most noticeable thing I found was native support for some modern technologies. The documentation makes specific reference to things like 5G, foldable phones, and low latency video support for things like game streaming. That is hardly a surprise, though, and we fully expected it.
However, we were glad to see a new cutout API that helps prevent screen elements from being hidden or messed up by curved displays, waterfall notches, pinhole cameras, and other such things.
Another change is potentially the ability to use Bluetooth audio while in airplane mode. Previously, airplane mode was a blanket effect and that turned everything off. It still does that, but if you are connected to bluetooth headphones connected to A2DP, Android is now smart enough to disable just WiFi and mobile connections without messing with Bluetooth.
Android 11 supports 5G, foldables, pinhole cameras, curved displays, and possibly reverse wireless charging.
Android 11 decided to fix an obnoxious issue of hearing notification tones and vibrations while shooting photos and recording video. This is enabled by default actually and you have to disable do not disturb mode for the camera in order to actually see that this feature is there. In any case, an API is also available so this feature can work in third party camera apps.
You can already store credit cards, rewards cards, and even car insurance cards on your phone and now Android 11 now includes support for driver’s licenses. This one is a bit tricky because it has to adhere to ISO standards for identification and we’re not 100% certain how it’s gonna work and whether or not you can just use this as a valid form of ID, but it’s there.
We’re excited to learn how to digitized driver’s licenses work.
Finally, there is a neat overlay for refresh rates similar to gaming software that shows you the frames per second. It’s available in the developer options and shows you when your screen is at 60hz, 90hz, or 120hz. Of course, this is only useful on displays with higher refresh rates so you can see when the higher refresh rates are actually working.
Of course, there is a laundry list of improvements to existing APIs along with 12 new Project Mainline modules, and other such things. It’s far too long of a list of rattle off here so we recommend checking out the Android Developers website.
Privacy and Security
Security is getting at least a few decent updates this year, but it’s actually just building on stuff we had last year with Android 10. For instance, we discussed Scoped Storage at length last year. However, this year, it received a bit more attention and is now a requirement for apps targeting Android 11’s API level.
Another change is to the permissions system. Last year, Google added the ability to grant permissions only while the app was in use. This year, they’ve added the ability to only grant a permission a single time. This is very similar to how the app Bouncer works. However, it’s only available for sensitive permissions such as camera, microphone, and location.
Stock Android permissions are in a really good space with Android 11.
Permissions also have another neat trick. Apps like to ask for the same permission over and over again even if you deny it. In previous versions of Android, you could tick a box to not show that permission again. In Android 11, after two denials, the system automatically assumes you never want to see it again and prevents the app from ever asking.
Additionally, Android 11 heavily restricts background location access for apps. The restrictions are long and tedious to explain, but suffice it to say that apps have to do a lot more than they used to in order to justify pinging your location in the background, including (but not limited to) getting approval to remain on the Google Play Store. This could also save on battery and we’re always fans of that.
New biometrics and permission changes dominate Android 11’s new security features.
There is also a new biometric API with varying levels of biometrics, including weak, strong, and device credentials. To be perfectly honest, we saw mentions of strong versus weak biometrics as far back as Android 8.1, but it seems like the API is expanding to be more spoof-proof and more private.
Of course, there are an array of smaller changes that would take ages to list here. For instance, granting overlay permissions takes an extra tap in Android 11 than it did in Android 10. These changes are minor and will take forever to list, so we’d like to direct your attention again to the Android Developers website for every little change made.
Overall, my first impressions of Android 11 are fairly solid. As is the norm these days, Google is shoring up weaknesses from Android 10 while adding a few extra goodies, but most of the changes are underneath the hood and strictly for developers. Of course, this is the first developer preview and Google may be saving some of the consumer facing stuff for later betas.
There are some device specific changes. For instance, the Pixel 4 gets an increased touch sensitivity option for screen protectors and more Motion Sense stuff. However, by and large, Android 11 feels a lot like Android 10 Plus just like Android 10 felt like Android 9 Plus. You shouldn’t expect any major changes in this version for better or for worse.
That said, I did like what I saw. There weren’t any bombastic new features and it’s actually a fairly run-of-the-mill update so far, but there are a lot of little quality of life changes that makes things better. I especially liked pinning apps to the sharing menu and the ability to screen record and, of course, all of the under the hood stuff makes things better in the long run.
Android 11 is a solid overall update, but it still feels like Android 10 Plus rather than its own thing.
I’m gonna answer that question that everybody asks and the answer is no, you should absolutely not run this as a daily driver. I caught a few bugs while moving around the UI and the occasional long load time for an app or menu. This is for developers, not for consumers, so wait until at least the next one to run this yourself unless you really want to see it in action.
In any case, that’s our first hands on with Android 11. There are almost certainly things I missed or didn’t cover. Keep an eye on Android Authority for more coverage as we uncover Android 11’s secrets over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, there is no Android 11 Easter egg at this time and that’s disappointing.
If we missed any cool Android 11 features, tell us about it in the comments! Are you excited for Android 11 when it launches later this year?
The Best Xbox One Exclusives (February 2020)
Whereas the Xbox One has fallen behind the PlayStation four relating to lifetime gross sales, that doesn’t imply we will’t applaud its pristine collection of unique video games. Microsoft and third-party publishers have handpicked a group of the most effective Xbox One exclusives, with many titles getting a launch on PC.
Whether or not you’re excited by aggressive on-line multiplayer like Halo 5: Guardians or a top-tier racing sport like Forza Horizon four, there’s a sport tailor-made to fit your particular gaming wants. Right here’s our record of the most effective Xbox One exclusives.
Sundown Overdrive (additionally on PC)
Insomniac Video games has been largely related to the PlayStation household due to video games like Ratchet & Clank and Spider-Man, however the studio was at its best possible when it created Sundown Overdrive. Set within the titular Sundown Metropolis throughout an apocalypse introduced on by tainted vitality drinks, it’s as much as you to defeat the grotesque mutants roaming the streets, all whereas grinding and bounding between buildings such as you’re an expert skateboarder with out a skateboard.
Sundown Overdrive is vibrant, colourful, and infrequently hilarious, poking enjoyable at established online game tropes and by no means taking itself remotely significantly. Given the variety of darkish and gritty video games launched this common, it’s greater than welcome.
Learn our full Sundown Overdrive assessment
Quantum Break (additionally on PC)
Some of the experimental video games launched for Xbox One, Treatment Leisure’s Quantum Break takes the developer’s famed third-person taking pictures experience and places a science-fiction twist on it. Following a failed experiment that resulted in a number of researchers gaining time journey talents, it’s a race towards the ever-shifting clock with a view to shield the world from the ambitions of an unhinged villain.
Alongside together with your wits, you’re given a gun and the power to momentarily manipulate time, leading to some very efficient powers throughout shootouts. In between these sections, the sport makes use of live-action scenes to offer extra perception into the story, with acclaimed actors like Lance Reddick, Aiden Gillen, and Shawn Ashmore.
Learn our full Quantum Break assessment
Some of the prolific sport builders to ever come from the UK, Uncommon has been placing out quirky, entertaining, and distinctive video games for many years. A few of its best titles have been bundled collectively within the Uncommon Replay, a compilation that begins with video games from the early ‘80s proper as much as the Xbox 360.
These embody basic beat-‘em-ups like Battletoads, cult fighter Killer Intuition, and the whimsical Viva Piñata, all totally playable on Xbox One. With older arcade and NES titles, there’s even a rewind characteristic that makes the video games way more forgiving, so youthful gamers will nonetheless be capable to get pleasure from them.
Sea of Thieves (additionally on PC)
Sea of Thieves is the quintessential Uncommon sport, that includes loads of the developer’s lighthearted humor with a stunning and cartoony artwork fashion. Loosely structured and largely player-driven, Sea of Thieves duties you with changing into the last word pirate as you discover its huge open world, all the time with the specter of different gamers looming over you.
To defend your self, you may carry a number of associates on board your ship, and because the sport helps cross-play with PC customers, you gained’t have an issue discovering somebody keen to help. After all, this gained’t all the time cease you from seeing your treasure stolen and your ship sunk.
Learn our full Sea of Thieves assessment
State of Decay 2 (additionally on PC)
Probably the most harmful factor in a zombie apocalypse isn’t all the time the zombies – it will also be your dwindling provide of meals, illness, or infighting … however the zombies don’t assist issues. In State of Decay 2, it’s essential to remodel a bunch of inexperienced survivors right into a steady group able to sustaining and defending itself towards zombie assaults, all whilst you enterprise out into the largely overrun surrounding areas searching for info on a remedy for the plague. Half motion and half technique, your group’s provide ranges are nearly all the time your prime concern, however they lower at a sluggish sufficient tempo to keep away from making State of Decay 2 really feel too worrying.
Learn our full State of Decay 2 assessment
Ori and the Blind Forest (additionally on PC)
Many video games have emulated the open-ended exploration of Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night time through the years, even incomes the style its Metroidvania title, however few have managed to do it as efficiently as Ori and the Blind Forest.
With a quickly-expanding record of particular talents and several other stunning places to discover, the sense of discovery you’re feeling whereas enjoying could make you downright emotional, but it surely has nothing on the easy and tear-inducing story. On a mission to revive her adopted mom, small creature Ori faces almost insurmountable odds, and he or she learns a bit of bit about her enemies alongside the way in which.
Sports activities and racing
#IDARB (additionally on PC)
It’s laborious to explain #IDARB to somebody with out really exhibiting them the sport in motion, and even at that time, you continue to may not make certain what you’re taking a look at. What started as a easy drawing (the title means I Drew a Pink Field), it shortly changed into a crowd-influenced action-sports sport that mixes components of basketball with over-the-top power-ups that may utterly change the foundations at a second’s discover. It’s additionally the one sport that allows you to enter the notorious Lang Zone. Finest performed with a pal by your facet to slap at any time when they win, #IDARB is bizarre, nonsensical, and an entire lot of enjoyable.
Forza Horizon four (additionally on PC)
Playground Video games has confirmed itself as among the finest racing sport builders on the planet, and the studio has outdone itself with Forza Horizon four. Taking the motion to Britain this time round, Forza Horizon four is packed stuffed with racing challenges and open-world enjoyable to partake in, and working on an Xbox One X at 4K or 60 frames per second, it’s a completely gorgeous show of energy.
A brand new seasons system adjustments the environments, as effectively, freezing over lakes or turning straightforward roads into muddy deathtraps, and with actual gamers all the time racing round you on this planet, you’re just some moments away from a race at any time.
Learn our full Forza Horizon four assessment
Forza Motorsport 7 (additionally on PC)
For essentially the most devoted gearheads on Xbox One, you’ll wish to select Forza Motorsport 7, a love letter actually quick automobiles from Flip 10. The sport incorporates greater than 700 drivable automobiles, in addition to 30 separate places to hurry round as you try to beat your pals’ Drivatars to the end line.
Not like the video games within the Horizon sequence, Forza Motorsport 7 hits 60 frames per second on Xbox One X, all whereas sustaining a 4K HDR decision. In the event you drool everytime you see a supercar rushing throughout a observe or bask within the reflection of its paint, there is no such thing as a higher place to do it than Forza Motorsport 7.
Learn our full Forza Motorsport 7 assessment
Killer Intuition (additionally on PC)
Uncommon’s Killer Intuition preventing sequence had been dormant for years earlier than the launch of the Xbox One in 2013, however the studio revived it to large success. The fast-paced and difficult-to-master fighter contains the entire greatest characters from the franchise’s historical past, together with Cinder, Jago, Glacius, and Sabrewulf, alongside Microsoft favorites just like the Arbiter and Normal RAAM.
Killer Intuition provides a implausible coaching system to point out newcomers the ropes, and the sport’s free-to-play construction helps you to leap in and begin preventing with out spending a dime. In the event you do plan on spending cash, the characters can be found in separate season packs, so you may select those you need essentially the most.
Halo: The Grasp Chief Assortment (additionally on PC)
The unique three Halo video games are among the many greatest first-person shooters of all time, delivering an exhilarating and emotional story that slams on the gasoline and by no means holds up. Halo four ushered in a brand new age for the sequence as developer 343 Industries took over and delivered its personal profitable imaginative and prescient, set towards a completely new type of enemy.
For many who haven’t performed these video games earlier than, Halo: The Grasp Chief Assortment bundles all of them along with visible enhancements, together with a whole overhaul of Halo 2. The entire video games’ multiplayer maps can be found, as effectively, so you may reminisce in regards to the pleasure of hours-long Blood Gulch matches with your pals, consuming pizza and chugging soda the entire time.
Learn our full Halo: The Grasp Chief Assortment assessment
Halo 5: Guardians
343 Industries additional shook up the Halo formulation with 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians, a sport that turned one of many sequence’ most beloved characters right into a villain whereas splitting the angle between longtime hero Grasp Chief and newcomer Spartan Locke. The marketing campaign units the stage for almost infinite prospects within the upcoming Halo Infinite, but it surely’s the multiplayer mode that basically shines in Halo 5.
For the primary time, gamers can use an aim-down-sight means to higher find their photographs with a number of completely different weapons, and new highly effective particular strikes can help you shortly change the momentum in a detailed match. The big-scale Warzone mode – which sees Spartans battling alongside autos in player-versus-player and player-versus atmosphere eventualities is only a bonus.
Gears of Warfare 5 (additionally on PC)
Gears 5 is a large enchancment over Gears of Warfare four, exhibiting The Coalition is greater than match to fill the sneakers left by Epic Video games. Ditching the Fenix-focused tales we’ve seen in all earlier numbered entries, the sport’s marketing campaign as an alternative focuses on Kait Diaz and her mysterious connection to the Swarm enemy that threatens to destroy Sera. It dives into heavier subjects than we anticipated, and to nice impact.
Nevertheless it isn’t solely the story that has been improved. The growth of talents for robotic buddy Jack makes fight much more strategic and interesting, and there are three alternative ways to play cooperatively with your pals. Horde and the marketing campaign each assist it, in addition to the brand new Escape mode, which is ideal for speedrunners.
Learn our full Gears 5 assessment
Titanfall (additionally on 360, PC)
The unique Titanfall manages to mix the proper first-person taking pictures mechanics of the Name of Obligation: Trendy Warfare video games with highly effective mech autos to create a multiplayer expertise so partaking and addictive, it’s straightforward to sit down down and blast away at different gamers for hours at a time. Multiplayer maps are constructed for verticality, permitting the human pilots to run alongside them with a view to get the drop on the titular Titans.
When your Titan falls from the sky and you’re taking purpose at different gamers with highly effective cannons, nonetheless, you’re feeling unstoppable, and you’ll even punch them out of the air to essentially allow them to know who’s boss. A sequel, Titanfall 2, can also be accessible on Xbox One and contains a superb marketing campaign mode alongside the multiplayer.
Learn our full Titanfall assessment
Halo Wars 2 (additionally on PC)
The primary Halo Wars proved console might deal with a real-time technique sport if given the right care and a focus, and Halo Wars 2 continues its story with connections to the mainline video games that assist to make it really feel like important. Armed together with your wits, marines, and extremely superior autos, it’s essential to battle towards a rogue Brute and his followers, most of whom are able to annihilating you instantly in the event you make a number of incorrect strikes.
Although the management scheme nonetheless feels restricted in comparison with what’s provided on a conventional mouse-and-keyboard setup, Halo Wars 2 is an exciting, cerebral technique sport, and its cinematic cutscenes are among the many greatest we’ve seen within the Halo sequence up to now.
Learn our full Halo Wars 2 assessment
D4: Darkish Desires Don’t Die (additionally on PC)
There are bizarre video games, after which there’s D4: Darkish Desires Don’t Die. The thriller story surrounding a detective investigating his spouse’s homicide may appear cliché and overdone at first look, however give creator Swery65 a number of extra minutes to point out you its weird core.
Largely happening on board an airplane, your interactions with different characters are among the many strangest and most entertaining we’ve ever seen in any media, and D4’s mini-games and Kinect integration make it an expertise not like anything on the Xbox One. Sadly, the sport was by no means completed, however you owe it to your self to leap in and see what’s attainable when an auteur is given free rein to do no matter he needs.
Dance Central Highlight
Kinect on Xbox One was largely a failure – you may’t even discover the peripheral anymore, because it has been discontinued – however Harmonix’ Dance Central Highlight is an exception. The kings of dancing video games created a extremely personalised model of the sequence for Xbox One, providing the bottom sport at a low value with a view to see additional songs on their very own, so you may pay for as many or as few songs as you’re excited by really dancing to. All kinds of tunes can be found, together with Sia’s Chandelier and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, making it the proper selection for when you will have a number of associates visiting.
Fantasia: Music Developed (additionally on Xbox 360)
Disney’s Fantasia is a whimsical and beautiful musical journey, and it has been reinterpreted to large impact in Harmonix’ different Xbox unique, Fantasia: Music Developed. Utilizing Kinect, you do a type of free-form dance alongside to hit songs – each classical and newer – and the remixes included utterly change the tunes.
It appears like a sport constructed from the bottom up for Kinect, slightly than having the peripheral shoehorned into it, and it makes us unhappy that extra video games like Fantasia weren’t launched through the attachment’s brief lifespan.
Learn our full Fantasia: Music Developed assessment