Without a Google I/O conference to align with, and plenty of other obstacles in the world right now, Google has decided to shift the release timeline of Android 11. We don't yet know if the end launch date has been "delayed" per se, because we never had so much as a month that it'd be released, let alone a specific date. But we know that things have been adjusted fromt he original plan — here's how it changed.
When Google first announced the start of the Android 11 Developer Preview program, things were slated to follow the path shown below:
Three "Developer Preview" releases focused on finishing underlying APIs for developers to write apps against, followed by three "Beta" releases with more user-facing features included, and a final stable release some time in Q3 (aka by the end of September). With this layout, Google would lock in final APIs for developers in May, and presumably be well into the final stages of development of new user-facing features.
But now, things have changed, as we can see in the updated Android 11 release timeline below:
Google has effectively shifted the release schedule by a month, adding a fourth Developer Preview release and announcing that the first Beta will come on June 3. We can then expect another Beta in early July, and a third Beta in early August. What isn't entirely clear is what this means for the first official release of Android 11 — Google still marks the release in Q3, but it will presumably be closer to the final Beta release considering the shortened Beta timeline. It says that this shift is focused on "ensuring that [developers] have the same amount of time between Platform Stability and the final release," but obviously there's little wiggle room for that to still be the case now.
It's a small delay now, but we should be on track for the same final release window.
In the short term, it's a small annoyance to people who want to get an early look at Android 11. We'll have to wait an additional few weeks for the first Beta release on Pixels, which typically starts to bring functional user-facing features to the software. But on the other end, there may be a benefit as the third Beta release could be even closer to a complete and stable build than previous years — so long as Google sticks to its Q3 deadline. But that also all depends on where Google is on its own internal feature development, and how much it expects to reveal in the Betas ahead of the official launch.
And what could this mean for the expected launch of the Pixel 5? Well, we don't know yet. Obviously there are other factors likely slowing down the development of the phone parallel to whatever's happening on the Android team. But the Android platform release is always ahead of the Pixel release for that year, with the Pixels usually coming in early October, so even with this slight change in the Android launch it shouldn't "push back" the Pixel 5. We'll evaluate that situation in a few months.
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