Android 11 chat bubblesSource: Joe Maring / Android 11

Google's goal with Android 11 was to improve upon a few key aspects of the OS that needed some polish, one of which being notifications. Notifications in prior Android versions have been very good, but in Android 11, we're introduced to a new feature that keeps important chat/messaging notifications on the forefront.

It's called "chat bubbles," and it's basically a copy/paste of Facebook Messenger's "chat head" feature that's been around for a few years. When you get a text, WhatsApp message, or anything else like that, you can now turn that regular notification into a chat bubble that floats on the top of your screen. No matter what you're doing on your phone, chat bubbles ensure you always have easy access to that conversation.

Check out all of the best VPN services you can use in 2020

How to enable chat bubbles

First thing's first, you should know how to open a chat bubble in Android 11. Thankfully, doing so couldn't be easier.

  1. When you get a new text/message, swipe down to view your notifications.
  2. Tap the circle icon (it's on the bottom-right of the message notification).

    Messaging notification in Android 11Messaging notification in Android 11Chat bubble in Android 11Source: Android Central

Just like that, your standard notification block is transformed into a chat bubble!

It's important to keep in mind that app developers need to add support for chat bubbles in order for them to work, meaning your favorite messaging app may not be compatible with the feature right away. That said, the goal of chat bubbles is for them to be available for any and all messaging apps you use — including Google Messages, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, Slack, etc.

How to use chat bubbles

Now that you have a chat bubble on your screen, it's time to start using it. Your chat bubbles are just quick shortcuts for conversations you're having in your various messaging apps, meaning all of the user interface elements for the chat bubble look just like they would if you opened the full application.

  1. When a chat bubble is on your screen tap on it to open up the bubble.
  2. Tap Manage in the lower-left corner to view chat bubble settings
  3. Tap the + icon to view recent bubbles you've previously used.

    A chat bubble opened up in Android 11Chat bubble settings in Android 11Chat bubble settings in Android 11Source: Android Central

How to get rid of chat bubbles

Chat bubbles are great for ongoing conversations that you want to stay on top of, but once said conversation ends, there's no need to keep that bubble on your screen. Thankfully, removing it is super simple.

  1. Hold down on the chat bubble.
  2. Move it to the X icon at the bottom of your screen.
  3. Let go to delete it.

    Chat bubble in Android 11Deleting a chat bubble in Android 11Deleting a chat bubble in Android 11Source: Android Central

How to change chat bubble settings

Using chat bubbles in the moment is great, and if you dig a little deeper, you'll find additional settings that allow you to fine-tune your experience with them. To do this, we need to journey into our phone's notification settings.

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap See all apps.
  4. Tap the messaging app you want to adjust the settings for.

    Android 11's chat bubble settingsAndroid 11's chat bubble settingsAndroid 11's chat bubble settingsSource: Android Central

  5. Tap Notifications.
  6. Tap Bubbles.

    Android 11's chat bubble settingsAndroid 11's chat bubble settingsAndroid 11's chat bubble settingsSource: Android Central

On this page, you have a few different options for how you want that app to interact with chat bubbles. You can configure it so that it doesn't use chat bubbles whatsoever, only allow certain contacts from the app to trigger a chat bubble, or have all conversations be displayed in bubble format.

We recommend going through all of your chat apps and setting things up the way you'd like, that way your chat bubble experience will be as seamless and enjoyable as can be.

Pure Android

Google Pixel 4 XL

Get chat bubbles (and more) ASAP

Chat bubbles are available as part of Android 11, and if you want to ensure you get the new software as soon as you possibly can, the Pixel 4 XL is for you. Whether you download the public beta right now or wait until it's ready for an official release later this year, Pixel phones get your first-in-line for Android updates before anyone else.

Have you listened to this week's Android Central Podcast?

Android Central

Every week, the Android Central Podcast brings you the latest tech news, analysis and hot takes, with familiar co-hosts and special guests.

  • Subscribe in Pocket Casts: Audio
  • Subscribe in Spotify: Audio
  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.