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The first leaked Android 11 feature is something the iPhone had for years

Updated Dec 3rd, 2019 3:50PM EST
Android 11 R
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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Android 10 is already rolling out to the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 flagships about a month earlier than even the most optimistic Samsung fans could have anticipated. But as we draw closer to 2020, we’re also nearing the next major version of Android, which for the first time in Google’s history won’t have a letter attached to its name. Rather than Android R, we’re getting Android 11 come next year, with the first beta likely to drop as early as March. With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see the first Android 11 rumors start to pop up, with a brand new leak saying the operating system will get a useful new feature next year that users will appreciate. Of course, it’s also a feature that the iPhone had for years.

Turn Airplane Mode on, and your smartphone or tablet will kill all wireless connectivity. But if you’re rocking an iPhone or iPad with cellular connectivity, you can turn on Airplane Mode but reenable Bluetooth back so you can continue using your wireless headphones or other gadgets during a flight. On top of that, the phone will also let you turn on Wi-Fi and AirDrop while Airplane Mode is enabled. And best of all, it’ll remember that you want your Bluetooth on whenever Airplane Mode is enabled. That’s a group of tiny but significant features that frequent fliers certainly appreciate.

However, over on Android, you can’t enjoy the same type of Airplane Mode functionality. The wireless connectivity switch kills all radios when enabled. Google will fix that in Android 11 next year according to xda-developers, which spotted a new commit in the AOSP Gerrit that’s titled “Context-aware Bluetooth airplane mode.” Here’s what it’s supposed to do:

Do not automatically turn off Bluetooth when airplane mode is turned on and Bluetooth is in one of the following situations:

Bluetooth A2DP is connected.
Bluetooth Hearing Aid profile is connected.

Wireless headphones are quite popular with consumers now that almost everyone in the phone business has ditched the headphone jack, so this leaked Android 11 feature will certainly make plenty of people happy, especially people who travel by plane a lot.

The feature won’t be available on your phone until early March, and that’s if Google decides to include support it with the first Android 11 beta. The final Android 11 release should drop on Pixel phones in August or September next year, with top 2020 flagships likely to get it anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after the Pixel phones.

UPDATE: Some of our readers pointed out that they can already use Bluetooth mode when Airplane Mode is active on their Android devices. While that’s true, the leaked Android 11 feature will prevent the device from shutting Bluetooth off to begin with. That means you’d be able to use wireless headphones uninterrupted while switching AirPlane Mode on and off. That’s already part of the iPhone’s Bluetooth functionality.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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