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Android 11 DP4: ‘Recents’ menu adds ‘Select’ mode to highlight shareable text

Last month, Developer Preview 3 redesigned Android’s multitasking screen with larger previews and a row of shortcuts at the bottom. Android 11 DP4 today introduces a new “Select” mode that highlights selectable text.

The new Recents menu in Android 11 already provides “Screenshot” and “Share” shortcuts at the two bottom corners. That added utility comes with the removal of a row of suggested apps and the search bar. However, that change was key to making the app previews larger, especially for the “Select” mode.

Tapping the middle button sees Android highlight (in white) what text is present in the current app you are viewing. A tap will automatically select text and provide options to Copy, Search, and Share, as well as adjust.

Android does a pretty good job of finding selectable text — like Google Lens, though the highlighted areas are somewhat messy. You can exit this mode by tapping ‘x’ below.

This is a useful, more focused feature, but it’s oddly a duplicate. For the past several OS versions, you’ve already been able to long-press from Recents to select text, and that is still the case in DP4. The larger preview in Android 11 certainly helps, and making it an explicit mode means you’re more likely to use it.

The button was briefly visible in DP3 every time you opened Recents, but it’s now a rolled out capability.

Given that there are still three betas ahead, Google could make further tweaks to Android 11’s Select mode.

More about Android 11 DP4:

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: