I am a proud user of a Google Pixel 4–there are features on that phone that I cannot imagine being without. Only, thanks to the Android 11 update, I’ve had to do just that. When Android 11 was officially released, I jumped on it immediately. I’d been using the beta version of the latest iteration of the platform on a Google Pixel 3 and it was running flawlessly. The big difference is the Pixel 3 wasn’t connected to a carrier (it only had Wi-Fi access), so there were features I wasn’t actively testing. But then, those features so rarely break, so why would I concern myself with a SIM card on a test phone?
Because sometimes we forget that the primary purpose of a phone is calls. Forgetting that one very important thing caught me off guard this time around. So when my Pixel 4 upgraded from Android 10 to Android 11, the call screening feature wasn’t just broken, it was gone.
I use the call screening feature on a regular basis. This particular feature of the phone app is the single best way to avoid SPAM or otherwise unwanted calls. When a suspicious call comes in, all I’d have to do is tap Screen Call and Google would take over. I could watch the printed out conversation and, if I wanted, I could accept the call. Otherwise, I’d wait for the caller to hang up and then mark the number as spam and block it.
Easy. And it worked perfectly since the initial release–until Android 11.
Now, it’s gone. In a single update, a feature that I depended on was gone without warning. Others have reported this same issue. My wife’s Google Pixel 4? Same problem. It seems as though the developers have simply removed the feature from the platform.
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More and more bugs
Truth be told, that’s not all that’s missing or broken. I’ve also noticed that, since upgrading, my trusty Pixel 4 isn’t nearly as stable or reliable as it was under Android 10. For example:
Every time I unlock the phone, the display blinks
Sometimes the face unlock won’t respond
The app drawer doesn’t always open and sometimes requires a restart for it to respond
Android Auto is rife with issues (Calendar app missing, muted notifications, etc.)
When calls are connected, via Bluetooth to my car, the caller randomly cannot hear me
Bluetooth headphones can’t pause or skip to the next track unless I first pause and skip on the phone
Battery can randomly drain faster than expected
Not all text messages were migrated
NFC randomly stops working
That list alone should be enough to raise eyebrows. It should also have Google scrambling to release an update for the update.
This is the first time I’ve upgraded Android to the newest version, only to find it to be almost buggy enough to consider rolling back to the previous iteration.
Why did this happen?
Honestly, I don’t know. If I had to venture a guess, I would say the pandemic had Google rushing this update out the door without the proper testing. This was the last thing Google needed. Given the problems that have plagued their Pixel phones of late–although my Pixel 4 has been stellar (or at least it was with Android 10)–one would have thought Google to be more concerned about releasing improperly vetted products.
Clearly, the shortened testing phase for Android 11 has come back to bite Google where it counts: Their reputation.
I get it. Google felt the need to get that release out ASAP. After all, they were facing down the release of the Pixel 4a and they probably wanted 11 available for that release. But, rushing an operating system out the door is a recipe for disaster. Although I wouldn’t exactly call Android 11 a disaster, I would certainly call it problematic for both users and for Google.
During the beta period, Android 11 looked to be one of the most polished and finest releases of the platform. The fact that the official release took a few steps backward says quite a bit about the vetting process the operating system underwent.
What can you do?
More than likely, Google will slowly start releasing updates to fix all the problems that should have been dealt with during the beta period. Since that didn’t happen, the only thing users can do is frequently check for OS and app updates and, as soon as they are made available, apply them. I’ve been checking for updates on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the only updates to be had were those for apps that haven’t been negatively affected by the Android 11 upgrade.
However, I am confident that Google will make things right. They have to. Google cannot afford to have their flagship platform falter at this level. Considering the majority of people around the globe use Android, Google must make good on this sooner, rather than later.
Until then, I guess I’m going to have to keep rejecting unrecognized calls and hope I didn’t just give someone important a backhanded slap to the cheek.
Google, please fix this.