How to enable the Bubbles feature on the Messages app in Android 11


If you’ve signed up for the Android 11 beta program, you should also sign up for the beta of Messages so you can test the Bubbles interface. Jack Wallen shows you how.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Android 11 includes a pretty impressive set of improvements and new additions to the platform. One of those additions is the Bubbles feature, and it’s finally becoming a reality. For those who don’t know, the Bubble feature was teased in previous releases, but never quite made it to prime time. Bubbles are Android’s take on the Facebook Messenger Chat Heads interface. When you receive a message from Facebook Messenger, it appears on your screen as a floating bubble that you can move around, tap to view, and either leave it on your screen or drag it down to the bottom of the display to close it. 

The next time you receive another message, a new bubble will appear.

SEE: Android 11: The best features (TechRepublic)

Android has adopted that interface and plans to bring it to other applications with the next iteration of the operating system (11, for those who are counting).

The first app to receive this new treatment is the Android Messages app. The only caveat to this is that even if you’re running the latest beta release of 11, you’ll find that the included Messages app doesn’t support the Bubbles interface. 

What gives? 

Fortunately, the solution for this is quite simple. Let me show you.

What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need is an Android device running a beta version of Android 11. If your device doesn’t support the beta version of 11, you won’t be able to make this feature work (and you’ll have to wait until the full release of Android 11).

If you have a supported device, and have yet to sign up for the Android 11 beta (and want to), head over to the official site and sign up for the beta program. 

With that taken care of, let’s enable Bubbles for Messages.

How to enable Bubbles for Android Messages

In order to make this work, you must go to the Android Messages app testing page, in the Google Play Store, and sign up. Click BECOME A TESTER. After taking care of that, go to your Android 11 device and wait for the message to upgrade. If you don’t receive the message, open the Google Play Store on your device, click the menu button in the upper left corner, tap My Apps & Games, scroll down until you see Messages, and tap Update.

After the update completes, when you receive your next text via Messages, you should see it appear as a bubble with a message that you can turn off Bubbles by tapping Manage (Figure A).

Figure A

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Our first text message appeared as a bubble in Android 11.

Tap the bubble to read the message or drag it down to the bottom of the display to close it.

That’s it, you’ve enabled the Bubbles interface for Messages.

The Bubbles interface might not be for everyone, but if you’ve enjoyed the Facebook Messenger Chat Heads, you will certainly approve of what Android’s done with 11. If you’re working with Android 11, give Bubbles on Messages a try and see if you don’t wind up keeping it around for the duration.

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