The First Android 12 Developer Beta Is Here

The First Android 12 Developer Beta Is Here
Image: Google

Google just announced the release of the first developer preview build of Android 12, giving us a few hints at what changes to expect when the software upgrade rolls out widely.

While this initial build is far from final and new features will surely be added throughout the spring and summer, this first Android 12 developer preview already hints at the features that will roll out officially later this year, including improved media transcoding, faster notifications, enhanced app testing, and a general emphasis on security and privacy.

In order to help support higher-quality media, Google is adding a media transcoding feature to Android 12 that allows developers to more easily convert videos to HEVC. To improve general image quality, Android 12 is also getting support for the AV1 Image File Format (AVIF), which offers better quality and smaller file sizes thanks to improved compression. And to help make sharing content even easier, Google is adding a new API that makes it so apps can receive rich content from your clipboard, keyboard, and more.

Support for AVIF should help improve image quality compared to standard JPEGs.  (Image: Google) Support for AVIF should help improve image quality compared to standard JPEGs. (Image: Google)

Google is testing out a revamped design for notifications that it expects to be more functional. This includes a new layout for the notification shade and faster animations across the board. On top of that, Google wants to make launching into apps from the notifications shade even faster, so in Android 12, instead of relying on “trampolines” to launch an app, Google is recommending developers use Activity triggers to launch into apps directly.

Here's what the new compatibility toggle menu will look like in Android 12.  (Image: Google) Here’s what the new compatibility toggle menu will look like in Android 12. (Image: Google)

In terms of app compatibility and stability, Google is expanding support for Project Mainline, providing more tools to help developers optimise their apps for tablets, foldables, and Android TV, and even creating a new toggleable settings menu for a number of debugging options.

Finally, to help support user privacy, Google is adding new controls for identifiers used for tracking, improved cookie behaviour in WebView, better protection against apps exporting your activity, and more.

For a full rundown, you can check out the Google’s Android 12 developer site here.

Also, while this preview build isn’t intended for the average home user to test out, developers and other power users can flash the Android 12 Preview today onto a recent Pixel phones (from the Pixel 3 to the Pixel 5) or test Android 12 using the Android Emulator in Android Studio.