It’s time, once again, to look forward to Android 12.
Google’s next operating system probably won’t be released until closer to September 2021. While we wait, we’ve rounded up a list of every rumour, leak and fact that’s come out about Android 12 so far.
We’ll continue to update this list as more information comes to light so remember to keep checking back for the latest info!
This story has been updated to include information from the third Android Developer Preview. You can read the full blog post here. It also includes information from Google’s I/O conference and developer betas as well as bug fixes.
Android 12 design
Leaked screenshots posted by XDA Developers have revealed some big design changes for Android 12. The images are said to come from an early draft of the OS sent out to developers.
The pictures show a redesign for Android’s Quick Settings and Notifications pages with more spaced out icons and extra privacy indicators. It also seems Google may be introducing a conversations widget to easily pick up things like messages and calls across different apps.
Beta 2.1 Update
Following the release of the Android 12 Beta in early June month, Google has just dropped the Android 12 Beta 2.1 update, which promises to fix a number of bugs that have been reported so far.
???? We released #Android12 Beta 2.1!
This patch release has a few fixes for issues reported by developers and users. If you’re running Android 12 Beta on Pixel, watch for an update soon or visit https://t.co/MASaM0SoWj for downloads.
— Android Developers (@AndroidDev) June 23, 2021
The major update included in Beta 2.1 is a fix for the annoying issue of not being able to unlock your phone from the lockscreen with a simple swipe. Although you could still use the fingerprint-scanning method, this was a major inconvenience for users and was quickly flagged as something that needed to be fixed.
According to the release notes, the minor update offers a number of basic improvements to the overall stability of the operating system, as well as the following key changes:
- Fixed an issue that prevented users from accessing things on the lock screen. For example, swiping down for the notification shade, swiping away notifications, or swiping up to unlock the phone. (Issue #190702454)
- Fixed issues that caused information such as weather and calendar events to not appear in the At a Glance widget on the home screen or lock screen. (Issue #190700432, Issue #190644743)
- Fixed an issue that sometimes caused flickering or jittery animations when accessing recent apps with gesture navigation.
- Fixed an issue that sometimes caused microphone and camera permission indicators to get stuck and disappear until the phone was rebooted.
- Fixed an issue when using the Android Emulator with an Android Virtual Device (AVD) running Android 12 that prevented the AVD from connecting to the internet.
- Fixed an issue where after taking Beta and resetting the device, some users are were stuck on setup wizard (Issue #190082536).
9to5 Google comes through once again with this rumour that a deeper theming system is in the works for Android 12. Apparently, users will be able to select a primary colour and an accent colour that will then be reflected throughout the rest of Android.
This goes deeper by allowing app developers to access an individual’s colour scheme and tailor their app to match. It should create a more seamless thematic transition while using Android 12.
This feature was confirmed at the Google I/O conference and it allows a user’s design language (aka Material You) to be adapted across devices.
A notifications redesign is also being tested, as per the first beta. It’s getting a new layout for the notifications shade as well as faster animations.
Google is also wanting to speed up app launching by encouraging developers to use Activity triggers to launch them directly, rather than using ‘trampolines’.
Android 12 Features
The third Android developer preview added some extra haptic feedback options.
The API’s are currently optimised for the Pixel 4 but support will be expanded to other manufacturers.
Google has also added improved camera support for quad and nona bayer sensors. This is said to help with imge quality and low-light performance.
New platform APIs for Android 12 will also help to improve these features for third-party camera apps.
Improved web linking
The third developer preview has also changed the way links (that aren’t verified though Android App Links or approved by the user) are handled.
They will now automatically open in your default browser. Previous a dialogue box would pop up.
Another new feature has added an ‘open be default’ option in settings to more easily approve an app for links.
If devs only want their app to handle links from domains they are can App Links.
A leak from XDA Developers suggests that Android 12 will hibernate apps that are not in use. The feature will apparently clear cache files of apps that aren’t being actively used to generate more storage space.
Google devs also hinted at ‘package level hibernation’ which could imply other tactics such as compression of apps to provide more space.
Storage space fills up quickly on phones these days as image and app files become larger and of a higher quality. So any shortcut to save space sounds like a good idea.
The popular, and frequently forgotten, double-tap feature could be returning to Android devices if the rumours are true. For unknown reasons the double-tap, sometimes known as the ‘Columbus’ tap, was pulled from Android 11, so here’s hoping it makes a triumphant return.
If 9to5Google is to be believed, Android 12 will bring back the double-tap gesture which will link to a handful of functions such as activating Google assistant, screenshots, pause/play media, opening notifications and opening recent apps.
App pairs is essentially a revamped version of split-screen. This function on Android 12 is said to group apps together as one task rather than pinning one app at a time.
App pairs will allow users to pick two recently used apps to ‘pair’. This should then allows users to easily swap between apps by foregrounding one app with the other running in the background. 9to5Google has a visual mockup of this if you want a better idea.
The developer beta has revealed that Android 12 is getting a media transcoding feature that makes it easier to convert videos to HEVC. To improve general image quality.
It’s also getting support for the AV1 Image File Format (AVIF), which means you get better quality and smaller file sizes due to improved compression.
Google is adding to its support Project Mainline to enable devs to optimise apps for foldables, tablets and Android TV. This will include new toggleable settings menu for debugging.
And on the subject of optimised the apps, the second Android 12 Developer preview has included the ability to write apps for phones that have round edges.
According to the second Developer preview, picture-in-picture viewing will be smoother in Android 12.
Apps will also have improved bandwidth estimates and it won’t be as difficult for them to utilise visuals like filters and blurs.
Android 12 companion devices (like smartwatches) will also be more easily kept awake with apps.
And as for calls, the third developer preview has enabled call notifications more visibility for easy interaction and readability.
The Beta 2 release has brought some updates to the quick settings menu. This includes adding device controls, a new ‘internet’ tile that shows your current connection and a new tile for GPay. Users can also access the account and power menus from the quick settings menu.
The Google Assistant is also getting an update, as per the Beta 2 release, which allows it to open the power menu.
Privacy and Security
Google is adding new controls to enable improved cookie behaviour, better tracking and improved protection when it comes to apps exporting what you’re up to.
The second Android 12 Developer Preview also revealed some trust features. For example, app creators will be able to require authentication from the lock screen and also ask Android to verify the integrity of an app that’s already installed.
App creators will also be able to stop system overlay alerts popping up over the top of their content.
The Google I/O preview also revealed a new privacy dashboard that shows users which apps are accessing data at any point in time. Similar to the iPhone’s orange dot, Android 12 also introduces icons to flag if an app is accessing your camera or microphone.
The Beta 2 release implemented some of these new privacy settings with a new dashboard in settings that gives a 24-hour timeline of what apps have accessed a users location, camera or microphone.
A new toast message within Android 12 will also show users if an app has accessed or copied information from the clipboard.
Similar to Apple, Android 12 has also integrated microphone and camera indicators at the top right of the screen to show when an app is actively using one of these features.
Third-party app stores
This news comes from an update in an Android developers blog post which says that Android 12 will improve access to multiple app stores. Android already allows users to download apps from stores other than the Google Play home base, but this is set to get easier in the next OS.
The post says “we will be making changes in Android 12 to make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices while being careful not to compromise the safety measures Android has in place.”
Android 12 release
Google has released its second developer Beta. If your Pixel is compatible you can opt-in for the beta program now.
Now that it’s Google I/O week a public beta of Android 12 has been made available. You find out how to download and install it here.
If previous years are anything to go by we’re expecting Android 12 to officially release around September 2021. It will first be available on Google Pixel devices.
You can learn more about Android’s brand new features here.