Android 12’s New Gaming Features Are Finally Catching Up

Android 12’s New Gaming Features Are Finally Catching Up
Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo

As the launch day for Android 12 rapidly approaches, so does Google’s announcements about upcoming features to get people excited about the update. The company today teased some new gaming features that sound pretty cool, namely that the next version of Android will let you start to play a game as you’re downloading it.

The news comes via the Google for Games Developer Summit 2021, a conference the company hosts for developers interested in publishing to its platforms. The keynote noted the new service will allow you to “get into gameplay in seconds while game assets are downloaded intelligently in the background.”

Since the play-as-you-download feature isn’t quite ready for the public, Google offered an example animation with a 127MB BMX-style game showing it’s ready to play after just 20% of its data has been downloaded.

The new play-as-you-download feature in Android 12 will make playing a new game almost an instant action. (Gif: Google) The new play-as-you-download feature in Android 12 will make playing a new game almost an instant action. (Gif: Google)

Playing a game as you download it isn’t a new concept in the gaming world. It hasn’t been applied to Android apps until now, however, because of the relatively small size of mobile games compared to console games. Once you start a download, you’ll see a progress bar on the Play Store page, and a button will pop up as the game is ready to play. If it’s not, you’ll stay on that app’s Play Store page until it’s ready. From the sounds of it, you’ll still need an ample connection to pull the game and its assets down from the cloud.

Google also announced it’s adding a new game dashboard to Android 12, a launcher feature that manufacturers like OnePlus, Samsung, and Asus have long included in their respective Android offerings.

I personally use a OnePlus 9 to play Pokémon Go because of how easy it is to screen record an epic evolution. Google will start offering a similar feature called Game Mode API. The overlay offers an easy-access button for getting in and out of screen recordings, a frame-rate monitor, a Do Not Disturb toggle, and a way to adjust the device’s brightness without having to drag down the notification shade. XDA found options to a shortcut that live-streams your gameplay to YouTube, as well as a performance and battery saver mode, and a widget that displays your stats.

This will likely be a Pixel-first feature since other phone makers have their offerings, and Pixel devices are typically the first to get the software updates.

Want to know what else you can expect from Android 12? Check out our hands-on with the developer beta and some of our early favourite features.