It’s been almost exactly one year since we saw the first developer preview of Android 11, and now Android 12 has arrived. Google has dropped the first developer preview for Android 12, which is bringing quite a few new changes to the interface and how your Pixel handles different tasks under the hood.
Over the past couple of weeks, there have been plenty of leaks and suggestions as to what features would be coming to the latest version of Android. But now that it’s arrived we get to see what all the fuss is about. It’s important to note that some features will continue to be added and/or removed as the developer program marches on towards its final release.
Faster and more responsive
Even better notifications in Android 12
One of the keystone features of Android 11 was the revamped handling of notifications. These included that all-new Chat Bubbles, along with the ability to get rid of those annoying silent notification icons in your status bar, and more. But with Android 12, it seems that Google is putting more focus into how quickly those apps can be opened from the notifications. Developers are now provided with new tools to make notifications more responsive and faster, along with a slightly-refreshed look with faster animations and smoother transitions.
Android 12 improves haptics
Whenever we get a new phone, the haptics for that device is always different, and it seems that Google is tired of the differences. Android 12 brings a new unified API for developers to make use of the built-in haptics for things like audio feedback or spatial audio. Imagine your having your device vibrate a certain way when you get a phone call, and another pattern entirely if you get an email notification. Now, it’s just up to the developers to implement these features, along with phone makers to provide solid haptics in their upcoming handsets.
While some smartphone makers have made great strides to improve how quickly updates are rolled out, there are others that are seriously lacking. One example of this is the OnePlus Nord N10 and N100, as these devices are only slated to receive one major software update, going from Android 10 to Android 11 (which has yet to happen).
Faster updates come with Android 12
You may have seen some new updates rolled out in recent months over the Play Store instead of being updated via the traditional ‘System Updates’ section in your Settings app. Google is expanding this in Android 12 thanks to Project Mainline. These integrations will allow for specific portions of the operating system to be updated through the Play Store, instead of relying on a full-system update just to add some features or to get a bug fix. Essentially, Google will be able to provide a more consistent update timeline for all Android devices, without waiting around for the smartphone makers to get their acts together.
More features coming to Android 12
As more and more OEMs continue to work on developing, manufacturing, and releasing new foldables (or rollables), it means that Android has to keep up with the times. Part of the reason why the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Flip 5G are so popular is that Samsung has developed its One UI software to take advantage of the new displays. However, Android 12 is bringing new compatibility features to optimize applications for various display sizes. This includes foldables, tablets, and even Android TV. With the release of the Android 12 preview for Pixel devices, Google is also rolling out the first preview for Android TV, making it easier for developers to create and update apps for Google TV.
There are some other new features coming, that are specifically designed for developers, including the following:
- Automatic media transcoding
- Full-screen gesture navigation improvements
- Privacy and Security features
- Toggle individual changes on or off to test app compatibility
When is Android 12 coming?
Google has released the first developer preview for Android 12 to developers to download and install starting today. For reference, the 2nd developer preview for Android 11 wasn’t released until March of 2020, meaning that it’s time to buckle in for the long-haul. Android 12 wasn’t officially even launched until September, so you expect to see the latest version of Android launch this Fall.
If you are a developer and want to get your hands on the Android 12 preview, then you can head over to the Android developer site and get started. For reference, Android 12 is available for download on devices ranging from the Pixel 3 to the Pixel 5. If you are not a developer, we do not recommend downloading the preview on your primary Pixel. Instead, you should just hang tight until the release of the Android 12 Public Beta which should come sometime in the Summer of 2021.