It’s been almost a year since Google released Android 11, so you’re probably aware of what it entails. Android 12 is here – well, “here” in principle, since even Google’s Pixel phones are taking their time to get it.
Despite sticking to the ‘boring’ dessert-free naming scheme, Google has crammed a lot of new features into this iteration of its mobile operating system, more than we’ve seen recently, so we dove in and explored what’s new in Android 12 – features that will be available on Pixels very soon and that some (or many) may eventually make their way to other Android devices.
Android 12 has undergone months of iterative development, with a number of developer preview releases giving way to public betas, and now it’s time for the ‘final’ release.
While Android 11 didn’t have any major game-changing innovations, Android 12 introduces the most significant makeover in years – a completely new paradigm for approaching the user interface, thanks to its theme engine, which dynamically modifies all UI components based on the wallpaper you choose.
This is the pinnacle of auto-customization, and it’s where we’ll begin our examination. But that’s not all; Google has included a slew of new features in the update. The notification shade has been redesigned, and animations have been redone to feel more fluid.
There’s also a new Privacy Dashboard, indicators for when apps are accessing the microphone or camera, the ability to share approximate location information only, support for scrolling screenshots, new conversation widgets, and, of course, the notification shade has been redesigned – which has become a meme because it happens with every new Android release.
This time around, however, there’s also a very big redo of the Quick Settings tiles to go along with it.
Android 12 new features at a glance:
- Automatic theming system based on your chosen wallpaper
- New Material You design language throughout the OS and Google apps
- New widget picker in the Pixel Launcher, with new widgets for Google apps
- Redesigned Quick Settings with integrated smart home controls
- Fresh new lock screen and Always-on Display look
- Universal on-phone search in the app drawer
- Easy link sharing from Recents
- Extra Dim screen setting, improvements for picture-in-picture and auto-rotate
- Support for scrolling screenshots
- New Power menu, new setup wizard, and new emoji
- Improved performance and fluidity
- New Privacy Dashboard, camera and mic usage indicators
It’s worth noting that all of the new features we’ll be addressing in this review are currently only available for Pixels, and it’s up to the other Android device makers to decide whether they’ll embrace all of them or just a portion of them (or anything in between).
So, although we’re excited to see what’s new in the newest version of Android, we’re not sure how many of these features will ever be available on phones that aren’t produced by Google. This has always been the case with Android upgrades, and we’re disclosing it now so you don’t have any unreasonable expectations.
As is customary, Android skins that stick close to stock will ultimately integrate the most of these capabilities, while those that deviate significantly from Google’s approach will be the least likely to receive the user-facing items.
However, if Android 12 upgrades start trickling out in large batches, the under-the-hood enhancements should theoretically be available to everyone.
That concludes the introduction; we welcome you to join us on the next pages as we examine everything new in Android 12.