Android 12 is on its way! While some devices are still waiting for Android 11, Google has already rolled out the first developer preview of the Android 12. The big news came on the 18th of February 2021 and we take a look at what we know so far.
Keep in mind that some of these changes may not make it to the final release, or the beta release. With that out of the ways, let’s see what Google’s latest Android version (Android 12 Snow Cone) has in store for us.
Android 12 Preview – 1
#1. Native One-Handed Mode
Smartphones have been getting bigger as the years go by and they’ve been a need for a One-Handed Mode for small hand users. Just like with many Android features, Google has delayed in adding them natively to the Android OS. Thankfully, we have it here! The new One-Handed UI.
It looks pretty much like Apple’s implementation and should be easier for iOS users who also use Android or choose to switch OSes.
Unlike other Android OEMs, Google’s implementation allows you to switch to a One-Handed mode by swiping down on your notification bar. This will split the screen into two-part, leaving the top part empty.
We’re just seeing this in the first developer preview and still unsure if it’ll make it to the final release. For now, it’s still buggy but it should be good to go from the Beta stage.
#2. Native Scrolling Screenshots
Once again, another sweet feature that has been absent in native Android UI. Scrolling Screenshots can be helpful in certain situations and we’ve seen some OEMs and Apps which offer the possibility to scroll beyond your current viewport.
You already know how it’s been used — on a webpage, chats, or any form of text or image that’s too long for a single screenshot.
Though some Android users (like SAMSUNG) have been enjoying this feature, Google’s decision to support it natively should make it a lot better and easier. At the moment, that’s not the case as it still has some glitches. And to get it working in the first place, you’ll need to use some ADB Shell commands which aren’t that convenient.
Some newer screenshot tweaks like swiping from the bottom to dismiss a screenshot can be used without having to go through developer options and ADB have also been added.
#3. Lock screen Redesign
Another set of changes we might see in this year’s version of Android is on the lock screen. Basically, it’s a set of new designs that should change the way we get introduced to our smartphones.
First off, the home screen clock has gotten a new design, making it much larger and more symmetrical than the previous iteration.
The clock moves up to the upper right when there are notifications while the weather widget alongside the date moves to the top left of the display. You should see these changes mainly on Pixel devices or stock Android.
#4. Floating Magnification Window
Magnification has been around Android for some time now. This could be activated by a double-tap on the home screen after toggling ON. But we’re expected to see new changes starting from Android 12.
The new magnification style is pretty dynamic and compared to the previous static implementation. This new iteration should enable magnification on the full screen and on some sections of the screen.
When toggled ON, you’ll be able to dynamically magnify a small section of the screen using either the full-screen window or a small boxy floating window that looks like a hand lens.
Certainly, a good accessibility feature which would make all the good if it eventually launches with Android 12.
#5. Notification/Media Tweaks
For the third straight year, Google tinkered again with the notifications shade. The changes were subtle as it’s much difficult to differentiate between Android 11’s notifications.
In this year’s version, we should be getting a new design but functionalities remain similar. The entire notification area is now smeared by blue which gives it a distinctive look.
Furthermore, the snooze option for app notifications can now be easily activated. Instead of a half-swipe on the notification to reveal the snooze option, it’s now available at the bottom right of the notification itself.
Not much of a change there unlike what we get with the media player and controls. The media controls have seen some much better improvements in terms of their theme and overall functionalities.
You can also decide which media player gets to keep their notifications for longer on the notification’s shade. You can toggle between your list of media players to keep, or remove media notifications immediately when you stop using the app. This is a nice addition that I think will make it to the final release.
#6. Settings Tweaks
Let’s take a look at the Settings menu because we’ve also seen some changes as is the case with previous years. You still get that blue tint similar to what’s visible on the notification shade. The toggles have seen an overhaul which; toggling a setting OFF will reveal a (—) whereas the blues remain when toggled ON.
This is most notable for stock Android and Google Pixel devices as most OEMs will most likely stick to their own skin-styled Settings menu. This isn’t a trivial change though as we’ve all gotten used to our device options. As is always the case, we might just see this feature, plus more, added to the final release.
#7. Under-the-hood Tweaks
As expected, much of this year’s changes should be under-the-hood. We’ve seen only a few user-facing features so far. Starting with one of the crucial parts, Google is still on the right track towards better privacy as it has been doing for the last couple of years.
There’s now a same-site cookie API available to improve security and privacy for Chrome users. Speaking of APIs (Application Programming Interface), they’ve been a few other additions as well. One of which has been added to quicken the speed of app launching from the notification shade.
It removes the lag that is often visible when launching apps from the notifications.
A new set of encoding has been added for better media consumption. We’ve got the HEVC encoding to help in better video decoding and also help some HEVC-recorded videos to play on Android devices without native support.
AVIF should be the new and much improved JPEG image format so to speak. They make images look much better with much smaller file size. And lastly, there has been an increase in the number of audio channels; a leap from the previous 8 audio output channels to 24.
Is Android 12 Coming to Change the Narrative?
I’ll end this here for now till we get the next preview. This is the first Android 12 developer preview released in the month of February. We expect to see two more previews in March and April before we see the Beta releases which will span from May to August before we get to see the final release in September or October.
Essentially, we get a newer release each month. And this year, the Beta releases have been increased to four. The second preview of Android 12 should be out later this month, stay tuned as we update you on the happenings in and around the most popular OS.