While much of the public using Android waits for an update to Android 11, Google is already deep in the trenches working on the next version: Android 12. Today we get our first look at what’s on. it has in store, with the launch of the Android Developer Preview 12.
As the name suggests, this is a version intended specifically for developers, who can use this version to start building their apps and software experiences to be ready for the official release of Android 12 later. this year. Nothing here is final, and much of it is still in the early stages of development, but there are plenty of little hints and glimpses of what we can expect in terms of design and functionality when Android 12 is fully baked.
A refresh of the interface and an improvement in performance
The interface is the most important thing that people care about. It is subsequently the part of Android 12 of which we know the less about. Much of the interface changes won’t be seen until we get a few more releases on the road, likely with beta in May. So what we have today is most Android 11 – plus a few small tweaks that Google puts forward for developers early on.
The notification shade has received the biggest changes, though that’s not what we’ve seen previously in recent leaks. Google says notifications are “more modern, easier to use and more functional” – the translation being that Google exercises control over notifications to ensure they are more consistent. Each notification now has a fixed frame with an icon, app name, and required expand / collapse arrow. You can also activate a dedicated “snooze” button to appear for each notification.
The overall styling of the notification area isn’t drastically different from Android 11 (at least, not yet), but it’s visually much cleaner and puts more emphasis on app icons (or photos of it). contact profile). There’s also now lighter transparency behind notifications, showing more background content through. Further down in the notification area, you can also choose the media apps that can show the media player in the notification shade – which is a nice personalization.
Developers will continue to be able to customize parts of the appearance of their notifications, with custom content options at the center of the notification. But this is a notable recovery from Android 11, which has given apps almost complete control to style their notifications the way they want.
On the deeper framework side, Android 12 is supposed to speed up interactions with notifications. Developers targeting Android 12 will be pressured into launching notifications directly into actions in their apps, giving “developers the tools they need to make notifications faster and more responsive”. On Android 12, apps will be stuck in using an intermediary service rather than having actions ready to be launched on a notification tap.
You’ll also notice this light blue tint all over the interface. That doesn’t seem like a design decision as much as the interface is unfinished and interacts oddly with eye strain reduction features. My phone sometimes lost the blue shading entirely when I was using it. Android 11’s system-wide theme options still remain and can be applied here as well.
One of the real “feature” additions available in Developer Preview is a new screenshot editor. After taking a screenshot, you can now add more robust markup, including text and emoji, beyond the previous drawing options. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to scramble Personally Identifiable Information … but at least we can at least mask phone numbers with chat emojis now?
Google also aims to improve the experience of using full-screen apps without compromising gesture controls. Android 12 is said to have better accidental rejection of touch when viewing content in full screen, and in turn will now allow you to make explicit navigation gestures when you intend to. This will prevent you from making an awkward tapping or sliding to activate gesture navigation.
Starting with the notification shade and beyond, Android 12 “optimizes transitions and animations” system-wide. This is one of those things that is vague and won’t come true until later in Android 12’s development, but whenever it’s a stated goal to make the interface smoother, I’m excited.
In one different interface area, Android 12 also introduces a really cool feature: haptic coupled audio. Applications can now provide haptic feedback – with control over the strength and frequency of vibrations – that is synchronized with the audio being played. So your app can have custom ringtones that match the vibrations and audio, or your game can simulate different experiences, with vibrations perfectly matched to the sound effects.
New copy / paste framework for media
Yes, I really focus on copy and paste frameworks. This is actually a big problem. Android 12 includes a unified application programming interface (API) that allows apps to accept a wide variety of content copied and pasted from other apps. This means that by using the clipboard, keyboard or a simple drag and drop, you will be able to move plain text, styled text, markup, images, video, audio and more between them. applications. You will no longer need to download images, but search for them in a file manager to upload them to another application.
Likewise, Android 12 also introduces support for new media formats. and automatic media transcoding. Android 12 will support the AV1 image format, for developers who want to reduce the size of the images or increase the quality. There is also system-level support for HEVC video, which automatically converts to AVC whenever an application is not compatible.
New privacy protections
User privacy is at the center of all big tech companies, and Google is arguably playing catch-up with Apple in this regard. Android 12 introduces new user controls for personal IDs that apps use for tracking, much like what Apple just released, along with new user-friendly default privacy settings.
In the initial developer preview, I don’t see any changes in the “Privacy” settings page, so this framework must be forthcoming.
Prioritize application compatibility and updates
Seems a bit strange to say for Android 12th version, but Google is putting a new emphasis on app compatibility. This means that developers will be able to opt for the major app-related changes in Android 12, so that they can more easily navigate the reality of trying to target the latest version while still having a large majority of their users running Android 11 and Android. 10. This means that if you do with Android 12, this may not be as immediately noticeable in terms of apps taking advantage of the new features.
Google is making even more changes to improve Android’s update capability. Building on the existing framework of updates to the Google Play system (aka Project Mainline), Google added the all Android Runtime as a module that can be updated separately from the rest of the system. This allows Google to push updates to any relatively modern Android phone to improve app performance and memory management, without waiting for companies to update the entire system.
The existing Google Play system update modules are also getting more and more extensive, which is nice to see. For example, the new multimedia transcoding system, mentioned above, comes as a module update to earlier versions of Android.
Were still very A far cry from Android phones that deliver a consistent user experience across all businesses, but with changes like these we at least get more continuity and compatibility of app functionality from version to version. This is extremely important for developers and users.
When can I get Android 12?
Here’s the thing: As it’s supposed to be for developers only, the Android 12 Developer Preview is only available for a limited set of phones. You’ll need a Pixel (as far apart as the Pixel 3), and you’ll need to be comfortable unlocking the bootloader and flashing new software using a computer. This is, quite possibly, beyond what most people want to do just to play Android 12 for a little while.
Speaking from experience, these early developer previews are usually slow, incomplete, and lack most of the cool features you’re interested in anyway – so unless you have a noticeable reason to install it, you should skip this one. -this.
Fortunately, Google will continue to iterate on this software and release updates regularly. The Android team typically releases a new milestone every month, with a few Developer Previews followed by a public beta in May. When Android 12 arrives in beta, you will be able to install it over the air on Pixels and it will be a lot more complete.
Google is targeting August for platform stability, which means the fundamentals of the operating system won’t change for developers. We’ll then see the official consumer launch shortly thereafter, likely followed by its actual debut on the Google Pixel 6 in October.