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The first Android 12 features have already leaked

Published Feb 9th, 2021 7:31AM EST
Android 12 Beta
Image: Google

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  • Purported Android 12 user interface and features leaked online after being spotted in an internal Google document that’s supposed to be shared with partners ahead of the software release.
  • The leak includes imagery that shows the UI changes planned for Android 12, as well as new features designed for the next-gen OS version.
  • Android 12 will come with a mandatory privacy feature already available on iPhone, indicators that show when an app uses the camera, the microphone, and other sensors.

If it’s February or March, it means the next version of Android is almost ready to be consumed in developer preview version. This year, it’ll be Android 12 that will be released to developers in the coming weeks, with a public beta to follow at some point in the coming months — it’s still unclear whether Google will host an I/O event in 2021. As with previous Android releases, the main features will start leaking even before developers and beta users get a chance to test them, and we already have the first such leak. The first Android 12 screenshots and features made their way online after an alleged early draft of a Google document about Android 12 leaked. This is the kind of document that Google would share with partners in preparation for the new software release.

Obtained by xda-developers, the early Android 12 information does not list all the novelties Google may be working with. But it does highlight a few changes coming to Android.

The following screenshot indicates several user interface changes are in the works for Android 12. The notification panel UI will include an opaque light beige background that has no transparency. That’s before any customizations are applied. The rounded corners are more pronounced, the Quick Settings shortcuts have been reduced to 4 instead of 6, so the icons are larger. The date and clock have been swapped, as seen on the left. On the right, there’s a new privacy indicator that shows what sensors are in use.

Android 12
Purported screenshot from Android 12 documentation. Image source: xda-developers

If the privacy indicator seems familiar, that’s because Google has been working on the feature for a couple of years. It’s also because a similar feature is present on iPhone and iPad. Like on iOS, the privacy indicator will tell you that an app uses the camera, microphone, or other sensors. You can tap the notification to manage access to the camera and microphone. This will also open access to location sharing, with a toggle that lets you disable it. These privacy features will be mandatory in Android 12; they’ll have to work with any app that requests access to sensors and need to respect the same warning color code.

Images from the documentation that Google supposedly shared with others indicate that Android 12 will deliver some changes to widgets. One of the documents says that Google plans to make “conversation widgets” mandatory for all Android 12 devices. These widgets will include access to “People Shortcuts.”

That’s all the Android 12 information in this early leak, but more details will continue to leak as Google gets ready to release the first Android 12 beta version for developers. The first developer preview should be available on Pixel devices in the coming weeks.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.