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Android 12: Everything there is to know about Google’s next mobile OS

July 28th, 2021 at 12:10 PM
Android 12

Android 12 is well and truly on the way. The world’s most-used operating system was finally shown off at Google I/O in May, and it’s set to get a major refresh when it’s released to the public later this year.

Currently, Android 12 is available as part of a beta program, meaning that while you can technically download it if you want to, it’s still buggy, may not work properly, and shouldn’t be installed on your main phone.

Excited for Android 12? You should be. The new operating system brings a series of major updates to Android. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

The best new features in Android 12

Android 12 will bring a series of great new features and refinements to the operating system. Here are all the best confirmed features so far.

A visual overhaul

Perhaps the biggest change to Android 12 comes in the form of a visual overhaul. Android 12 is getting a new theming system called Material You. The system allows users to influence the design of Android. For starters, the OS will pull colors for design elements from your wallpaper, making Android feel more cohesive as a whole. These colors will appear throughout Android, and even developers can hook into the theming.

There are tons of other visual tweaks to Android. For example, there are new animations throughout the operating system. When you press the power button, an animation tears across the screen from that power button. Buttons, toggles, and so on, take up a little more room too, making them easier to tap.

One of my personal favorite visual changes is the lock screen, which now shows a large clock by default, and a slightly smaller clock when there are notifications to show. It’s a basic tweak but looks great.

New Quick Tiles

Quick Tiles have been redesigned too. Android 12’s Quick Tiles are much larger than those on Android 11, and rectangular with rounded corners — instead of just circles. The much larger size makes them easier to tap, but it also means that you can’t fit quite as many of them on the screen at once, which is important to keep in mind.

Privacy improvements

Google is improving on privacy too. Notably, Android now has a new Privacy Dashboard, which can give users a more detailed view of how apps in Android access information. You’ll see what apps have recently accessed things like location, the microphone, and more, and you’ll be able to tweak those permissions quickly and easily.

Android 12 offers better controls for location permissions too. Now, you can grant access to either precise location, or approximate location, which means that apps won’t know exactly where you are. Of course, some will need to know your exact location — but any that don’t now don’t have to.

Notifications

As is tradition, the notifications system is getting a few changes. Now, the operating system’s notification system looks better, is more logically grouped, and just works better.

Wi-Fi sharing

The update makes it much easier to share Wi-Fi passwords. In Android 12, you can share a Wi-Fi password simply by heading to the Wi-Fi settings and selecting to share through a QR code. It’s very easy to use and works well.

One-handed mode

Next up is Android 12’s new native one-handed mode. The feature is first activated in Settings, after which you can enable it by swiping down near the bottom of the screen. When you do that, the top of the screen will move down, allowing you to easily reach everything that’s on the display.

No more Power Menu

Google is getting rid of the Power Menu. After the update, holding the power button will activate Google Assistant — matching how users access Siri on an iPhone. The controls within the Power Menu are mostly moved to the quick settings.

Should I install Android 12?

As mentioned, Android 12 is currently in beta, meaning that it’s not yet working as flawlessly as it will when it’s released to the public later this year. We generally don’t recommend installing beta versions of software unless you’re pretty tech-savvy, and don’t mind dealing with bugs, or even the potential of your device not working at all.

If you do have a spare device that’s compatible with Android 12, and don’t mind dealing with the bugs that come with installing a beta version of the software, then it may well be worth installing the Android 12 beta.

Which phones support Android 12?

Eventually, dozens of phone models will support Android 12 — but during the beta program, only a select few devices will support the software. Other companies may hold their own beta programs. For example, Samsung has announced One UI 4.0, which is based on Android 12. One UI 4.0 will go through a beta of its own, eventually. Here’s a list of phones that support the Android 12 beta.

  • Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5
  • Asus Zenfone 8
  • OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
  • Realme GT 5G
  • Tecno Camom 17
  • TCL 20 Pro 5G
  • Vivo iQOO 7 Legend
  • Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11I, Mi 11X Pro
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G

When will Android 12 be released?

Android 12 TimelineImage source: Google

As mentioned, Android 12 is currently going through its beta, meaning that you can technically download an early build of the software right now. Between now and the full release, there will be a few beta releases, and each should be more stable than the last. In the end, we expect Android 12 to be released to the public around August or September. Here’s Google’s official Android 12 timeline.

How to install Android 12

Interested in installing the Android 12 beta for yourself? It’s not the easiest thing to to, but it’s not overly difficult either. Here’s an overview on how to install Android 12. For a full, more in-depth look for developers, head over to XDA-Developers.

  1. Head to the Android Beta Program web page. You’ll need to be signed in to your Google account.
  2. Click the button near the top to “View your eligible devices.”
  3. Click “Opt In” and agree to the terms.
  4. On your phone, head to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update. Check for an update, and download and install it. It may take up to 24 hours for the update to appear, so be patient.
  5. Reboot your phone to use the Android 12 beta.



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