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

Android 12

Android 12 is finally here. The world’s most-used operating system was finally shown off at Google I/O in May, and gets a major refresh. Google has finally released Android 12 to AOSP, the Android Open Source Project — though you won’t get it on a Pixel or other device just yet.

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 Google’s next operating system.

The best new features in Android 12

Android 12 brings a series of great new features and refinements to the operating system. Here are all the best features in Android 12.

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.

Control your phone with your face

Android 12 includes a new feature that allows you to control your phone with your face. Android has long offered accessibility features, but Android 12 brings new “camera switches,” which let you control aspects of the phone with facial movements.

Should I install Android 12?

Yes. Now that Android 12 is out of its official beta, when it’s available to download on your phone, you should download and install it.

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 has been released in the Android Open Source Project, which means a release for specific devices shouldn’t be far off. We’re not exactly sure when the update will come out on Pixel phones, but it shouldn’t be long now.

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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