At Google’s annual I/O developer conference this month, the search giant unveiled a sweeping design overhaul of its Android mobile operating software, describing Android 12 as “private and secure,” a “deeply personal” mobile OS, and one that also now works better together with other devices. The changes unveiled ahead of the now-available public beta release include the “Material You” design, with its new color palette, new buttons and sliders, and a more fluid app experience overall. Among other changes we noted in our initial summary of Android 12, a new Google Assistant invocation method is available to users by simply long-pressing the power button to summon the virtual assistant. And there are also new privacy features in Android 12, such as phones and tablets run the latest Android release being able to show indicators at the top of the screen which will signal to the user that the camera and/or the microphone are currently in use.
In addition to all the other Android 12 bells and whistles that Google unveiled, meanwhile, including a refreshed lock screen and other touches that inspired Google to call this update this biggest design overhaul in Android’s history, there’s at least one interesting feature that has been kept somewhat secret, which Google actually didn’t announce at all at I/O this year. Spotted by Reddit user Kilarasx, it seems there’s actually a secret game mode tucked away in the Digital Wellbeing settings — and here’s how you find it.
Also reported by Android Authority, this Game Mode setting in Digital Wellbeing > Do Not Disturb > Schedules includes a schedule you can tap that, according to the Reddit user, then apparently takes you to a game menu with an optimization mode and the ability to conveniently record gameplay and stream the footage to YouTube.
This may not work or appear for everyone, however, since some users on social media have reported not seeing this or it not working. Even so, there’s plenty of time for Google to make changes, since Android 12 will officially release sometime in the fall, likely around September or so.
On a related note, meanwhile, for my money the coolest thing Google teased at I/O was Google’s Project Starline, a new video chat system that utterly blew people away — it lets you see an actual, 3D representation of the other person, such that it feels like they’re right there in front of you and in the room with you. “Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions,” a company blog post from Google vice president Clay Bavor explains. “You can talk naturally, gesture and make eye contact.”