The new Android 12 version is here, well sort of, at least. To put things in the right perspective, Google announced Android 12 at its recently concluded IO 2021 event and is currently available to download as a beta version in some select smartphone devices. The fully polished thing should be with us later in the year, like around the September – October window. This means that we are likely going to see e-readers use the new OS by the end of the year.
Android 12 Developers preview and public beta
Before that, a clutch of smartphones has been selected to try out the new Android 12 Beta. These include the likes of the Oppo Find X3 Pro, Nokia X20, Asus Zenfone 8, OnePlus 9, and 9 Pro, to name a few. Plus, of course, there are the Pixel devices, and all Pixel phones from Pixel 3 to Pixel 5 qualify for the Android 12 Beta program.
In fact, the Pixel devices are running a slightly more advanced public beta build of Android 12 while the other smartphone devices are running the Android 12 developer preview version. Of these, the Oppo Find X3 Pro has been the first to offer the developer preview version while the Pixel 6, in all probability, is going to be the first to come pre-loaded with Android 12.
Android 12 features
UI with Material You theme
The entire Android 12 user interface has gone for a change this time, something that Google prefers to call ‘Material You.’ So, what you essentially have are buttons that are more rounded, colors of which there are more variations, and motions and animations that are a lot smoother.
Then there is what is being referred to as the color extraction process where any wallpaper you have chosen will lead to its most dominating and striking color being adopted for the rest of the UI elements. That way, the wallpaper will seem to be more in tune with the rest of the UI. Similarly, the widgets too have gone for a makeover and have taken on a more rounded shape.
Further, the widgets are also going to benefit from the color extraction process so that the most striking color will go on to adorn those as well. Similarly, the Quick Settings panel too has been overhauled and now plays host to Google Pay and other smart home controls.
Worth mentioning, the change as exemplified by the color extraction feature is similar to what we have come to see in Windows 10 for quite some time now. Nonetheless, it is a welcome change to experience in future Android smartphones and tablet devices as well.
Privacy and security
Now, these get a lot of focus during every developer meet and this year too was no exception. Perhaps, user privacy and security got more attention this year thanks to Apple upping the ante with its App Tracking Transparency feature where users have system-level controls to prevent an app from prying on you. Google can’t be expected to be that severe for fear of its ad revenue taking a hit.
Nonetheless, the Mountain View company came up with what it calls the Android Private Computer Core. That can be seen as the core Android 12 feature that will take care of the app and the phone is complying with all the privacy settings set by the user.
Among the highlight of the latest privacy push with Android 12 is the new privacy dashboard that will let you have a quick overview of all the privacy settings currently being applied. There is also a pie chart given that lets you know what info the apps have had access to over the past 24 hours.
Similarly, the notifications center too has been enhanced so that it now shows which app is using which phone feature. For instance, if an app is using the phone’s mic even if you are using some other app, you will get to know of it from the notification center, which also offers a way to switch it off as well.
This will be on top of the usual feature where the OS seeks your permission before an app is allowed access to any of the phone’s features. You will have the option to let the app have access to the feature only while it is in use, for just once, or never. Location info is another thing that too has been restricted so that you have the option to let apps have only your approximate location instead of pinpoint details.
These apart, there is also going to be the option to lock a specific folder with your fingerprint being the key. Further, when it comes to features such as Live Caption, Now Playing and Smart Reply, all processing such as that of the audio and language take place in the device itself and is not sent to any other server, which makes things all the more secure.
Also, similar to the Apple Watch unlocking the iPhone, smartphones running Android 12 will now be able to unlock the Chromebook devices.
With an Android 12 powered smartphone, you will not only be able to lock or unlock your car but also start the engine as well. All of this is possible thanks to the new Car Key feature that Android 12 offers. Also, unlocking couldn’t be easier than this as you just have to walk up to your car with the Android 12 phone in your pocket. The car will unlock on its own thanks to the UWB or ultra-wideband technology that Android 12 supports.
What’s more, you can also digitally lend your car to someone else without having to physically hand over the keys. You can set the period of time the car will be available to them and beyond that, the car won’t respond to their commands. The controls will get transferred to your mobile automatically.
- Android 12 will have support for a new AVIF photo format that Google said will have the same compression feature as JPEG but will have better quality.
- When faced downwards, the phone’s power button serves as the hotkey to Google Assistant.
- The Android 12 phone will come with an integrated remote and can be used to control any smart TV running Android.
- Android 12 will have support for third-party apps.
- Android 12 will be less system-intensive too so that CPU access for core system services will be reduced by 22 percent. Similarly, the system server’s reliance on big cores will be down by 15 percent. All of this no doubt will have a positive impact on battery life too.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad.