Mobile Technology

Google launches Android 12 with the first developer preview

Google launches Android 12 with the first developer preview
Android 12 is here ... for developers at least
Android 12 is here ... for developers at least
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Android 12 is here ... for developers at least
Android 12 is here ... for developers at least

Android 12 is here – or at least, the first developer preview of Android 12 is here, ready for app-makers to start testing ahead of a public launch for users later in 2021. The first developer preview for Android 11 launched on the same day last year.

The launch of a new version of Android is a long, drawn-out affair these days, from the earliest and buggiest editions of the code supplied to developers, to the finished version rolled out to users (who will get it at different times, depending on the make and model of the phone they're using).

With that in mind, it's not surprising that Google hasn't yet announced a lengthy list of new features for the next major update of its mobile operating system – there's a long time to go before Android 12 will roll out properly (it was September, in the case of Android 11).

Most of the upgrades Google has officially mentioned refer to under-the-hood tweaks: tighter controls over how apps can interact with Android, better video and image format support, improved power management, tweaks to the notification user interface, an improved design for bigger screens, and more tools for adding gestures to apps.

So far, so minor from a user experience perspective, but the most dedicated Google and Android sites on the web have been busy digging into the code of the Android 12 developer preview to find new features that Google hasn't announced.

9to5Google has found support for scrolling screenshots (for long webpages, for example), lock screen design tweaks, the return of the double-tap gesture on the back of phones, improved notification control, and toggle switches for quickly disabling the phone camera and microphone, amongst other features.

Over at XDA Developers, some analysis of the code has revealed intelligent management of notifications based on how you interact with them, some subtle user interface tweaks, widget stacks (similar to those found on iOS), a shortcut for making it easier to use large phones one-handed, a gaming mode, and a smart autorotate feature.

Meanwhile, Android Police has been looking closely at the developer preview too, finding easier management of picture-in-picture windows, tweaks to the dark theme and software theming controls, smarter notification snoozing, an emergency SOS button, and the ability to share Wi-Fi passwords with a couple of taps.

It's worth noting that a lot of the features not yet mentioned by Google are hidden in the developer preview code, and aren't yet enabled: there's no guarantee that all of these changes will make it to the final version of Android 12 when it's pushed out to the public, and the updates might be tweaked or removed (something we've seen with previous versions of Android).

If you're itching to give Android 12 a try, you can install the developer preview at your own risk if you own a Pixel 3, Pixel 4 or Pixel 5 phone – but we'd recommend waiting until at least the public preview, which should be arriving in May.

"With each version, we're working to make the OS smarter, easier to use, and better performing, with privacy and security at the core," writes Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke in the official launch blog post. "Today's first preview is just the start for Android 12, and we'll have lots more to share as we move through the release."

Source: Android Developers Blog

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