23 Feb 2022
Google is all set to release the Android 12 by the end of this year. User’s expectations have always been high on each version released by Google and they do have a valid reason for such high expectations. It is the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, running on over 3 billion smartphones around the world, and has the potential to affect millions of users with just tiny changes in the OS, and standing up to all the expectations is always a task.
Google shared a broad timeline for the upcoming Developer Previews, Beta, and Stable releases earlier this year. The first developer preview of Android 12 went live on 18 February, letting developers take a look and analyze the update, the second preview went live on 17 March and the third on 21 April.
Just Before the third developer preview, Google officially revealed their new OS at its annual I/O developer conference on 18 May, launching its first public beta at the same time and went ahead to reveal the second public beta released on 9 June this year.
On 15 July, Google revealed the third beta version as well and it is live now.
Now, we will dig deeper into each of the beta versions released and what they have to offer its users and developers.
Visuals with Material You
Android 12 is coming with the most revolutionary design feature called Material You. Android 12 is being considered as the biggest UX change for the OS since Android 5.0 Lollipop so far. Material You allows the users to influence the design on their phones themselves. A lot of focus has been put on color and customization, allowing users to choose their own color contrast, element sizes, line widths, and more.
Here, we are getting a Wallpaper-based UX Theme. In the Wallpaper- based UX Theme, the OS will use a color extraction protocol to lift design elements of the wallpaper installed on your phone. This means that colors across the whole system will change depending on your home/lock screen background, sounds interesting, right? This will definitely give a unique feel to your phone.
This feature is currently available for only Pixel phones, hence there is a good chance of exploring and accessing Android 12’s new color palette feature and redesigned widgets. That means based on your new wallpaper image, the OS will pick the dominant colors and adjust the rest of your phone’s system colors according to it. This feature will eventually roll out to other phones as well.
Enhanced Notification Tray
The notification tray is redesigned. If you pull down the notification shade, you’re probably used to seeing round quick settings icons at the top of the panel, those round icons are gone. In their place, we have rounded rectangles and larger ones. Not only are the Quick Settings icons larger but they are more colorful now.
Not just design is improved but Android 12 lets you do a lot more with that menu, including accessing Google Pay and Home Controls for connected devices. In fact, according to sources, you will be able to control practically the entire operating system with a swipe and a tap.
New Privacy Features
We are getting a lot in terms of privacy and security along with design and new-look & feel. These privacy features for Android 12 are to make data collection by apps more transparent.
The First one is a new Privacy Dashboard, which is intended to be a place for all of your data privacy which lets you know what data was accessed, when, and by which apps – with the option to revoke app permissions right there and then as per your convenience.
Another thing that you’ll notice is that a new visual indicator that has been added to the top menu bar to show when an app is accessing your camera or microphone, and you will be able to swipe down from the top of the screen to view your quick settings panel and turn access off right there.
Android 12 also brings a new setting that will let you share your approximate location with the app instead of your precise location. With this feature, you can give more vague location data to apps that don’t need to know exactly where you are.
Your phone as your car key
Using a combination of NFC and UWB (ultra-wideband) technology, you’ll be able to use your phone as a secure key to lock, unlock, or start your car. Google announced that it is partnering with several smartphone companies to establish an industry-wide standard that will help you unlock your car using your phone. But this feature will be coming to only selected Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones later this year. The feature is initially coming to BMW cars but we can expect other manufacturers to adopt the feature as well.
Android 12 finally supports scrollable screenshots. It will allow us to capture an entire conversation or webpage in a single screenshot. It will be handy as longer screens and chat windows will no longer need to be clipped with individual screenshots. This feature was meant to be in the Android 11 update but due to the COVID-crisis and limited resources, the feature didn’t get a stable release.
Access Google Assistant with a press
Now, you will be able to access Google Assistant with a long press on the power button.
Quick tape gesture
This feature has been in the works since Android 11. It used to be called “Double-tap”. Once this feature is activated, it lets you double-tap on the back of your phone to take a screenshot, play or pause media, trigger Google Assistant and open an app of your choice as well.
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One- Hand Mode
For big-screen phone users who usually face difficulty in using their phone with one hand, this feature can be a blessing as it will allow you to operate your phone with one hand. Although this feature is already available on most android devices, it will be included in Google’s official release this time. You will be able to activate this feature with these simple steps- go to Settings > System > Gestures > One-Handed Mode and slide the switch to the On position. Once you activate this feature, just swipe down anywhere at the bottom of your screen and it will bring the top half of the display downwards.
Android TV Remote
Just like your phone can be a key to your car, it can become a remote for your Android TV as well. With that being said, all the Android 12 phones will be able to operate as a TV remote for all Android TV devices. It will allow you to use your phone’s microphone for voice search, or type using the phone keyboard as well.
On-device search using AppSearch
This feature will make it easier to search for things on your android device. Google is all set to introduce AppSearch which is an on-device search engine that will let you search for content inside the app even when the device is offline. Apps can use AppSearch to offer custom in-app search capabilities, allowing users to search for content even while offline.
To get a quick idea about it, Let’s say the user wants to listen to a song. When the user searches for a song by title or artist name, the application simply passes the request to AppSearch to quickly and efficiently retrieve matching songs. The application surfaces the results, allowing its users to quickly start playing their favorite songs.
This feature will allow you to put those apps into a “hibernation” state which is not actively being used. Apps in the hibernated status will optimize their storage usage, and their permissions will be revoked as well.
Apps that were not used for several months will be put into this “hibernation” state, although users can quickly toggle this feature on and off if they don’t want their unused apps to go into hibernation. Once you start using the app normally, the app will come out of hibernation.
It saves your phone’s storage from wasting and slowing down your phone because of unused apps.
Using gyro-sensors with facial recognition, Android 12 will determine when should be rotated i.e it will utilize the front camera to help the system know when to rotate the screen. This will help in less frequent rotation while the user is lying down and want the phone to be in portrait. The facial recognition will also be processed on-device i.e. Private Computer Core, so images are never stored or sent off the device, which will make this feature secure. The feature will only be available on Pixel 4 and newer devices in beta 3.
Till now we discussed the Android 12 features that are for users. Let’s know a few of the updates for developers.
This new API will allow the developers to make blurs, color filters, and other graphic effects much easier and more efficient. Now developers can achieve window blur with just one line of API.
Rounded Corner API
This API can help not to get the content clipped it will allow you to get information about rounded displays and position your content securely.
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The templates for the notifications changed again and several new features are here such as:
AVIF image support: Android 12 introduces support for AVIF, an image format that promises improved image quality over JPEG without the penalty of larger file sizes.
Compatible media transcoding: Transcoding layer to introduced in Android 12 that will let unsupported apps take advantage of video compression since not all apps can support HEVC. It comes with the ability for any application to play modern video formats. It allows devices to create videos in modern formats on devices and convert them automatically
Game Mode APIs
With the help of this API, developers can get the best frame rate possible by prioritizing a few of the device functions, such as longer battery life or better performance.
Restrictions on the use of the Foreground Service
According to the latest updates, Foreground Service can no longer be launched from the background, except in a few cases. Developers are encouraged to use the new Expedited Jobs API that has already been added in WorkManager 2.7.0. Android 12.
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Author: Tushar Saxena