Google today released the first developer preview version of the next version of the Android system Android 12 for Pixel devices. According to Google’s practice, the first preview version of Android is full of changes for developers. Android 12 has updates on how the operating system handles images, videos, and future security updates.
According to Google, Android 12 is about making the operating system “more intuitive, better, and more secure.” In this preview version, many changes only apply to developers, as in the case of many other early developer preview versions, there are not too many visual changes to the new operating system. However, there are still many small changes.
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Android 12 notifications
Google changed the appearance of the Android notification user interface again, and notifications now have a more modern look. They occupy the same space in the notification center as before, but the layout and font size has changed.
Google has added a convenient small snooze icon in the lower right corner of each notification. Tap it to quickly snooze the notification for one hour, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or two hours.
In addition, the backgrounds of notifications and quick settings have also changed colors. The backgrounds of Android 11 notifications and quick settings are pure white or pure black, and the background depends on your system theme. The background of Android 12 has a blue hue. It is not entirely clear why this change occurred. Perhaps this may be part of Google’s rumored Android 12 theme revision.
Google said that in Android 12, opening apps from notifications will be faster. Google said that this change only applies to apps targeting Android 12.
This is a very early developer preview. Normally, pulling down the notification shadow will apply a dim bottom layer, allowing you to see your notifications more clearly. In Android 12, the dimming is almost gone, causing you to see the above deformity when you pull down the notification on the settings menu.
Some parts of the settings menu have also been slightly adjusted visually. The search bar at the top no longer extends all the way to the right side of the screen. It’s a bit smaller now, and the profile icon on the right has been enlarged.
New safety and emergency settings can be found in the settings menu. This new section allows you to quickly obtain emergency information (contact details, medical details, etc.). In addition, there are car accident detection, crisis reminders, wireless emergency reminders and new emergency SOS functions. The emergency SOS function allows you to quickly press the power button five or more times to trigger an emergency action.
By default, the emergency SOS function is set to dial 911, but this number can be changed. However, if you enter a non-emergency number, your phone must be unlocked to use it.
In future versions, the settings menu may get a greater transformation. Mishaal Rahman of XDA has discovered a one-handed mode that can be enabled via a feature flag on some Pixel devices. Basically apply a layout similar to Samsung One UI to the settings menu, with a large text title and layout, which should be easier to use on large screen devices.
Quick settings panel
If you don’t like certain media players to appear in your quick settings panel, you can now turn it off individually. This can be achieved through a new option in the sound and vibration settings menu, for example, if you don’t want YouTube to appear in the quick settings, but want to keep Spotify, you can do this now.
In addition, in the lock screen and quick settings menu, Google has made media notifications bigger. Now, the song name and artist are displayed on a single line at the top of the notification. At the same time, the player is controlled at the bottom and the album cover is on the left, which looks more compact than before.
Other new features in Android 12
Android 11 already allows easier Wi-Fi tethering, but Android 12 makes it easier. Now, if you want to share your Wi-Fi network with someone, just click the “Nearby” button that now appears on the Wi-Fi network sharing screen. This will use Android’s nearby sharing feature to send Wi-Fi credentials to anyone you want.
In addition, XDA’s Mishaal Rahman pointed out that Android 12 does have scrolling screenshot support, but it has not yet been enabled.
Important Android 12 features you can’t see
As always, there are many developer-centric changes in this early version.
Tactile coupled audio effects
In Android 12, Google will add support for tactile coupled audio effects through the vibration motor of the phone. By using this tool, developers will be able to create a more immersive game and audio experience from the vibration intensity and frequency derived from the audio session. Examples given by Google are video call applications that use custom ringtones to identify callers through tactile feedback, or a racing game that simulates rough terrain through vibration.
Improved Android 12 gesture navigation in immersive mode
When watching full-screen videos, games, or reading books, the immersive mode is activated. Usually, the default gesture navigation of the Android system requires the user to swipe in from the side and then return to the previous screen again. Now, in situations such as a video viewer or photo library, the second swipe is no longer necessary: the new default values for these situations in Android 12 allow you to return with just one swipe.
Google said it is still protecting applications from accidental gestures, but this should make exiting the full-screen experience less cumbersome. You can try it yourself, view the photos in Google Photos in full-screen mode, and then swipe back from the side, which is much simpler than before.
Project mainline improvement
In Android 12, Google added the Android Runtime (ART) module to the Project Mainline. By adding this module, Google can release improvements to runtime performance, manage memory, and make Kotlin operations faster without the need for a comprehensive system update.
Provide HEVC support for unsupported applications
Thanks to the built-in hardware encoders in mobile devices, many camera applications can now shoot in HEVC format. Some applications do not support this format. For these applications, Google will introduce compatible media transcoding in Android 12, even if the application does not support HEVC, files can be transcoded to AVC format. Google stated that the transcoding process takes time: it takes about 9 seconds to transcode a 30fps 1 minute 1080p video on Pixel 4. It will be very easy for developers to choose to join the transcoding service.
AVIF image support for Android 12
Android 12 introduced support for the AV1 image file format (AVIF). This image format uses video compression for intra-encoded content. In theory, compared with JPEG images, the image quality can be “greatly” improved under the same file size.
Easier to insert rich content in the application
Google is making apps easier to move and receive rich content such as pictures, videos, and audio files. Android 12 introduces a unified API that allows apps to accept content from any source, whether it’s the clipboard, keyboard, or drag and drop. Through a new interface called OnReceiveContentListener, the application will get a callback when content is inserted from other sources. This interface is where all content insertion is handled, regardless of a content type.
Multi-channel audio improvements
Android 12 adds support for MPEG-H playback, and supports pass-through and uninstall modes. In addition, the audio mixer, replayer and effector are also optimized to support up to 24 channels.
Optimization of front desk services
Android 12 will prevent apps targeting Android 12 from starting foreground services from the background. To help achieve this, Google introduced a new expedited job in JobScheduler, which can get an elevated process priority and run it immediately, regardless of battery limitations. This should result in fewer applications being killed and application performance more stable. Android 12 will also delay some foreground service notifications by 10 seconds, giving short tasks a chance to complete before the notification is displayed.
When will Google release Android 12?
Google has released a tentative Android 12 release date schedule for all developer preview and beta versions. Google arranged three developer previews: once in February, once in March, and once in April. There will be four betas, starting in May and ending in August.
The “platform stability” identifier is listed as Android 12 beta 4 and the final version. At this time, Google plans to begin final compatibility testing of applications, SDKs and libraries.
As for the final Android 12 release date, Google did not give us much hint. It may be fully launched at the end of August, or Android 12 may not be fully launched until early September to mid-September.
Google launched the first Android 11 developer preview version on February 19, 2020, the first beta version on June 10, 2020, and the full version of the operating system on September 8, 2020. The company has always strictly adhered to its development preview release schedule, and with this in mind, it is expected that Android 12 will arrive on time.