Android 12 release date, compatible smartphones, news about the update

Android 12 is already available in beta for developers. Google will deploy the final version on all compatible smartphones during the year 2021. Here is everything about the update of Android and the new features developed by Google.

Android 12 release date, compatible smartphones, news about the update

Android 12 is the future major update to the mobile operating system of Google. Since Android 10, there are no dessert or candy-based code names here. We can see a number to identify this new version of our favorite OS. An OS that will have the right to a redesign of the interface and integrate several features.

WHEN WILL ANDROID 12 RELEASE?

In April 2021, the Android 12 Developers Preview 3 beta is available. As always, Google will offer beta versions of Android 12 developers till the Google I / O, which is usually held in May. Following this, a public beta should be made available to users on a limited smartphone selection, including the Pixels. Several betas will follow one another until the official launch of Android 12, scheduled for late August or early December 2021.

WHICH SMARTPHONES ARE COMPATIBLE WITH ANDROID 12?

On the official release of Android 12, only a handful of mobiles will benefit from the stable update. Notably, specific Google Pixel models (the Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, Pixel 4/4 XL, Pixel 4a / 4a 5G, and the Pixel 5) are scheduled for an upgrade. The smartphones from third-party manufacturers will be served in the following days, starting with models that have participated in the beta program.

Usually, the latest high-end OnePlus are affected. Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, and Vivo manage to integrate at least one flagship each in the reduced list. Huawei will not be entitled to it, while Honor's situation is still very unclear. Samsung is accelerating year after year but is not the fastest at rolling out updates.

Smartphones that run on Android Stock or belong to the Android One program usually receive the update quickly, mainly if they are recent. It particularly concerns entry-level devices from the Motorola and Nokia brands. Some Xiaomi devices are also on Android One.

HOW TO INSTALL ANDROID 12?

Since the early days of the OS, Android updates have changed a lot. Now, these are almost transparent. They can be downloaded in the background on the smartphone and partly install on the device while the user enjoys their device. Updates are becoming easier and easier.

The stable version of Android 12 will be available in OTA (Over The Air), that is to say, that it will be automatically provided to the user when his device is ready to receive it. The beta is different, and the procedure changes depending on the manufacturer of your compatible smartphone. You need to sign up for an insider program to be able to download the beta. If you are using a Pixel, you can already install the beta by Android Flash Tool. You are also offered to download the official Android 12 wallpapers.

WHAT'S NEW IN ANDROID 12?

Android does not get as many new features every year as it once did. However, Android 12 still brings its share of improvements, some unprecedented, others inspired by what we already find on some overlay manufacturers, or the mobile OS of iPhone, iOS.

MANY DESIGN CHANGES

Google will introduce a radical interface change called Material NEXT. This new interface features a revised always-on screen, new clock customization options for the lock screen, and an all-new theme system that takes inspiration from the wallpaper chosen by the user. In particular, Android 12 offers a redesign of the lock screen and the notification bar.

On the lock screen, the time is displayed in the larger size, and we see that the time is this time located above the minutes. The date and weather information moves to the top left of the screen, previously in the center. On the Pixels, Google would also offer exclusive lock screens.

A THEME THAT ADAPTS TO THE WALLPAPER OF YOUR SMARTPHONE

Google has come up with a whole new theme system that is inspired by the chosen wallpaper. The system is called "Monet," about the painter of the same name. Furthermore, this theming system will apply the main wallpaper colors to several elements of the Android interface, including the quick settings panel or the status bar.

A NEW INTERFACE TO PROTECT USERS' PRIVACY

Google has reworked the Android interface. The update to Android 12 thus marks the arrival of a simplified notification panel and new indicators to protect the confidentiality and privacy of Android users. Google now displays in the status bar a green square containing a "camera" icon and a "microphone" icon that warns when an application uses these elements. Android 12 also offers a panel to disable the microphone.

The inspiration comes from iOS 14, which already warns its users when apps access their data. This will be the case in particular for the clipboard, readable by the applications displayed on the screen. It will also be possible to decide to deliver only an approximate location to the latter.

AN INTELLIGENT VIDEO GAME MODE

Google has also developed an intelligent video game mode for Android 12. Concretely, this gaming mode will automatically activate specific parameters of your smartphone (brightness, 120 Hz screen, do not disturb mode) as soon as you start playing. Android will save your preferences and apply them to all your gaming sessions.

ONE-HANDED MODE FOR SMARTPHONES WITH BIG SCREEN

Google is reportedly working on a "one-handed" mode for Android 12. This model consists of bringing the navigation elements within reach of your fingers in a single corner of the screen. Ultimately, the surface with which to interact is reduced by 40%. This accessibility feature is largely inspired by the one-handed mode already built into iOS.

SYSTEM UPDATES VIA THE PLAY STORE

With Android 12 also comes the installation of system updates through the Play Store. Android Runtime becomes a simple component of the Project Mainline of Google that materializes to finally overcome the slowness of the manufacturers offering updates to their customers. A component producer will be able to publish an update and make it available to as many people as possible very soon and simply without going through the smartphone manufacturer, not always quick to make the updates available to users.

Google itself is benefiting from this since it will be able to deploy its security updates on a large scale through its application store and without any intervention of the manufacturer. In short, it means more security and performance for Android smartphones.

Google can make Android more stable and efficient by creating the Android Runtime module the same for all devices. But it is unlikely to make such decisions because manufacturers would be much more limited in adding customization and functionality of the interface on their overlays. Android would become an iOS-like, a situation difficult to imagine in the short or medium term.

INSTALLATION OF APPLICATIONS VIA THIRD-PARTY STORES IN THE PLAY STORE

Google decided to open a door by facilitating apps' installation via alternative stores to the Play Store on Android 12. Amongst the alternatives to the Play Store, we have the manufacturers' application stores: Galaxy Store at Samsung, App Gallery at Huawei and the Amazon App Store, or the historical Aptoide and F-Droid.

APP PAIR

With Android 12, Google offers us a redesign of multitasking on mobile devices. With App Pair, sharing the screen between two apps becomes more convenient. Currently, screen sharing works like this: the two tasks rotate, and they are displayed on one half of the screen. On Android 12, the two apps will be merged into a single task for improved user experience and performance.

You have to quit the task to perform other actions, open other applications, enter the smartphone menus, and then return to the created task to find its split-screen with the two apps. It will be further possible to interact with both the applications simultaneously.

In its One UI overlay, Samsung offering a function called "App Pair." The user can create a shortcut to open the two split-screen apps quickly. It is not known whether the option was introduced in Android 12. What is certain is that we have an option to choose two applications to launch in multitasking from the task manager.

THEMES TO CUSTOMIZE COLORS OF APPLICATIONS

This update should also bring its share of aesthetic innovations. Android 12 could make it feasible to customize the colors of the applications via more advanced options in the themes. It would be a question of choosing the main color and another secondary, which would then apply to the system and the compatible applications. The possibility for customizing the interface has changed a little in recent years on the stock version of Android, aside from the native implementation of dark mode. This could help give it a bit of color.

The feature is still under development, and it needs to be tested. It is not sure whether it will find its place on Android 12. It is also likely that a theme allows the colors to be adjusted automatically according to the wallpaper mobile to create aesthetic consistency.

"HIBERNATION" OF APPLICATIONS

Android 12 will put all the unused apps into hibernation, a kind of hibernation. When the user has not opened an application installed on the smartphone for a certain time, the system will then automatically take care of placing it in hibernation. The app requires less storage space in this state and consumes fewer background resources, implying a performance boost for the smartphone.

It is possible to carry out the operation yourself. To do this, go to the new section "Unused applications" on the Information page of the Settings application. You must then activate the option Remove authorizations and free up storage space. The app cache will then be cleared and will revoke all assigned permissions.

SHARING THE WIFI NETWORK

To connect to someone's WiFi network, you know when you are not at home, you have to enter the password, particularly if the only way to obtain it is to look on the router. As of now, on Android, a solution to save time and comfort is to present a QR code from an already connected device. It serves to scan to obtain authorization to enter the network.

It is already much more practical but not yet very fluid, notably if a person doesn't know how a QR code will be scanned or furthermore does not have an application supporting it on their mobile.

Android 12 should fix this issue with a new way of sharing the WiFi network to a third-party device that is similar to what can be found on iOS. It could happen with receiving a notification when a new device is trying to connect. An option would appear on the screen to confirm that the device is authorized to access the WiFi network without entering the password. It also eliminates the need to be side by side to share WiFi.

DROP-DOWN SCREENSHOTS

The native screenshot tool of Android is quite limited. It allows you to capture what is visible on the screen. With Android 12, we could have an option to take a screenshot of an entire web page or an application, even if part of it is only available by scrolling. The interfaces of OnePlus, Samsung, or Huawei phones are already capable of this. The integration into Android Stock could make it possible to take advantage of it on models from other brands.

WIREGUARD VPN COMPATIBLE

Google added WireGuard VPN support to the Linux kernel that Android uses. Therefore, this new VPN protocol should be natively supported on Android 12. It is good news as virtual network services are popular now, both for confidentiality issues and data security, also, for the convenience of accessing content geo-blocked.

ACCESS TO THE APPLICATIONS NETWORK

While breaking down the source code for the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), an author from XDA Developers pitched upon the description that looks like a restricted network mode. Once activated, it blocks the sending and receiving of data to applications that are not whitelisted and which have not been manually authorized by the user to access the Internet.

The project seems to be in its scraps. It is not sure that this mode appears from Android 12 or not in a full version. Lines of code suggest that Android could use this feature in the background initially, without human intervention to enhance security, before letting the owner of the smartphone adjust this option himself in the future.

A SINGLE MEDIA READER

On Reddit, an engineer from the Android team explained that Google is looking to unify the multimedia experience on Android. It can be a bit messy because of the multiple possibilities available to play content. This can be confusing for the user since each reader has a different interface and functionality.

A single media playback solution that is based on ExoPlayer is under development, with the purpose of grouping all the crucial options in one place while maintaining its great ease of use. However, it is not officially announced that this ultimate player will be available from Android 12.

NEW API TO IMPROVE UNIVERSAL SEARCH

Did you find that universal research is a bit tricky with alternative launchers? Android 12 should put an end to the situation thanks to a new API that will standardize the search field for launchers to give it new features. Such as simultaneously searching for results on the smartphone, in the Google Play Store, and on the web to enhance its usefulness.

A GOOGLE PIXEL EXCLUSIVE

It is common for Google to reserve some new features exclusively for its Pixel smartphones. If they are successful and most Android smartphones allow them to access them, then these features may eventually land on other brands of mobiles.

With Android 12, a feature reserved for Pixel smartphones could be the double pat on the back. This is a new Motion Sense gesture expected on Android 11 but has not been made available so far. It was present on the first two versions of the OS reserved for developers before being withdrawn from stable builds. Google felt that too often activated the feature by accident since it was enough to tap the smartphone's back twice in a row to trigger it.

The firm has revised its copy for this year, and if the same gesture of double-tapping on the back is retained, the sensitivity has been reduced to reduce the risk of accidental activation. By default, this gesture should allow you to invoke Google Assistant.

But the user has the choice to configure it to act on their preference: take a screenshot, open notifications or the camera, access the task manager, start or stop media playback. Instead, Google has added a new way to activate the Assistant: it will be possible to hold and release the On / Off button before speaking your voice commands.

SOME OTHER NEW FEATURES ARE HIDDEN (FOR THE MOMENT) IN THE SOURCE CODE

Alongside the new features already visible in the Android 12 DP3, there are those that we should discover in subsequent iterations before the launch of the public beta. According to several references in the source code, we can notably mention the deployment of a new design language probably called "Material NEXT."

We notably discover Quick Settings revised from top to bottom, optimizations for video games, and an improvement in dynamic dark mode. You can check out all the features hidden in the Android 12 DP3 source code in this folder.

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