Android 12 is coming at the tail end of summer. The latest version of Google’s dominant mobile OS has a ton of new features, both stuff you’ll see and other things under the hood. We just got done with Google’s annual I/O developer conference and Android was the star of the show.
There’s simply too much to list here, but we’ve done our best to surface the most important information for you to view. We also got word of the Android Beta program for this year, with all of the supported devices to try out Android 12 early before the final release.
Expect a public beta to follow the Developer Preview as everything builds up to an Android 12 release later in the year. While we’re certain to hear more about the new version of Android when the first preview release lands, here’s what we know so far about Android 12.
Android 12: Release date and betas
Google used to tie the release of the new version of Android with the launch of the latest Nexus or Pixel phone, though the company has gotten away from that pattern in recent years.
The last two versions of Android came out in early September — Android 10 on September 3, 2019 and Android 11 on September 8, 2020. (The latest Pixels didn’t arrive until a month later in both cases.) Despite the pandemic interfering with Android 11’s development cycle, Google still hit that September mark.
That said, it’s very likely that Android 12 will also arrive in September this year, though there’s no word on that, official or otherwise.
On February 18, Google released the first Android 12 Developer Preview. With it comes a lot of new developer-focused features, including the Platform Stability milestone. Google wants to have Android 12 stable by August 2021.
As of May 18, the first beta of Android 12 is live for several devices, including Pixels.
Android 12: Features
While we can’t list every single new feature coming in Android 12, we can highlight some important ones. Google has more in-depth information for you if you’d like to dive deeper.
Some of these, we’re really excited for — others will be critical to the continual maturation of Android.
New UI: The biggest change to Android in several years arrives with Android 12. We’re getting a whole new Material You UI and it’s very exciting. Not only does the system pull accent colors from your wallpaper for a light theming, but the notification shade and Quick Settings are wholly new. Animations are smoother and it all looks quite good.
Better performance and power efficiency: Thanks to under-the-hood improvements, Google says that it has reduced the CPU time needed for core system services by up to 22% and the use of big cores by the system server by up to 15%. This should result in more responsiveness in day-to-day use as well as longer battery life.
Quick Settings improvements: Android 12 lets you do a mot more from the Quick Settings menu, including accessing Google Pay and Home Controls. In fact, Google claims that you can control “practically the entire operating system with a swipe and a tap.”
Privacy: Google is taking a hard and fast approach to privacy with Android 12. While we haven’t seen something on the level of App Tracking in iOS 14.5, we are seeing Google take things more seriously.
There’s a new privacy dashboard where you can see what apps accessed which permissions. It’s brings in a bit of design from Google Fit of all things for the timeline and it looks quite exciting if you’re concerned with what your apps are doing.
In that same vein, there’s a new indicator that pops up on the screen if an app is using your mic and/or camera. There are also two new buttons in the Quick Settings if you’d like to temporarily revoke those permissions with a simple toggle.
You can also share an approximate location with apps instead of a precise one. Google also talked about the Privacy Compute Core, which lets your phone use AI functions like Smart Reply, Live Caption, and Now Playing without touching your data and sending it somewhere else to be processed.Md
Scrolling screenshots: It’s here, finally! Android 12 supports scrolling screenshots, letting you capture more in one go instead of having to resort to multiple images.
Android 12: What devices will it support?
Having an exhaustive list of every phone that will receive Android 12 is a nearly impossible task, but you can count on Google’s own Pixel phones getting the software first, including the upcoming Google Pixel 6.
Unfortunately, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will not receive Android 12; Android 11 was their last update. That means the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are next on the chopping block, making Android 12 potentially their last hurrah. Of all Pixels currently available, here are the ones we think will get Android 12 when it comes out:
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3a XL
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 4 XL
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4a 5G
- Pixel 5
Obviously, the upcoming Pixel 6 will likely ship with Android 12 pre-installed. If we get a Pixel 5a or Pixel 5 Pro this year, you can add that to the list of Pixels getting Android 12, too.
In recent years, Google has made the next version of Android available as a beta to some third-party phones. But that’s generally once the public beta comes out — the Developer Preview is usually an exclusive for Pixel phones.
We don’t know a full list of what devices can join the Android 12 Beta program just yet, but we do know a list of phone makers.
Android 12: Should you install the beta?
While the Android 12 beta is exciting, and good for developers to install ASAP to make sure that their apps ready for the final release, we don’t recommend that you install the first couple of betas on your main device. If you have a spare phone laying around, then go right ahead.
It’s best to temper your excitement, at least at first. Beta software can be a lot of fun, but it’s not intended for use as a daily driver.