Android 12 is here: Know what’s new

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It’s been almost exactly a year since we saw the first Android 11 developer preview, and now Android 12 has arrived. Google has dropped the Android 12 first developer preview, which brings quite a few new changes to the interface and the functioning of the system. It is important to note that some features may be removed and new ones added as the developer program progresses towards its final release.

Even better notifications on Android 12

One of the characteristics of Android 11 was the better handling of notifications. Among them were the new chat bubbles, the ability to get rid of the notification icons in the status bar, etc. With Android 12, it seems like Google is focusing more on how quickly those apps can be opened from notifications. Developers now have new tools to make notifications more responsive and faster, plus a slightly revamped look with faster animations and smoother transitions.

Android 12 improves haptic response

In Android 12, applications can provide haptic feedback associated with audio through the phone’s vibrator. Additionally, the intensity and frequency of the vibration are dependent on the audio, allowing developers to create a more immersive audio and gaming experience. For example, calling apps could use custom ringtones to identify callers through haptic vibration, and games could simulate rough terrain in a racing game.

The fastest updates come with Android 12

While some manufacturers have made great strides in improving how quickly updates roll out, others are seriously lacking. In the last few months, we’ve seen some new updates rolling out through the Play Store instead of being updated through the traditional “System Updates” section in Settings. Google is expanding this on Android 12 thanks to Project Mainline. These integrations will allow specific parts of the operating system to be updated through the Play Store, rather than relying on a system-wide update just to add some features or fix bugs.

Optimizations for different screen sizes

Android 12 brings new features to optimize applications with various screen sizes. This includes foldables, tablets, and even Android TV. With the release of the Android 12 preview for the Pixels, Google is also rolling out the first preview for Android TV, making it easier for developers to create and update apps for Google TV.

Enhancements to full screen gesture navigation

In full-screen apps, Android 12 will allow users to navigate their phones with swipe gestures, by default. The operating system will continue to protect applications from accidental gestures in these full-screen experiences.

Multichannel sound

Android 12 includes several improvements for spatially informed audio. Adds support for MPEG-H playback in passthrough and offload mode. Mixers, resamplers, and audio effects have been optimized for a maximum of 24 channels (the previous maximum was 8 on Android 11).

Other features for developers

There are a few other features that are specifically designed for developers:

  • Automatic media transcoding
  • Privacy and security features
  • Enabling or disabling individual changes to test application compatibility

When will Android 12 arrive?

Google today released the first Android 12 developer preview. For reference, the second Android 11 developer preview wasn’t released until March 2020, which means we will have to wait. Android 12 wasn’t officially released until September, so the latest version of Android is expected to be released this fall.

How to test Android 12?

If you are a developer and want to try the Android 12 preview, you can head over to the Android developer site. For reference, Android 12 is available for download on devices ranging from Pixel 3 to Pixel 5. If you are not a developer, we do not recommend that you download the preview on your main Pixel. Instead, you should hold out until the launch of the Android 12 public beta, which should arrive sometime in the summer of 2021.

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