Five months after the release of Android 11, Google announced Android 12 Developer Preview 1 (DP1). While most of the changes are happening behind the scenes, these are the top eight user-centric features you can expect.
table of contents
- When will Android 12 be released?
- When will my devices get Android 12?
- How to install Android 12 DP1
- Add text and emojis to screenshots with the markup tool
- Scrolling screenshots might finally be here
- Redesigned (and larger) notification shadow icons
- “Double Tap” is Google’s interpretation of Back Tap
- New one-handed mode (similar to the iPhone)
- Send Wi-Fi passwords with Share nearby
- Camera and microphone privacy switch
- There is a (hidden) simplified interface
The first Android 12 Developer Preview was released on February 18, 2021. She was made for that Google Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, Pixel 4/4 XL, Pixel 4a / 4a 5G and Pixel 5.
after a Google timeline (see below) new builds of the next Android version will be released every month between February and August 2021. If Google stays on track, developer previews should continue through April, with public ones beta Versions of Android 12 hit consumers in May.
Google is usually pretty good at keeping to a schedule. Although the timeline above doesn’t provide an exact final release date, the last two Android versions became available in early September.
Once it’s publicly available, Android 12 should roll out immediately on every Pixel smartphone that qualifies to participate in the Developer Preview and Beta (Pixel 3 and later). Unfortunately, to Pixel 2/2 XL owners, it looks like your handset has reached their cell phone end of life and will not receive another major firmware update.
For everyone else, the launch of Android 12 will depend on the manufacturer of your smartphone or tablet. The speed at which your device is updated depends on two things: how old your device is and how reliable the OEM is. Android police has tracked and rated the best security update vendors, which can help you make educated guesses about your device.
In the best case scenario, if you have a newer handset, you should see the update after a few months. If not, expect the rollout to take place 6 to 12 months after Android 12 is publicly released (if at all).
Fragmentation is not Android’s fault, it is the manufacturer
If you own one of the compatible Pixel handsets, 9to5Google offers an excellent guide too How to install Android 12 DP1 .
Unfortunately you have to load the new firmware manually. If you want to wait (which we recommend as DP builds are extremely buggy) you can opt for the Android beta program as soon as it’s available in May and get Android 12 via an OTA update.
But for now, here are the eight best features that were introduced in Android 12 Developer Preview 1.
Android’s markup tool has always lacked the “artistic” editing features found on other platforms. Fortunately, with Android 12, Google gives everyone more options to customize their screenshots.
Specifically, Android 12 DP1 introduces new text and emoji options in the markup tool. Like text tools in social media apps like Instagram, You can choose from seven text colors and adjust the font size by pinching it in and out to enlarge or reduce it. The same customization options are available for the emoji selection.
Scrolling screenshots have been part of Android for years, but have never been officially implemented by Google. You either had to download a third-party app or hope your device manufacturer has the feature. While the feature isn’t turned on by default, it looks like screen scrolling is finally coming with Android 12.
As can be seen in the tweet above, once the feature has been activated, a “Scroll” button will appear after a traditional screenshot has been taken. After the tap, Android will track the length of the screen you are currently viewing.
As with many of Developer Preview 1’s features, scrolling screenshots are buggy and appear to crash when used. Fortunately, Google has six months to get the function up and running without any problems.
This is how screenshots work on Android
Unlike many of the user-centric changes from Android 12, the focus is on the visual overhaul of the notification shadow. While the design is likely to be ongoing, almost every icon in the notification shadow is significantly larger than its Android 11 counterpart.
In addition, Google has put the notification snoozing function in the spotlight. Instead of hiding it behind a half swipe of the notification, each expanded card has an alarm clock-like icon in the lower right corner. Tapping it can pause notifications from the app for up to two hours.
In 2020, Apple released a feature called “Back Tap” in iOS 14. Simply put, you tap the back of your phone two or three times to start an action. A third-party app called “Tap, Tap” brought functions similar to Android. With Android 12 DP1, the function comes natively under the name “Double Tap”.
Double tap can be activated by going to Settings> System> Gestures> Double tap. Once enabled, you can open the wizard, take a screenshot, play and pause media, view recent apps, or open the notification shade by double-tapping the back of your phone.
Unfortunately, the double tap function in DP1 doesn’t seem to work. We’ll have to wait and see if Google enables the feature in later builds of Android 12.
Here’s how to take action by tapping the back of your Android phone
A large smartphone screen is great to look at Netflix, but it makes it incredibly difficult to get anywhere near the top of the display. Google’s “one-handed mode”, which was found hidden with Android 12 DP1, is almost an exact clone of Apple’s availability mode on the iPhone.
The function works by swiping down on the gesture bar at the bottom of the screen. Immediately the upper half of the display moves downwards. Swipe up on the gesture bar to enlarge the screen back to its original size.
With one-handed mode hidden so deep in developer settings, it’s not clear whether it will remain available when Android 12 is made available to the public.
What is availability mode on iPhone and how do you use it?
Sharing your WiFi password is now easier than ever. In addition to generating a custom QR code that others can scan, Android 12 DP1 Near Share (Google’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop) has added a new feature that allows you to quickly and securely transfer a Wi-Fi network’s password.
With Android 12 installed, navigate to Settings> Network & Internet> WiFi and tap an SSID that you are already connected to. From there, tap the “Share” icon, confirm your identity and select the “Nearby” button. You can then transfer the credentials to any other Android device in the vicinity that has sharing enabled.
What is Android Near Share and does it work like AirDrop?
Privacy is everything, and Google is making it easier for you to ensure that none of your apps are accessing your device’s camera or microphone without your knowledge. 9to5Google found hidden quick switches for “block camera” and “mute microphone”, which currently have to be activated manually via a developer flag. With both switches on, you will interrupt access to the cameras and microphones, even if an app has permission to use them.
If you’ve used Samsung’s One UI Android skin, DP1’s hidden interface looks pretty familiar. The simplified user interface called “Silky Home” replaces the traditional settings menu with something that’s a little easier to use on larger devices. Instead of items taking up the entire screen, a large label fills the top of the menu, making it easier to get to anything on the screen.
With Android 12 Developer Preview 1 installed, you can enable the developer flag by using Google’s ADB utility and running the following command:
./adb shell settings put global settings_silky_home true
It’s not clear if this is a redesign Google is working on for the public launch of Android 12 or something we’ll see in a later version of the operating system.
How to install and use ADB, the Android Debug Bridge utility