Quick Note: Curious about what is new in Android? Is Android 12 going to help Android match Apple in terms of security? What are the major changes in Android 12? There is a lot to unpack with Android 12. That is exactly what we will do in this ultimate breakdown guide about Latest Android 12 Features.
Android has always primarily been about personalization and giving users the choice, flexibility, and the experience of using one of the best mobile operating systems in the device of their choice, budget, and preference. Over the years of capturing the largest market share in the mobile operating system software, Android has now reached an astounding number of 3 billion active devices worldwide. So, you can hate on Android, love Android, but definitely cannot miss what the new Android 12 has to offer on the table.
Google announced Android 12 on February 18, 2021, nearly a year later since they released the first beta of Android 11 back on February 19, 2020. Since then, there have been many speculations and events that give us better clarity about what we can expect with Android 12. The Google I/O took place on May 18, 2021, where the company made some promising announcements while giving more attention to –
- Android 12
- Pixel Phones
Based on Google I/O and some of the industry experts’ opinions, we have developed a consolidated and easy-to-follow guide for anyone who wants to understand Android 12 before committing to it.
The three big themes with Android 12
Android 12 has been worked upon with a primary focus on three big themes that will define every effort and changes made in Android 12 –
1. Deeply Personal
Google believes that the smartphone experience should be so personalized and unique that a user’s smartphone should adapt to their personal choices and likings.
2. Private & Secure
Android believes it has made many improvements in privacy and security, which will enable its users to make use of all the latest Android 12 features with ease and comfort.
3. Better Together
Android 12 focuses on bringing all your smart devices (smartTV, cars, watches) to function smoothly together with your smartphone at the center, providing you the ease of control at your fingertip.
Latest Android 12 Privacy Features
Android and privacy usually always have a complicated relationship. No matter how hard Android tries, other mobile software companies like iOS overshadow Android. Android 12 comes with many new privacy features that might change this notion –
1. Privacy Dashboard
Android 12 is determined to change the narration around Android security. To prove they mean business this time, they introduced a completely new setting category called the Privacy Dashboard. The all-new Privacy Dashboard is aimed to help users keep track of any sensitive permissions they give to any apps. It is a systematic and impressive representation of your phone applications and a timely update of how and when they used your phone’s permission in the last 24 hours.
This enables Android users to easily check and identify any rogue apps trying to scoop their data. Not only this, but the privacy dashboard also has a conveniently placed button to Manage Permission that can be used to allow or deny any app access to your sensors at any given time.
2. Privacy Indicators
Android is picking up after Apple, but it is a welcomed and much-needed update. Android 12 introduced privacy indicators for the microphone and camera in the notification panel. A green-colored indicator shows up on the top right corner of your screen whenever any of your mobile apps is using your camera or microphone in the background. You can quickly tap on the indicator and revoke permissions for the same if you do not want that app to use your mic and camera.
Alternatively, suppose you want to deny access to your mic and camera entirely on your phone. In that case, you can use the dedicated Quick settings buttons to turn off the mic and camera permissions for all apps.
3. Approximate Location Sharing
Not all your Android apps need access to your precise location. To be honest, not many apps should have that kind of information on you too. Keeping this is mind, Android 12 comes with the new approximate location-sharing feature that lets you share your approximate location to use some app functionalities. For instance, you do not need exact location pointing for a weather app; approximate location access will give you accurate weather status and report without giving away your exact latitude and longitude values.
4. Android Private Compute Core
No, there is no actual physical chip or ‘core’ involved; rather, the Android Private Compute Core can be thought of as a sandboxed part introduced in Android 12 for AI, VR, and other such technologies. The APCC will run many machine learning functions inside the sandbox. However, it will be separated from the rest of the OS. Its internal functions won’t get permission for any network access. Hence, it won’t be able to send or receive data from the cloud. The only method of communicating with APCC will be through limited APIs.
Some of the promising APCC features are –
- Now Playing
- Smart Replay – based on your reply patterns
- Audio and Language Processing on device
Latest Android 12 Design Features
Google announced Android 12 to be the biggest design overhaul in years during the Google I/O 2021. In addition, they introduced the next iteration of their design language – Material You, a successor of the widely known Material Design. Material Design was a set of design guidelines that helped Android developers and designers make their mobile apps look like they were built for Android by following some Android app design guidelines.
The idea behind Material Design was ‘form following function,’ which the team at Google is changing to ‘form following feeling’ with Material You. Material You is about including the user as a collaborative team member for designing and personalizing their smartphone design experience with the team. They have made massive changes to how everything looks, but the core functionality and user flow remain intact. This makes it a welcoming yet refreshing change. Here are some of the major changes and latest Android features we see with Android 12 –
5. Wallpaper based theming
Google redesigned their ‘Wallpaper & Style’ app with some interesting features that open up more personalization and smart design possibilities. Now you can pick from the range of wallpapers they have, change the grid size, the style and accent colors of the quick notification buttons, icon shapes, and much more. One of the most impressive features is that Android 12 picks a color for your wallpaper and changes the color of your lock screen clock and quick tile colors accordingly.
6. Improved Notification Shade
They say change is the only constant. It stands true for Android updates and their habit of introducing new changes in the notification shade. Continuing this tradition, Android has made major improvements to your notification shade with Android 12. They have redesigned and redefined the look and feel of the notification shade and the quick toggles.
7. Quick Settings Design Overhaul
If you have a Pixel 5 with you or hands-on the new Android 12, the first evident design change you would notice will be on the quick setting tiles. Before Android 12, all Android versions have attempted to make the quick setting toggles as compact and refined as possible. We say goodbye to that trend with Android 12’s chunky toggles with proper text. The new Android toggles are much bigger than any of their predecessor; however, you still get more toggles on a single page.
8. A new Lockscreen
Android 12 comes with an entirely new lock screen design which is very refreshing and impressive. The lock screen uses dynamic lighting and animations to differentiate different ways of interacting with the phone. For example, if you swipe the screen to unlock your phone, the phone lights up from the bottom to the top of the screen.
Alternatively, suppose you turn it on using the power button. In that case, the light ripples out from the power button’s position to the screen. Moreover, if you get done seeing all notifications on your lock screen and clear them, the clock automatically takes center position with a bigger font indicating that you’re caught up with all notifications.
9. Redesigning and Reimagining Widgets
Widgets are often useful for accessing any app’s frequently used features without committing to opening the entire app to perform that action. There are also a utility and functional widgets that help personalize your phone and give you an aesthetic representation of everyday information.
Widgets in Android had been collecting dust from the last couple of updates, as no attention was given to them. With Android 12, Google is changing the way Android users perceive and interact with widgets. Google is introducing many functional widgets that will help you check your battery status, allow you to have shopping lists on the screen, and more. They are also pushing developers to update their widgets to the new design theme to push Android users to rely on widgets more often.
10. Changes in the settings menu
The settings menu is also redesigned and simplified entirely. The labels and icons are larger and easier to read. The subheadings listing all features within the main menu are removed. When you scroll through the settings menu, you’ll also experience a springy animation at the top and bottom of the list.
What’s new in Google Android 12?
Android 12 also came with many new tools and features that you should know about. Most of these features are extremely new. However, some of them are minor refinements to the existing solutions to improve their potential.
11. Introducing the all-new conversation widgets
This is going to be the most appreciated and most useful Android 12 feature. The conversation widgets, by default, take up a standard 2×2 square space in your Android phone. However, you can resize it for showing more information like incoming messages and the time of messages. The widget will also change color depending on where you place it on your home screen, as its color palette gets selected based on your wallpaper.
12. Scrolling screenshot support
Scrolling screenshot is a much-awaited Android feature that users had been demanding for years. Finally, with Android 12, scrolling screenshot is a possibility. For using it, you need to take a screenshot of the current page you are on.
Then you would get a ‘capture more’ button if you want to screenshot more of your screen. Once you’re done taking a screenshot of the page to your heart’s content, you can edit and crop it as per your liking.
13. The all-new AppSearch
Android is making searching for things on your Android phone much easier, efficient, and subtle. Google will be introducing AppSearch with Android 12 and an on-device search engine that can help users find content inside applications, even with offline devices. For instance, you want to listen to a song from your music app with all your favorite songs.
Searching the song’s title on the app, the app will pass the request to AppSearch for coming back with the exact song you requested. Offloading such requests and queries to AppSearch will result in faster responses and utilizing lower resources.
14. One-handed mode
One-handed mode is not a ‘new’ feature in mobile software, as many other smartphone brands have been providing this feature for ages. However, it was always missing from stock Android, and now it’s here!
15. Game Mode API
Google is working on Android’s new Game Mode APIs that will allow developers to react to players selecting a performance profile for their game. The users will choose between longer battery life for a longer commute or performance mode to get the best frame rates. The GameManager API will modify the game mode for any package that are defined by these four-game mode constants –
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Wrapping it up!
These are the top Android 12 features to look out for with the latest Android version available in the market. In addition, make sure to design and develop your apps according to the new Material You guideline and use the various APIs Android is coming up with to make your app more Android-like.