Just last week, Google released Android 12 to Pixel devices. OEMs like Samsung and OPPO, and others, are are still working to launch their Android 12-based OS like OneUI 4.0 and ColorOS 12 to its flagship and foldable devices. While Google doesn’t have a foldable smartphone or even a tablet, yet, the company realizes that many Android manufacturers have embraced the bending nature of folding glass and have released folding smartphones, such as Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. The company has now announced Android 12L which is basically an optimized version of Android 12 for large screen devices such as foldables, tablets, and more.
First thought as Android 12.1, Android 12L is Google’s optimized version of Android for screens that have a dp above 60. Google is calling Android 12L a “special feature drop” that makes “Android 12 even better on large screens.”
Specifically, Google is changing how system elements like notifications, quick settings, lock screen, and the home screen look on the large screen devices. The UI is now divided into two columns that make use of the entire screen. When you swipe down on the home screen in Android 12L, the left side shows quick settings toggles whereas the right-hand side shows notifications. This is much efficient than how Android is implemented on tablets currently in which the space is wasted as the implementation is similar to the phones. Similarly, the lock screen has also been optimized.
The new Android 12L also makes it easier for large screen devices users to quickly switch between different apps. A dock-like taskbar appears in the bottom from which you can drag and drop apps to open in split-screen. Google says this will be available on all apps, “regardless whether the apps are resizable.”
With Android 12L, Google is encouraging developers to start optimizing their apps for the big screens. The company now provides three window size classes: Small for phones, Medium for foldables and small tablets, Expanded for landscape-mode tablets and computers. Developers can also make their apps smart to “detect” the folding crease and use that area as a natural UI separator.
Google has confirmed that Android 12L will be available on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. The company, on the Android 12L Developer Preview website, has written that “For foldables, you’ll see many of these features including Activity Embedding coming soon to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3,” confirming that the new feature will be available on Samsung’s best-selling foldable.
As for the availability of Android 12L, Google says it will be available “early next year.” A report from 9to5Google claims that the first Android 12L beta will be available in December and the final version will be available in Q1, 2022.
Google says it will be available with the “next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables.” Developers will be available to test the new version of Android on their foldable devices like Lenovo P12 Pro and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 via an Android Developer Preview program. The details of the program will be announced soon.
But if you’re really keen on trying and seeing the new Android 12L, you can emulate the new version using the Android Emulator system images today. Google says that along with tablets and foldables, Android 12L will also be available on Pixel phones.