While we’re eagerly waiting for Google to release Android 12, XDA-Developers have already gotten their hands-on with a leaked build of Android 12.1. The update shows that Google is working to bring a better user interface and overall support for foldable devices, and likely for its own Pixel Fold as well.
First and foremost, first-party apps and UI elements seem to have benefitted from the dual-pane navigation system. For example, currently, when you swipe down on the home screen on foldable, it works exactly as it works on Android smartphones — with notifications appearing in one swipe and quick settings panels on the double swipe. However, Android 12.1 will make it easy to use with a dual-pane navigation system. In Android 12.1, the quick settings panel is shown on one side with the notification panel sitting next to it. Similarly, the Settings app benefits from the dual-pane layout with the settings menu on the left and the detailed settings menu on the right – much like iPadOS.
The lock screen also benefits from the new UI. It now shows time and date on the left side with notifications on the right side. The theme is noticeable across all the first-party apps. XDA also says that in Android 12.1, the lock icon is centered and much larger now.
In addition to this, there’s also a taskbar — or dock — at the bottom of Android 12.1. The dock looks fairly similar to what we find in the modern-day operating systems and even iPadOS from Apple. XDA says that the taskbar will allow users to “quickly switch between apps, drag and drop an app to launch it in split-screen mode, and touch and hold the taskbar to hide it from view.” Currently, only 5 apps can be added to the taskbar.
Lastly, the report claims that Google will open-source its themeing engine with Android 12.1. This is because when Android 12 launches later this year, only Google Pixel users will have access to the wallpaper-based theming system. That code isn’t open-source and manufacturers like Samsung and OnePlus won’t be able to add it in their version of Android 12. However, that will change with Android 12.1 as the report says Google will open-source the themeing engine with Android 12.1, which is code-named “monet.”
Other minor tweaks include the ability to change Press & hold duration for the power button. Android 11, and most of the operating systems nowadays, open Assistant when holding the power button for long. With Android 12.1, you’ll be able to change the duration for how long you need to hold down the power button to activate Google Assistant. XDA says that you will be able to “choose from short (250ms) to long (750ms), or somewhere in between (350, 500, or 650ms).”
All in all, it seems that Android 12.1 will be a major upgrade for foldable. With Samsung, and now reportedly Google as well, working on their foldable devices, it seems that Android will become a better operating system for foldable and adapt to the crease-y screens.
For those asking about the version number, XDA says that Android 12 shipped with API level 31, and the upcoming major update, Android 13, will come with API level 33. So, there should be some interim major release, which XDA claims will be Android 12.1 with API level 32.
What are your thoughts on the Android 12.1 screenshots? Let us know in the comments section below!