Google has released the first Developer Beta of Android 12, and as the name makes it clear, it is intended for developers to test the new APIs and accordingly tweak their apps in accordance with Google’s new vision for its mobile operating system. This is far from what the stable version looks like, but the first developer-centric build of Android 12 has already given us a glimpse of the changes that will greet users, both major and minor. Here’s our pick for the top Android 12 features we’ve seen so far:
|NOTE: Some of the Android 12 features mentioned have to be enabled manually, or are still in the development phase in the first Developer Preview released by Google.|
Personally, no other convenience tops it for me than a native scrolling screenshot feature. I am heavily reliant on this feature on my secondary phones running skins such as OnePlus’ Oxygen OS and Xiaomi’s MIUI, but my daily-driver Pixels haven’t had a native solution for it. Thankfully, Android 12 finally adds this convenience, and I can’t wait for it to roll out widely with the stable Android 12 update for all Pixel users at some point in August.
Scrolling screenshots are still a bit janky/broken, but it actually works! (It's not enabled by default so you won't see it when you update.) pic.twitter.com/7ih2zQgvZk— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
Wi-Fi password sharing made easier
Google released Nearby Share – its wireless file transfer tool for Android phones – back in August last year, and has kept improving it ever since. With Android 12, Nearby Share gets yet another useful trick – the ability to share Wi-Fi passwords. All you have to do is hit the Nearby button on the Share Wi-Fi screen, let it scan, and find the device that you want to share the password with.
Android 12 now lets you share Wi-Fi passwords with anyone nearby through Nearby Share. pic.twitter.com/fAA0nzKvlL— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
For folks like me with smaller than average fingers, using a large phone such as the Pixel 3 XL was nothing short of a daily struggle. Thankfully, Android 12 is introducing a native one-handed mode that will solve the reachability issue. Though it currently doesn’t look as polished as its implementation by other OEMs, it is definitely good to see this convenience arrive with the first developer preview of Android 12.
Here's Android 12's one-handed mode – fully working. Sadly, it's like Apple's Reachability (vertically downsizing) rather than OHM on most OEM software (both horizontal and vertical downsizing). pic.twitter.com/IznRVHTgPu— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
A more granular theming system
In Android 12, you’ll get deeper customization controls with a fresh approach to theming. For example, UI elements such as accent colors and notification backgrounds change their hue based on the wallpaper you have set on the home and lock screen. This approach also extends to the settings menu where the background and slider colors are also tweaked accordingly.
Android 11 introduced a nifty feature called one-time permission that allowed users to grant an app temporary access to their device’s sensor (or any other data-related parameter) as long as the session lasts. In Android 12, Google is taking a more proactive approach in that direction, showing warnings even in system apps if they are using the mic or camera. Additionally, you will able to shut off access to your phone’s camera and mic for all apps using dedicated quick action tiles.
Hidden Quick Settings tiles to mute the microphone and block the camera. pic.twitter.com/JhVXm5XHzq— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 19, 2021
Accessing notifications shade made easier
On Pixels, you have to reach all the way to the top and perform a swipe-down gesture to access the notifications tray, or you can customize the fingerprint sensor at the back to do so. But in Android 12, you will be able to do the same by just swiping down alongside the bottom edge of the screen.
I found another gesture – swipe down for notifications. You know how the Pixel Launcher lets you swipe down on the home screen to pull down the notification shade? Yeah, this does that – but in any app. pic.twitter.com/VpmRESJkkM— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 19, 2021
Refined picture-in-picture mode experience
The picture-in-picture (PiP) mode experience on Android has been a barebones affair so far. Thankfully, Android 12 Developer Preview 1 introduces the ability to resize a picture-in-picture window, and also adds the ability to stash it on the side of the screen without actually closing it.
Take two, this time with taps showing. pic.twitter.com/Rawtccag05— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
Sending haptic feedback to connected controllers
Vibration feedback on a gaming controller plays a key role at enhancing the whole feel of playing a game. In Android 12, if you are playing a game on your phone or tablet, you will be able to channel the vibration feedback to your connected gamepad, which is quite cool.
In Languages & Input, there's a new "redirect vibration" setting that will let you pass through vibrations to connected game controllers. pic.twitter.com/vXAm9sDnT7— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
Editing at your fingerprints
Imagine a scenario where you have to share a photo, but quickly have to crop the sides and add some annotations to it. Ideally, you would do it first-hand before hitting the share button, or you will rely on the in-app solution, the likes of which you see on WhatsApp. In Android 12, the native editor now appears on the share sheet to save you the hassle.
If you want a more in-depth look at everything that the first Developer Preview of Android 12 brings and the features that are currently in the pipeline, check out this comprehensive and constantly updated Android 12 guide over at XDA-Developers.