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Android 12L: Everything you need to know about Google's OS for larger screens
In true Google fashion, Android 12L should have a few developer previews and beta builds before it fully launches in late winter or early spring of 2022. Everything below is based on the first developer preview. Let’s get started.
Android 12L: Everything you need to know
The new OS only has a few different design elements. We expected that, and there will certainly be more changes in future developer previews and betas. For now, there is only a little to talk about.
Revamped overview screen
It otherwise functions like the normal overview screen. You can screenshot, select the text, engage in split-screen mode, etc. All of the tricks still work.
Side-by-side quick settings and notification panel
Android 12L also employs a new look for the notification panel and quick settings menu. On regular phones, the two elements split horizontally; the quick settings take the upper half and the notifications take the lower half. In Android 12L, the split is vertical with them taking the left and right sides of the screen, respectively. The good news is the look and feel are the same as regular Android 12 so there are no weird surprises.
In terms of usability, it’s fairly simple. Swiping down from the top opens both panels at once and swiping up dismisses them simultaneously. However, while open, each panel is independently controlled. Thus, you can swipe away a notification or expand the quick settings without bothering the other side. Rotating our emulator to portrait mode reverts it back to the standard horizontal split as you see on non-foldable phones.
Other potential changes
New features in Android 12L
Android 12L taskbar
It doesn’t seem like much, but the addition of a native taskbar to Android is a pretty big deal. We’ve seen something similar implemented on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to great effect. Basically, Android 12L gives you a taskbar similar to a desktop OS like Windows or macOS. It’s there almost all the time and you can put shortcuts there.
Do you think Android 12L will succeed?
The taskbar is fairly innocuous to start. It sits along the bottom of the screen, where the launcher dock usually is, except it stays when you open apps, the quick settings, or notifications. It does persist in portrait mode as well. The emulator seems to limit the number of apps you can have on the taskbar to five. Hopefully, Google expands that over time.
The limitations of the taskbar keep this from being a truly remarkable feature. As stated in the previous section, we hope Google lets us add more than five apps so we can truly use these new features to their fullest potential.
Other potential changes
For the time being, the above features are the only new ones we know about. The list seems short, but this is just a branch off of Android 12 and not really its own unique thing. We don’t expect a ton of other new features and for most of the development to focus on under the hood and design changes with the UI.
Under-the-hood changes for Android 12L
Google launched a new version of Android Studio, dubbed Android Studio Chipmunk. The new release includes an emulator that natively resizes the screen quickly so developers can adapt their work to Android 12L and larger displays in general. It’s not the most exciting thing from a consumer perspective, but it should help developers make better apps for a wider variety of screen sizes and types.
Improved compatibility mode
Google Play Store changes
Some other changes include screen-specific ratings so people can see how well the app works on larger devices versus just smartphones. Most of these improvements should roll out in 2022.
There are some other, smaller changes as well. Google is now letting OEMs override screen orientation to ignore an app’s specific orientation and force it into portrait or landscape mode. App developers are also being asked to test for and improve camera previews, media projection, various screen sizes, multi-window mode support, taskbar interaction support, and split-screen mode support. Android 12L includes improvements and APIs to help with that as well.
More to look forward to in Android 12L
According to Google, Android 12L releases are going to take place consistently over the course of the next few months and launch officially toward the end of Q1 2022, just in time for Android 13 developer previews to start coming out. That should be late February or sometime in March. This marks perhaps the biggest change for the company as Android updates are now a year-round endeavor. We’ll update this article as new Android 12L stuff comes out. Let’s see how this all turns out.
Android 12L FAQs
Q: When is Android 12L going to launch?
A: According to Google’s timeline, Android 12L should launch at the end of Q1 2022. The graphic Google posted (shown below) shows that it should be late February or sometime in March 2022. We’ll update the article when the release date is narrowed down a little bit more.
Q: Is my device getting Android 12L?
A: It depends on your device. Google is launching Android 12L for nine Pixel devices in batches. They include:
Other devices may get it depending on the manufacturer but we don’t have any concrete release dates yet. The Pixel 4 XL is a notable omission, though this could change. Also, we assume the Lenovo P12 Pro is getting it as well since it is eligible for the developer preview when it launches.
Q: What devices are getting the Android 12L developer previews and beta?
A: All of the above Pixels should get the beta sometime in December even if most of Android 12L’s features won’t be usable by typical phones. The upcoming Lenovo P12 Pro is also eligible for the developer preview, but it’s not on the market yet. That’s the full list for now, but it may expand over time.