It is once again that time of the year when Google has introduced the Beta version of the Android 12. While this happens every year, we just never get used to it and are always eager to experience this new operating system. This year, Google has made it even more exciting by giving Android OS a full facelift in the Android 12. The UI change is said to be the greatest change after the Android lollipop.
So, what has Google introduced in Android 12? Is it any good and will it deliver the value that it intends? Let’s find out.
Let’s start off with one of the most noticeable changes of the Android 12. The notification drop-down has been completely revamped into a less comprehensive but more simplistic one. The Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other icons that we used to have are now titles in the form of tiles, two in each row.
The brightness level has been shifted above the tiles and is more pronounced. You can swipe left or right to access more functionality icons. Android 12 handles notifications particularly well. The system has been improved to stack them more effectively and allow creative options to respond to them such as ‘Nice’ to a message.
Android 12 comes with a new lock screen that is minimalist and simple and offers better utility. The clock has been moved to the center with fonts large and bold enough for even your grandma to tell the time without her glasses.
Additionally, the lock screen will also show the date, local temperature, and notification icons in a very unique manner, something similar to an always-on display in AMOLED screen phones.
You might have seen this in some devices (if not a mobile device, then perhaps in a Windows 10) that the color of the theme changes when you change the app. This feature is often termed as ‘color extraction’ i.e., the system extracts the theme colors from the wallpaper.
What the system does is takes some prominent and some minor colors in the wallpaper and uses them to fill in different spaces. This makes the theme more well-blended and integrated with the wallpaper especially when you are using third-party wallpapers. Another unnoticed effect occurs when you are fed up with seeing the same theme and wallpaper every day. You need a change.
Instead of looking into the Theme store for half an hour and choosing the theme, just change the wallpaper and leave the rest to the brand-new Android 12 which will adapt the interface to the wallpaper and you will have a new and fresh look in just minutes.
Google has introduced new animations with the Android 12 which not only make the phone feel faster but also provide a fun experience for the user. These animations include app opening and closing, opening the app drawer, the notification bar, and much more.
Another important thing to mention here is that Android 12 will show a launch screen for every app you open. In case the developer has included a launch screen, the system will design a launch screen by itself and will show you each time you open the app.
About the overall interface, there is an improved dark mode that does something more than just making the white areas black and the black areas white in the system apps. The dark mode now has enhanced capability to adapt with third-party apps even if they inherently do not offer a dark mode.
The icons on the home screen and in the drawer have been made more pronounced. The squared shape has been cut off at the edges to give the boxes a rounded look throughout the system. It appears more coherent with the improved widgets that Google has introduced (well not really introduced, improved). The rounded corners overall lend a minimalist and futuristic look to the user experience.
Android 12 comes with a number of functionality features, many of which we might have been using for a long time but now they have been introduced by Google as part of the stock Android OS. These include rolling screenshots, widget search, and new emojis as well.
Rolling screenshots are a thing since 2015 but they were included by the mobile phone manufacturer and not Google itself. This was the reason why you could find it in some devices and not in others. The Settings app also gets a revamp and the new interface is easily navigable and makes it easy to find a feature.
For tablets specifically, the Android 12 has something special in the box. Similar to an iPad, Google has introduced a dual-panel home screen that allows you to use the screen estate well and get the most out of the large display as compared to your smartphone.
The smartphone screens are getting bigger and bigger. Thanks to the edge-to-edge displays, you now have more interactive area than what we used to have 6 years ago, and that too without increasing the phone size, at times even decreasing it.
Another feature that came with large phone displays was split-screen, the ability to open and use two apps at a time. So, while you watch a video on YouTube, you can text your friend and tell him you are busy (like really really busy, you are using two apps at the same time!).
Nothing now that, right? Yes, except that Google has introduced Paired apps in the Android 12. Now you can pair the apps that you most frequently use in split-screen mode. This will create a joint icon on the home screen. Now when you need to use the apps in split-screen mode, simply click on the icon and both of your apps will be launched in split-screen.
Considering the more agile work culture that has evolved last year, this is especially handy for video calls when you are in a meeting and need to take notes at the same time. Not an entirely new concept, Samsung is including it in its phones for years, but it will be available across all companies and models from now onwards.
Widgets are nothing new to Android users.
iPhone user: Man, check out the new widgets in my iPhone 12. They are absolutely awesome.
Android user: Widgets, seriously? We have been using this for like 15 years.
But yeah, when Apple does something, it means increased competition. Google has decided to bring their A-game to the widgets section. This means a more agile widget manager, flexibility in their size and a more robust widget working are all part of the new Android 12.
A particularly useful widget that many of us will be probably using is the conversation widget. It will show messages from an app you select (nothing new). Now you can use this widget to show all conversions in one place with a particular contact as well.
Effectively, text messages, WhatsApp messages, and Facebook messages from your wife will all show in the same place. This has solved an important problem that we faced every day while communicating over multiple apps with the same person.
There are some tweaks with the internet options as well. Now instead of just showing that you are connected to the internet, the phone will tell you exactly which type of Wi-Fi you are connected to. Another thing that is related to Wi-Fi is password sharing.
The previous version introduced a feature that allowed to share of Wi-Fi by scanning a QR code. This ensures that you have greater control over your internet connection. Connecting using a QR code not only ensures that your password is safe, it also makes sure that any unnecessary devices that you have not allowed are not connected to the internet.
Google has gone one step further. Now you will have the option to see what devices are connected to the internet and then you can choose whether you want the device to be connected or not.
Privacy is a concerning matter for smartphone users all around the world. People are worried that apps having access to cameras and microphones might use spy on the users via their smartphone and there actually have been scandals when blackmailers used the users’ mobile devices to influence them.
Android 12 has got you covered on this one.
You will notice two new members to the notifications drop-down club. Camera and microphone on/off options are included there at an easily accessible location so you can conveniently toggle them on or off whenever you need to. This is an important measure to give the right of privacy back to the users.
Additionally, whenever an app is using your smartphone’s camera or microphone, or GPS, a relevant icon will be displayed in the notification bar to let you know if the app is using its permissions rightfully or not.
Talking about app permissions, Google has changed the way how the settings showed information about app permissions. Previously, you opened the app permissions and it would just show what permissions does an app has.
Now Google has made it easier to manage app permissions. You will open the App permissions and it will show you which permission is used the most by an app. It will also maintain a history of the apps that make use of particular permission so the user has the authority and the right information to manage the apps he/she allows on his/her device based on concrete information and not by blindly following some rumors and making guesses.
Background apps are another concern that is continuously highlighted on platforms across the world. Background apps are applications that continue to run and process data even after you close them.
On one hand, it is bad for the battery that you have extra apps running on your device without any justified reason and are unable to get the optimal battery time from your device. On the other hand, background apps generally have permissions to access your phone’s camera, microphone, contacts, and location, etc. and while they are silently running out of sight, they have the opportunity to make use of or most probably misuse these app permissions.
The Android 12 allows stricter control over such apps and consequently, provides the users the confidence they need from their 24/7/365 partner. There are times you are in the crowd and then there are others when you are alone. Wherever you are, you still have your smartphone on you and I surely do not want it spying on me.
The new Android 12 will be available commercially in a few months and like you, we are eager to test out the latest from Google. For now, we can see that special consideration is paid to minimalism, user confidence, and customer privacy. We need more tech companies thinking with the same mindset so we can move along with the technology without unnecessarily doubting it.
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