Ahead of the launch of Android 12 Developer Preview, which may be around the corner, here’s a recap of all of the Android 12 leaks we’ve seen so far.
Normally, we learn the bigger picture features of the next version of Android when the first Developer Preview builds release, with smaller tweaks appearing in subsequent updates. This year, a significant amount of information about Android 12 has leaked out or appeared in public source code ahead of the Developer Preview, likely to begin sometime this month.
To help keep tabs on what’s coming with the next release of Google’s mobile operating system, we’ve collected all of the various Android 12 leaks into one hub, which we’ll keep updated.
Everything we know about Android 12
Android 12’s dessert
Every major release of Android, since Cupcake in 2009, has used a dessert name that starts with a subsequent letter of the alphabet. While this practice stopped publicly with Android 10 — which would have been named “Queens Cake” — Google has continued to use these dessert names internally. For example, Android 11 was “Red Velvet Cake” — a fact that came up in a fun easter egg of Google’s virtual Android statue for 2020.
As reported by XDA, Android 12’s internal dessert name is “Snow Cone.” Do with that information as you will.
Leaked design mockups
More interestingly, mockups have leaked out depicting what Android 12 should look like, and what we see is a fairly radical redesign. You may see images from this leak sprinkled throughout this post, but it’s important to note that we don’t know for certain whether these depict what Android 12 will look like when we finally see it. These are not screenshots, but are instead simply artist renditions of a particular design that Google is considering.
One thing you may notice throughout the leaked Android 12 design mockups is that instead of the usual white or black colorways used on Pixel phones, we find a primary color best described as “sand.” This is due to an in-depth theming system that is set to debut with Android 12.
Android 12’s theming system should offer you a few different primary colors to choose from, from which your theme will be built. Most interestingly, Android app developers will be able to retheme their app based on your chosen theme’s color, if they so choose.
Of course, there’s far more going on in the Android 12 design mockups than just a theming system. There’s also a massive collection of smaller tweaks like notification cards with much rounder corners, new shapes and spacing for quick settings tiles and more.
According to XDA, these may come together to form a larger whole referred to internally as “Material NEXT.” From what we can piece together, it’s possible that this may point to a third generation of Google’s Material Design following the 2014 original and the 2018 “Material Theming” revamp. It’s also possible that this “Material NEXT” could simply refer to updates to the use of Material Design by Android’s built-in apps and UI.
Another aspect that jumps out in the leaked mockups is that Android 12 may add special “Conversations” widgets for use on the home screen. Each of these widgets seems to represent something like a friend who you haven’t talked to in a while, or a missed call you should probably return. Details are a bit scarce for now, but it seems right in line with Google’s efforts toward “making a People-focused operating system.”
For those with taller phones, Android 12 may be bringing a native “One-handed mode” that will shrink down your phone’s screen vertically, bringing everything well within reach of your thumbs. However, unlike most versions of one-handed mode that scale down both the height and the width, it seems Android 12’s may only scale down the height.
Taking cues from iOS, Android 12 seems to be working on a variety of improvements to help you be more aware of your privacy. In the top-right corner, you’ll reportedly find a privacy indicator that can appear in orange or green, letting you know that an app is using or has used your camera or microphone recently.
Along with the privacy indicator, it’s been leaked that Android 12’s Settings app will get a revamped Privacy page where you can outright disable your phone’s camera, microphone, and location sensors.
In 2019, Google confirmed that scrolling screenshots — where your phone takes a screenshot, scrolls down, takes another, and stitches the two (or more) together — would indeed be coming to Android as a native feature. So far, this hasn’t happened with Android 10 or 11, but according to XDA, Google has been hard at work on scrolling screenshots, which may be ready to launch with this year’s release.
With Android 11, Google added the ability to resize your floating picture-in-picture window by grabbing onto the corner and dragging. For Android 12, according to XDA, picture-in-picture windows will be able to be pinched to resize with precision or double-tapped to quickly jump to maximum size.
Additionally, it’s been leaked that picture-in-picture windows may offer a way to “stash” the window most of the way off-screen so that you can see more of your currently active app. With a simple tap, your stashed window will pop back out.
Android 12 set to revamp split screen with ‘App Pairs’
Given the rise of foldables and dual-screen devices, Android 12 has been leaked to include a new form of split screen called “App Pairs.” In the App Pairs system, you should be able to treat two separate apps as one “task” in your recent apps view, allowing you to quickly switch from a pair of apps to another single app. It’s unknown if Android 12’s App Pairs will also offer quick shortcuts to a particular pair like Samsung’s App Pairs.
Our team has created a mockup of what we believe the Android 12 App Pairs system may look like.
Between the variety of games offered through Google Play Games and the growing wealth of game-streaming services like Stadia and Xbox Game Pass, gaming on Android has never been bigger. To match that growth, Android 12 could be bringing a dedicated “game mode” option, according to XDA. More specifically, a “GameManager” has been discovered, which is listed as a “service to manage game-related features.” For now, Android 12’s potential “game mode” is still something of a mystery.
As a minor tidbit, XDA has reported that Android 12 will gain a “Reduce Brightness” tile in quick settings. From what’s been discovered, “Reduce Brightness” seems to be an accessibility feature aimed at those with visual impairments.
While flagship phones are ever scaling up in storage space, not everyone in the world has the luxury of an expensive phone with a high capacity. To help reduce the amount of storage used on your phone, it’s been reported that Android 12 could introduce a way for apps to be “hibernated” when they aren’t being actively used. Details are still a bit scarce on how this hibernation will work.
Third-party app store improvements
This particular tidbit is not a leak, but it’s still a welcome improvement to Android. Google shared last year that they were listening to feedback from Android app developers and would make it easier to use a third-party app store — something that isn’t the Play Store or Galaxy Store, such as the Epic Games Store — on Android 12.
Google hasn’t shared any specifics on how this would work, but it’s expected to be a good compromise between Android’s open nature and Google’s desire to keep people safe from malware.
Android 12 features for Pixel phones
In addition to the broader Android 12 features that should become available for owners of essentially any phone that gets the update, Google seems to have prepared a suite of exclusive features for their Pixel phones.
The biggest leaked improvement for Pixel phones is that Android 12 should bring the double-tap gesture that we previously saw in development with Android 11. Codenamed “Columbus,” the Android 12 double-tap gesture should let you do things like open the Google Assistant, play/pause music, open the notification shade, and more.
Face-based auto rotate
Pixel phones should also gain a new option for Auto-Rotate in Android 12, which uses the camera to check which way your face is turned. Essentially, if you’re laying down on your side and holding your phone sideways, your face and phone should be facing the same way, and Android 12 will know that you want to be in portrait mode.
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