From the beginning, Android has always been about personalization and allowing us to select the device, service, experience that’s right for us, and how we use it. Android has grown to more than three billion active devices around the world. The latest of Google’s mobile operating system was announced in February leaving us wondering and at the same time excited about what it has to offer.
Recently at Google I/O 2021, we were able to get the first dibs of the latest development and were shown the release of the first beta of Android 12 and giving us a look into some of the features that will be available in future releases.
A more personal experience
Android 12 includes the biggest design change in Android’s history. Developers rethought the entire experience, from the colors to the shapes, light, and motion. The result is that Android 12 is more expressive, dynamic, and personal than ever before. It’s ready for testing and you can now get the Beta on other devices as well, including select devices from ASUS, OnePlus, Oppo, realme, TCL, Vivo, and Xiaomi, with others on the way.
Starting with Android 12 on Pixel devices, you’ll be able to completely personalize your phone with a custom color palette and redesigned widgets. Using color extraction, you choose your wallpaper, and the system automatically determines which colors are dominant, which ones are complementary and which ones just look great. It then applies those colors across the entire OS: the notification shade, the lock screen, the volume controls, new widgets and much more.
Fluid motion and animations
Some of the most important spaces on your phone — like your notification shade, quick settings and even the power button — have been purposefully reimagined to help you get things done.
The notification shade is more intuitive and playful, with a crisp, at-a-glance view of your app notifications, whatever you’re currently listening to or watching, and Quick Settings that let you control practically the entire operating system with a swipe and a tap. The Quick Settings space doesn’t just look and feel different. It’s been rebuilt to include Google Pay and Home Controls, while still allowing for customization so you can have everything you need most in one easy-to-access place.
To make sure you always have help from Google at your fingertips, you can now long press the power button to invoke Assistant to make a phone call, open apps, ask questions or read aloud text-heavy articles.
Perhaps the most significant of the beta release is the UI update to Android. Material You is a radical new way to think about design. Material You will transform design for Android, for Google, and for the entire tech industry.
Material You explores a more humanistic approach to design. One that celebrates the tension between design sensibility and personal preference and does not shy away from emotion. Without compromising the functional foundations of all the other apps, Material You seeks to create designs that are personal for every style, accessible for every need, alive and adaptive for every screen. Material You comes first to Google Pixel.
Private and secure by design
Android 12 includes new features that give you more transparency around which apps are accessing your data, and more controls so you can make informed choices about how much private information your apps can access.
The new Privacy Dashboard offers a single view into your permissions settings as well as what data is being accessed, how often and by which apps. It also lets you easily revoke app permissions right from the dashboard.
Android 12 is also about building privacy protections directly into the OS. There are more opportunities than ever to use AI to create helpful new features, but these features need to be paired with powerful privacy. With this release, it has introduced the Android Private Compute Core that will allow and introduce new technologies that are private by design, keeping personal information safe, private, and local to your phone.
Private Compute Core enables features like Live Caption, Now Playing and Smart Reply. All the audio and language processing happen on-device, isolated from the network to preserve your privacy. Like the rest of Android, the protections in Private Compute Core are open source and fully inspectable and verifiable by the security community.
There are more features coming later this year as Android 12 is set for its final release, and we can’t wait to see.
“On overall accessibility — Google wants to grant greater control over contrast and color, especially for those who have a specific set of needs in identifying things better in the user interface.
We’re providing you with those settings and tools to make it easily accessible. A lot of what we’re surfacing — in wallpaper and styles, palette picker, switching quickly from light or dark mode — are laying a foundation to not make accessibility something that we must design for, but something inherent in our system design.
For example, sidewalks with curb cutouts are designed for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to get on and off — but we all benefit from it, these things benefit all of us. Hence, we are trying to approach UI in the same way — something that does not separate, but something that’s built in and something that everybody can take advantage of,” said Sebastian Bauer, Senior Director, Android & Pixel Product Design at Google.
Android 12 is packed with other useful experiences, like improved accessibility features for people with impaired vision, scrolling screenshots, conversation widgets that bring your favorite people to the home screen and ways for all your devices to work better together. Google is delivering on their promise to make third-party app stores easier to use on Android 12. You can find many of these features today in Android 12 Beta, available on Pixel and other devices.