With over 3 billion active Android devices worldwide, new details of the Android 12 operating system at Google I/O 2021 naturally grabbed people’s attention. From a fresh design to better privacy, Google showcased what new big features users can expect when Android 12 lands this fall.
Google said during the presentation yesterday that it based the UI elements around feelings, which led to the creation of Material You. Material You builds upon Google’s material design and alters how the system looks according to user interactions. The operating system will dynamically customize the system’s colour palettes by sampling personal elements like wallpapers, and respond to touches with animations. For the latter, Google demonstrated a new ripple effect when the user picked up the phone or when the power button is pressed.
Moreover, Google has improved animations by reducing resource background tasks, mainly lock contention in key system services like activity window and package manager. Also, apps now scale better across different display formats and sizes, better utilizing free space.
Beyond the facelift, Google has also redesigned settings access. The pulldown notification shade will be more intuitive with bigger buttons. Google Pay and smart home controls will have their own spaces in Quick Settings. Long holding the power button will summon the Google Assistant.
Android 12 will feature a new Privacy Dashboard. Within, users will find a summary of permission settings and adjust them accordingly. No more bouncing between multiple menus to change permissions for different apps. The Privacy dashboard will also present sensor access per app with a timestamp, adding a bit more transparency into what the phone’s doing when the user’s looking away.
The microphone and camera–two of the most sensitive parts of any smartphone–will be better monitored. When they’re active, Android 12 will display a persistent icon in the top status bar. Users can revoke microphone and camera access for all apps from Quick Settings as well.
Location detection will be split into precise and approximate. While navigation apps like Citymapper need precise location, others, like weather apps, work just fine with approximated locations.
Private Compute Core is another big new feature coming in Android 12. Google didn’t delve into its specifics in its keynote, but it’s clear that Private Compute Core isn’t a new security processor like Microsoft Pluton. Instead, it looks to be a software solution that isolates sensitive user data used for local AI processing. Google has made the code for Private Compute Core open source and freely inspectable by the security community.
Up until Android 10, all Android releases corresponded to a dessert. Android 11 didn’t have a public codename, but it was called “Red Velvet Cake” by its dev Team. Android 12 will follow suit. Although it’s just called Android 12 to the public, it’s supposedly known as “Snow Cone” internally.
Android 12 will release this fall, but Google Pixel phones and 11 brands including OnePlus, Xiaomi and TCL already have access to the beta version.