The source code for Android 12 has been released to Android’s Open Source Project. While this does mean it’s technically live, we probably won’t be seeing Android 12 open to Pixel phones for the next few weeks while everything is finalised. With that said, what’s new about Android 12 compared to previous versions? Is it worth the upgrade? Let’s dig into it.
New OS, Improved Style
A lot of the aspects behind the new Android 12 Operating System focus on quality-of-life improvements and a visual overhaul, enabling an optimal and refined experience when using your smartphone. The first think you’ll notice with Android 12 is the visual revamp – Material You. This is part of Google’s in-progress design language and it’s a step that allows the user (that’s you!) to influence the design and visuals.
But it’s not just there that the visual upgrades stop. There’s now quick access tiles for you to navigate to your most active or recently used apps. Your push notifications from text messages, emails or social media are much more intuitive and interactive. There’s also a one-handed mode, where everything on the screen lowers itself so you don’t need to stretch your thumb awkwardly to tap the top of the screen.
Android 12’s Best Features
This is just a small list of what’s coming though. There’s a lot more to cover here. There are even more features to this OS, but these are the most applicable ones for you:
- AppSearch – This is an on-device search engine that enables you to search any of your apps, folders, anything – for a file name of your choice, a song title, and it will help you locate exactly where it is.
- Easier Wi-Fi Sharing – Nice and simple, creating a Wi-Fi connection with someone now only means you need to hit the Nearby button and then it’ll give you a QR code to send to someone, allowing them to quickly join your network.
- Quick Tap – If you need to launch any app without necessarily being able to access the screen of your phone, you can set up quick tap, allowing you to tap the back of your phone and launch the app. Super handy for music playlists on the walk to work.
- Haptic-coupled audio – Much like your controllers for your PlayStation or Xbox, your phone can now sync up audio with vibrations, to give you a more immersive gaming experience.
- Google Play Updates – Now you can update your Android 12 OS directly in Google Play. Sweet.
- Improved Widgets – More widgets are rolling out with Android 12, and there’s one for everyone.
- App Hibernation – If you need to free up space but don’t want to lose data on unused apps, you can now put them into hibernation until you need them again.
- More emojis – Now there’s a few more new emojis available, and some others have been revamped slightly to be a bit more user friendly.
- Improved Auto-Rotate Speed – Swapping your phone from portrait to landscape and back again is now an average of 25% faster.
- New Internet Quick Tile – will take you to a list of common networking settings to help configure
- Screenshot Markups / Editing – Taking any kind of screenshot means you can now add text, emojis, effects and filters for higher levels of customisation.
Android 12 Game Mode
While not everyone plays games on their phone, we think this is special enough to talk about separately. Despite all the improvements listed above, probably the area with the biggest improved functionality is mobile gaming. If you’re anything like us, when you download something, you want it done immediately – Android 12 has us covered. There’s a new “play-as-you-download” feature that’ll help you get into the games much quicker, downloading assets in the background as you launch the game.
There’s also a new Game Dashboard, which allows you to check and compare achievements in the Game Store, stream your gameplay directly to YouTube, or the really important detail – choose your performance profile.
Not every game has updated to account for the performance profile, but the roll-out is happening quickly. In essence, the performance can be determined by you when you launch the game. You can set it to Battery Saver, which will have a lower framerate but will allow you to play for longer. There’s also a Performance mode, which gives you the best possible framerate for you and your games at the cost of battery drain. Finally, there’s a Standard setting, which is the default and a nice balance of both.
Whether you’re playing games from the comfort of your own home, whilst you wait for a bus or sat on a train, knowing that you can sit down and get immersed in a higher quality game is brilliant news. With phones being so much smaller than a computer monitor, the difference in quality and performance really is noticeable.
How to Get Android 12
Once Android 12 is officially and fully released, it will become available on a range of Google Pixel phones and other devices. This is not a fully inclusive list, but the current compatible devices are as follows:
- Pixel 6 / 6 Pro
- Pixel 3 through 5 (including the A-Series and XL versions)
- Xiaomi 11/11i/11 Ultra/11X Pro
- Nokia X20
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 / Z Flip 3
There are bound to be more compatible phones as well, but these are the phones that were included in the Android 12 beta (outside of the Z Fold/Flip 3) which is a new release.
As always, if you’d like to check out our own mobile deals to get yourself a phone that’s capable of handling the Android 12 OS release, or are looking for a new and powerful phone in general, you can find them here.