While the Android community collectively waits for the Pixel 6, Google has released the latest version of the Android OS ahead of the highly anticipated device. In previous years, the newest version of Android always shipped with the latest Pixel device, but it appears this year will be different. Android 12 will be officially released into the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) and then seeded into devices in the coming weeks.
Pixel phones will of course be the first devices to receive the update, followed by the rest of the Android hardware partners later in the year. According to Google, more than 225,000 people participated in the Android 12 Beta. Of those participating, Google received over 50,000 issue reports which they used to improve the quality of future builds during the test phase.
Google honed in on improving the entire Android experience for their new software release. This refresh has been dubbed “Material You” a takeoff from the “material design” UI from previous updates. Material You gives Android 12 a more elegant look and feel while keeping functionality and user experience at the forefront. App widgets and notifications have been redesigned to make them more modern and most importantly, more useful. Apps will also gain new splash screens to add unique experiences for different apps.
Devices capable of supporting Android 12 will also see an immediate performance boost after upgrading. Android 12 makes this possible by reducing the CPU time used by core system services by 22%. Larger cores usage will drop by 15% and apps will be optimized resulting in faster startup times across the board.
Google is also being more intentional with privacy improvements within Android 12. For starters, there’s a new privacy dashboard that allows you to see which apps have access to things like the camera, microphone, and location services from one central spot. There’s a new mic and camera indicator to make users aware of when an app is using either peripheral, similar to what iPhone does now in the same scenario. If you see indications that an app is using either, a simple tap on the light in the notification panel and you can revoke access in one fell swoop.
Releasing Android 12 before officially unveiling the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is a slightly risky move by Google, but I’m here for it. Google is expected to reveal the latest Pixel devices during a special event later this month. In the meanwhile, current-gen Pixel owners will soon be able to experience the next version of Android firsthand.