It is mid-February, which means it’s time for google to start posting the first developer preview of their next operating system update. The company’s vice president of engineering, Dave Burke, said in a blog post that with Android 12, it’s “investing in key areas to help deliver a refined experience and better performance.”
Most of today’s news is about developers, but we can glean a few clues as to what new features might be on the way. For example, more media types like AVIF will be supported for better quality images in smaller files. Gesture navigation will be simplified and more consistent in immersive mode, which applies when doing things like playing a game, reading a book, or watching a video. While there is still the option for developers to show only the translucent navigation bar (to avoid accidental full screen swipes), any app that doesn’t have this set will recognize a side or side swipe by default. down like going back or home.
In this preview, we also learn that Android 12 apps will be able to deliver what Google has called “audio-coupled haptic feedback via the phone’s vibrate”. This would allow developers to create experiences such as simulating rough terrain in a racing game, while a video calling app could use custom ringtones to create vibration patterns allowing the user to identify the caller without hearing or seeing the device. Notifications are also becoming “more modern, easier to use and more functional”, with Burke writing that “We are also optimizing transitions and animations across the system to make them smoother.”
Burke also said that in Android 12, notifications will be decorated “with personalized content with an icon and expand the possibilities to match all other notifications.” It’s not very clear wording, but it looks like at least notifications will get some new flourishes, if not a refreshed look. In addition, the company strives to make alerts faster and more responsive by blocking intermediate broadcast receivers or services it calls “trampolines”.
Google is also adding an Android Runtime Module (ART) in the latest operating system that will allow the company to “push updates to the main runtime engine and libraries on devices running Android 12.” It’s part of Project Mainline which allows Google to push security and other important updates to apps through the Play Store, so you won’t have to wait for a system upgrade for critical fixes.
Android isn’t just an operating system for phones – it powers tablets, foldables, and TVs as well. While Google hasn’t shared much on upcoming features or updates for dual-screen or flex devices, it did share that this first look at Android 12 is also available for Android TVs. This allows developers to start testing their applications for the new Google TV interface the company introduced last year, and is important for a more cohesive and consistent experience on this platform.
There are many more new features in the first preview for Android 12 developers, including “rich content insertion” which would allow users to paste content from clipboards, keyboards, or drag -deposit sources. Google is also adding a bunch of new controls for privacy and security as well as an HEVC transcoder so that apps that don’t support this video format can get it in AVC format instead.
This first preview is intended for developers only, which is why Google limits it to manual downloads. If you’re a developer and want to give Android 12 a try, you can install the preview today by flashing a device’s system image on a Pixel phone (Pixel 3 and newer). Those who don’t have a Pixel device can use the Android emulator in Android Studio.