The Android 12 beta is officially here. After having three developer previews, Google announced the first beta for Android 12 at Google I/O this week.
With the release of the first beta, we’re finally getting a look at the new features that we’ll see this fall, as well as the heavily redesigned interface that includes Material You.
Since Android has matured as an operating system, we don’t see many huge updates for the platform as a whole. But Android 12 is the biggest update in years. While there’s not a boatload of new features, there are some huge changes to the UI, and the design of the operating system.
Here’s everything you need to know about the next version of Android – Android 12.
When will Android 12 be available?
The first developer preview was released on February 18, 2021. However, the final stable version that will be available for the Google Pixel, won’t be released until Q3. In previous years, that meant the Tuesday after Labor Day in September. So we’d expect a similar timeline this year.
- Developer Preview 1 released on February 18, 2021
- Developer Preview 2 released on March 17, 2021
- Developer Preview 3 released on April 21, 2021
- Beta 1 released on May 18, 2021
- Beta 2 released on June 9, 2021
- Beta 3 release on July 14, 2021
How many developer previews and betas will there be?
Typically, Google does two developer previews for new versions of Android. Then moves onto the “Beta” phase.
This year, there are going to be three developer previews actually. February through April will see Developer previews. With the first beta coming in May. Likely at what will amount to being Google I/O this year – which undoubtedly will be virtual only. There will then be three betas in May, June, July and the release candidate coming in August. The RC is technically a beta, but it has the final APIs and is essentially the final version.
Google will then release the final version of Android 12 for all eligible Pixel devices in Q3. Which is likely to be around September of 2021.
What devices will be compatible with the developer previews?
Developer previews are generally only compatible with Pixel devices. Android 12 is compatible with the following Pixel devices:
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3a XL
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 4 XL
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4a 5G
- Pixel 5
Other OEMs don’t typically roll out developer previews for their phones. That usually happens within the beta phase.
Update: The Android 12 Beta is also available on these devices now.
What devices will work with the Android 12 Beta?
This year, ASUS, OnePlus, OPPO, TCL, Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE, Sharp, Tecno and realme are all supporting the Android 12 Beta.
Devices that are compatible include:
- Asus Zenfone 8
- OnePlus 9, 9 Pro
- Oppo Find X3 Pro (model CPH2173)
- TCL 20 Pro 5G
- Vivo iQOO 7
- Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11I, Mi 11X Pro
- ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
- as well as models from Sharp, Tecno, and Realme
You can head here to find instructions on how to update your phone to the Android 12 beta.
What dessert name is Android 12 going to have?
Even though Google stopped using dessert names with new versions of Android, back with Android 10, it still uses them internally. And for Android 12, that name is “Snow Cone”. Android 12 Snow Cone does sound pretty good. Too bad, we won’t be seeing that used in official marketing material. But still cool to see what the name was going to be.
What features can we expect in Android 12?
Google has announced a slew of features for Android 12, but a lot of them are not yet available in the first beta. Many of these are coming in the second beta or a bit later. But here’s a quick round up of what features we are seeing in Android 12 already.
At Google I/O, the company’s head of design, Matias Duarte took the stage to announce ‘Material You’. Which is the next evolution of design for Google.
Essentially, it makes Material Design a bit more personal. As the colors will change to fit your wallpaper. And with millions of different colors available, it’s likely that no one will have the same theme available on their smartphone. And this extends further than just through the settings, quick settings and the home screen. But also through all the apps on your smartphone.
With Material You, Google has taken a page out of Samsung’s book. With One UI, the Settings app consisted of bigger tap areas, and using the bottom two-thirds of the display. Making it easier to use on a larger device. And that’s exactly what Google has done here. Quick Settings are also much larger now.
This was much leaked ahead of the beta announcement at Google I/O. But the Privacy Dashboard is going to make it easier to control what apps are using what permissions. Going to the Privacy Dashboard, you can see how many times your camera or microphone have been used in the past 24 hours. As well as seeing exactly when each app used it.
The point here is to make it easier to keep your data private, and educate users on what permissions are being used by certain apps.
Along with the Privacy Dashboard, there are also new indicators for when the camera and microphone are being used. These will show up in the right-hand corner, and then transition into a green light. This is similar to what Apple has done with iOS over the past few years. So you can easily tell if the camera and/or microphone is being used.
Additionally, you’ll see Quick Settings tiles available for revoking those two permissions in that app. So you can revoke permission to the camera, without having to leave the app and dig into settings to find the option.
These features are not yet available, Google says it will debut in the second beta for Android 12, next month.
Android Private Compute Core
This is a bit of a boring feature for Android 12, but it is a big deal. The Android Private Compute Core is not a physical chipset inside of Android, but more of a sandboxed part of Android for doing all of the AI features that it has.
To put it simply, the Android Private Compute Core will run a bunch of the machine learning functions. Walling it off from the rest of the OS means that it is not able to access the network. Keeping your data on your phone, and not in the cloud. The only way it can communicate, is with specific APIs. Which are supposedly open source.
Basically, Google has nerfed the powers of artificial intelligence. Keeping it all local.
The built-in Android TV remote
When we first heard about the Android TV remote for Android 12, we didn’t think it was a big deal. But now that Google has explained what exactly it is, this is huge.
With Android 12, there will now be a built-in Android TV remote. That can be used on the Chromecast with Google TV, Sony Android TVs and other Android TV devices. This remote will make it easy to not only control your TV, but also login to different apps on your TV.
This is not yet available in Android 12, but it should come in the next beta (or maybe Beta 3).
How can I download Android 12?
Now that the beta is available for Android 12, you can easily enroll your Pixel device into the program. This means that you will get the update over the air, and it’s super simple to install. It is around 1.88GB in size, so it’s rather large, and will take some time to install.
If you don’t own a Pixel, it’ll be a bit more difficult to install the Android 12 beta on your smartphone. And you can check here for instructions on how to do just that.