Android 12 has been released: Here's what's new in it

Oct 4, 2021
Updated • Oct 5, 2021
Google Android

Android 12 is here (just as we predicted), Google has released the new iteration of its operating system to AOSP (Android Open Source Project). We explain what the important features that the OS brings.

Android 12 is here

Material You

Google introduced a new design language called Material You, that drastically changes the visuals of Android. It focuses on personalization, colors, fluid animations across the OS. The Notification Panel, Quick Settings, Power Button menu, have all been overhauled. Material You also includes a Wallpaper-based theming feature, that uses color extraction. It detects the dominant colors in your home screen's background, and automatically applies the colors to the notification shade, volume controls, lock screen, widgets, etc.

Android 12 Material You Dynamic Wallaper Theming

The dynamic wallpaper-theming is exclusive to Pixel devices for now, it is expected to be available for more devices in the future when Android 12.1 is released, along with some improvements for foldable devices. Google says that Android 12 is more power efficient than its predecessor, so we can expect some better battery life with it. Did you know that the codename for Android 12 is Snow Cone?  Here are some of the new widgets in the OS.

Android 12 Widgets

Privacy Dashboard

App permissions have long been an issue in Android, you never know which app can use sensitive data.

Android 12 Permission Controls

Android 12 introduces a new feature called the Privacy Dashboard. It allows you to check which apps access your microphone, camera, and location data. Use the timeline to further analyze when the apps access the data, and how often they do so. Find something you don't like, and you can revoke the permissions for the app.

Android 12 Privacy Dashboard

Google has added visual indicators that appear in the top right of the screen, to alert you when an app is using your mic, camera or location. There are a couple of new widgets that allow you to control the permissions for apps.

Android 12 Privacy Dashboard Indicators

The new OS lets you set apps to use your approximate location, instead of the precise location, to protect your privacy. Similarly, the OS will display a notification when an app is accessing the clipboard's contents.

Android 12 Privacy Dashboard Usage Stats

Quick Settings

The design isn't the only thing that has changed in the Quick Settings panel, it has some new options.

Android 12 Quick Settings

You may control access to the microphone and cameras directly from the panel. It also has shortcuts for Google Pay and Home. The new Google TV remote shortcut allows you to control your TV from your phone.

Scrolling Screenshots

Android 12 is the first version to support full-page screenshots, aka scrolling screenshots or long screenshots. The OS will display a Capture More button, after you have triggered the screenshot hotkeys, using which you can capture long screenshots. The new OS also introduces a built-in AppSearch option in the Launcher, to help you quickly find apps that you have installed on your device.

Quick Tap

The Quick Tap gesture is an interesting addition in Android 12. Pixel phones that are compatible will allow you to execute commands when you double tap the rear panel of your device, to bring up the Google Assistant.


Android 12 also brings some useful accessibility features to assist people.  Users with speech or motor disabilities can make use of Android 12's facial gestures, to control their device. The feature, which is part of the Project Activate app, detects movement such as when the user turns their head, moves their eyes, etc. to perform preset actions. The Lookout app that has been designed to assist users with visual impairments, has a new handwriting recognition feature, which will read aloud handwritten and on-screen text in Latin-based languages.

One-handed Mode

Phones are getting bigger each year, and it's really difficult to reach the top of the screen using just one hand. Well, not anymore, Google has added support for one-handed mode in Android 12, enabling which allows you access the top portion more easily.

Google Assistant and Android Auto

Google Assistant now supports reminders and to-do tasks, to make your daily life easier. The Assistant app in Android 12 brings a Driving Mode that replaces the Android Auto app. It will also let you unlock your car with your phone using NFC and UWB (on supported vehicles). The app can now select the SIM to use (in case you're using Dual SIM cards), while making calls via Android Auto.

Though Android 12 has been released officially, the update is not yet available for Pixel devices.  Google says that the update will roll out to the Pixel phones in a few weeks, and to some Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Tecno, Vivo, and Xiaomi devices later this year.

Image Credits: Android Developers Blog

Google will host its annual Android Dev Summit from October 27-28th, perhaps we will hear more about Android 12.1 during the event?

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  1. Anonymous said on October 5, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    So much wasted space, inefficient design.

  2. ULBoom said on October 5, 2021 at 2:05 am

    So much stuff to disable. Black mode looks like an old crt monitor about to go poof!

    I have a pixel on 11. The best thing about basic android is it looks kinda awful/bland and is easily customizable into something that looks nice.

  3. Anonymous said on October 5, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Nothing that customs ROMs didn’t already have, without the eye-candy and google restrictions on the device owner. Android and Windows are competing, it seems.

  4. Anonymous said on October 4, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    The design looks terrible. Everything is overly round. Thank god for ROMs.

  5. Franck said on October 4, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    At least, it’s great news for one-hand mode!

  6. Carlos said on October 4, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    And then there is the forced splash screens for all apps, all of which must look essentially the same. Ugh!

    So much for “Together but not the same”.

    Oh Google, how far you have fallen.

  7. Carlos said on October 4, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    I concur with Artem. To me, Android 12 is the ugliest version of Android since version 3. I really really dislike the rounded corners on everything.

    I find it odd that Google claims that this version increases personalization and yet forces rounded corners on everything with no option for anything else.

    For me, the worst place for round corners is widgets (although, those rounded quick settings are really close to being as uncompelling). Home replacement apps (Nova et. al) have spared us from the shackles of app icons all being the same shape (and as a result, difficult to distiguish between them). I am hoping that home replacement apps free us from the shackles of forced round corners on widgets.

  8. ilev said on October 4, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    great news for 0.01% of Android smartphone users who will get the update.

  9. Artem S. Tashkinov said on October 4, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    In terms of visuals it’s the worst Android release ever.

    It’s very low contrast, information density has decreased even further, there’s a ton of white space.

    I miss KitKat so much. It was a pinnacle of Android.

    1. BrettElias said on October 11, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      This looks like a toy designed for 5 year old kids. Rounded corners, white or creamy colors and very specific bright color points, with big BIG text and huge empty spaces so the message is clear.

      Year after year everything is dumber and dumber.

    2. Jeff M.S. said on October 5, 2021 at 8:22 pm

      I agree EXACTLY. Design-wise KitKat was the pinnacle of Android except some important improvements like Doze mode that followed in later Androids. All these newer releases reduce information density and widely space more things more and more=more scrolling all the time. Concept of making everything look pretty has COMPLETELY taken over functional and productive. And yet the design isn’t particularly beautiful.

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