A bit over a week ago we got our first glimpse of what Android 12 could be. Each year the developer preview comes out ready for devs to test the OS and their apps in the platform. This year, so far, most of the changes appear to be a lot more about the evolution of the platform and polishing some of the little things than revolution.
The introductory blog from the Android Developers page outlines some of the philosophy behind the update, as well as some of their focussed features:
With each version, we’re working to make the OS smarter, easier to use, and better performing, with privacy and security at the core. In Android 12 we’re also working to give you new tools for building great experiences for users. Starting with things like compatible media transcoding, which helps your app to work with the latest video formats if you don’t already support them, and easier copy/paste of rich content into your apps, like images and videos.
On a further note towards future features, one area which has caused some angst for users at times is the massive updates for the OS. This will be changing as part of Android 12 with an increasing number of OS functions being updated through Google Play. Hopefully, this will result in lower data usage as well as quicker updates for stability and security.
The focus on user experience is clear when you count the number of features that are being tweaked, added or redesigned. Lots of simple things like a smarter auto-rotate system that uses the selfie camera to check the orientation of your face, not just how you’re holding the device. There are improvements in things like gestures as well, giving users a simple swipe gesture to capture screenshots and other controls over your device.
Users increased knowledge of device security is starting to show in the progression of the platform. There will be a number of changes in how and when apps will be able to access your camera and microphone. On top of this, background services will not be able to push into a foreground app without interfacing with the new API, which slows (hopefully prevents) a number of those malicious apps from launching:
To ensure a better experience for users, we will be blocking foreground service starts from the background for apps that are targeting the new platform.
The usual warning stands if you’re considering jumping on this preview. It is exactly that, an early developer preview which means much of the development isn’t finished. For “everyday users” this should be approached with caution because some feature may not be finished and others may outright be broken. A developer preview or even public beta (probably around April) are probably not suitable for a device you’re critically reliant on every day.
If you’re keen to take a look at the developer preview, you’ll need to have either an eligible Pixel device or the Android Emulator running through Android Studio.