Android 12: A New Look and Feel for Your Phone
The long-awaited Android 12 has finally arrived, bringing with it the most significant visual overhaul we’ve seen in seven years. In addition to visual changes, Android 12 delivers exciting new features and improved privacy controls that are sure to enhance your experience. This stable launch represents just the beginning of a fresh chapter for Android, particularly in terms of design. Pixel owners get to experience a taste of the future today.
If you don’t want to miss more updates like this, be sure to subscribe to Android Central on YouTube. In this article, we’ll dive deep into what’s new in Android 12, starting with the latest iteration of Google’s design language – Material U.
Material U: A Next-Gen Design Language
Material U is Google’s new design language that replaces its earlier versions, with Material Design being its first iteration back in 2014. This design language has come a long way and has been evolving continuously, culminating in Material U, which represents version 2.0 of the Google design language.
The earlier iteration of Material Design marked the second great Android design revolution, following Holo in Android 4. Material U takes this revolution forward with a colorful selection of accent colors pulled from the material palette to complement your home screen background. This update allows you to add a personal touch to the most personal computer you own, with a range of subtle or punchy accent colors to match your wallpaper.
Material U sports wider, rounded corners and a curvier, chunkier feel, in contrast to the sharp edges and drop shadows of previous design iterations. Widgets, too, have been updated, and their corners are now rounder, matching the rest of the UI.
With Material U, widgets’ interface bits are thicker, like the clock hands in the clock widget, the volume/brightness sliders, and the pattern lock. There’s also a new bouncy, stretchy overflow animation for lists and other surfaces, which feels more organic. Additionally, there are new animated flourishes for locking or unlocking your phone and launching an app from a widget.
Google Sans is now the main UI font on Pixel phones, replacing Roboto, which we have been using since 2011. Roboto is still there in places, particularly in third-party apps, but Google Sans now dominates, bringing more personality to the system.
The material U update includes bigger, bolder text throughout the UI. The system clock expands to fill the lock screen when there are no notifications, and the settings page headers fill the top quarter when you scroll to the top, much like Samsung’s One UI. This aesthetic choice makes the interface easier to navigate on devices with bigger screens.
The New Notification Panel and Quick Settings
Android 12 brings significant changes to the notification panel and quick settings, the former of which features a slick new animation for pulling down the notification slider. The quick-setting toggles are now shown as rounded rectangles instead of circular buttons, with new internet tabs that make it possible to toggle between wifi and cellular data or switch between networks.
If you want to share your wifi details, you can do that through Google’s nearby share, which is often simpler than scanning a QR code from someone else’s phone. You can access new quick settings shortcuts for Google Pay and smart home controls on the lock screen once you’ve set them up. Android 12 also grants users the ability to stop certain apps from cluttering up the media control cards introduced in Android 11.
The launcher has undergone significant improvements, with the At A Glance (AA) section at the top, which displays more information at once, and new widgets, such as the stylized analog clock and weather widgets that take on the wallpaper’s colors. The new conversation widget highlights an essential chat or group chat from recent notifications along with recent messages.
Privacy: The Next Major Feature in Android 12
Another significant feature of Android 12 is privacy. The new privacy dashboard helps keep tabs on which apps are using sensitive permissions such as location, microphone, and camera and how often they access them. For apps tracking your location or using your phone’s camera or mic, a dot or icon appears in the status bar, notifying you of what’s taking place and which app is responsible.
For location specifically, Android 12 allows you to control how much information apps can get, whether precise or approximate, whenever you grant location permission. There are also new quick setting toggles that allow you to kill the microphone and camera immediately, should you need to. This privacy-focused approach continues trends started in Android 10 and Android 11, allowing you to give apps just enough data to work properly without giving away more personal data than you want to.
Many of the Pixel’s AI capabilities on Android 12, such as Live Transcribe, which might handle sensitive personal info, now run in the Private Compute Core, which is siloed, similar to how face and fingerprint data is handled.
Battery Life and Gaming Optimizations on Android 12
Although recent Pixel phones have decent battery life, Google has overhauled its battery settings in Android 12, offering you a clearer idea of what’s consuming power. Battery usage for the past 24 hours is displayed, and you can further investigate screen on time and app-wise power consumption. You can even put troublesome apps or games in battery jail to stop them from consuming power in the background.
Android 12 brings some great news for gaming enthusiasts. The release features the built-in game dashboard on Pixel phones, which allows users to track their frame rate, take screenshots and videos, or even stream to YouTube live. You also have settings for optimizing the phone’s performance or battery life when playing supported games.
The update also includes new haptic APIs, allowing developers to tie vibration feedback more easily to the audio coming out of the speakers. Beyond gaming, Android 12 features many other useful functionalities that aim to help stock android catch up with some of the features seen in phones from other companies.
Considering the significant visual overhaul brought by Material U and privacy measures implemented in the new update, Android 12 represents a significant milestone for the Android operating system. For now, it is only available for Pixel phones, and we expect other phone manufacturers to adapt the new design language and update their phones accordingly.