As for the finished version, expect the Google Pixel 6 to come with Android 12 on it in September or October.
Android 12 is the 2021 update for Google's Android operating system, building on 2020's Android 11, which some phones still don't have. But this is more than just an iterative update - Google describes it as the biggest design change in Android's history.
We've listed all the official Android 12 features that have been showcased at Google IO, and we'll update this article as soon as we learn more – and continue updating it as Android 12 rolls out to phones.
Android 12 was announced at Google IO 2021, and is out in beta for select devices now, including phones from Oppo, Nokia, OnePlus, Xiaomi, ZTE, Asus, TCL and iQOO - as well of course as plenty of Pixels. You can find the full list in the section below.
The final finished version of Android 12 will likely land in September or October based on past releases of the OS, though most likely only on a small number of handsets to begin with, such as the Google Pixel 5 and Google Pixel 4a, along with the upcoming Google Pixel 6, assuming such a phone launches.
It will be up to device manufacturers to bring Android 12 to your phone, and that often takes months to do, so don’t be surprised if your specific handset doesn’t get Android 12 until 2022.
Android 12: Refreshed UI
Google has announced a new Material Design language for Android 12, called Material You, which is a rethink of the whole UI across the operating system.
The current beta brings more rounded buttons, more varied colors, smoother motion and animations, and much more.
The company calls it color extraction, where you can pick a wallpaper and the system will automatically apply the dominant, complimentary and best looking colors from it to the rest of the UI, including the notification shade, the lock screen, and volume controls.
So everything is much more unified this time, something which Google was keen to highlight. Before, the color scheme and even the fonts would look mismatched, but here, everything has been redesigned to look as unified as possible in Android 12.
This customizable theme is also coming to Google's web apps by the end of the year.
Widgets see a redesign too, looking much more rounded this time. Due to iOS 14 showcasing widgets last year, it only made sense for Android 12 to see a redesign in this area too, where its appearance will match the color extraction you've picked.
The Quick Settings panel has also had an overhaul, with Google Pay and smart home controls added to it.
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Android 12: privacy and security
Google have made it a point this year of making sure that privacy is at the center of Android 12. The company repeated the point of privacy being at the forefront this year, and that includes Android 12.
The Android Private Compute Core is the engine behind Android 12's privacy features, making sure that the apps and the phone are following the privacy settings enabled by you.
To start with, the new privacy dashboard gives you an overall view of apps using the phone's location, camera, contacts, and much more.
However, a nice touch here is a simple overview in the form of a pie chart, of what has been accessed by the apps over the last 24 hours.
The notification center also has a quick access to disable any features of the phone that an app is using. For example, if Facebook is using the microphone while you're using another app, this part of notification center will show you explicitly that Facebook is using the microphone. Pressing this will disable the use of it to Facebook, and other apps if you wish.
You can also opt to only provide an approximate location to some apps, such as weather apps which don't need to know exactly where you are.
And with features like Live Caption, Now Playing and Smart Reply, all of the audio and language processing happens on your device, so the data isn't sent elsewhere.
There's also locked folders, available across apps, which allow you to lock a specific folder with a fingerprint.
And there's the ability to unlock a Chromebook using your phone. Similar to the Apple Watch unlock feature for an Apple Mac, it will be a matter of having your Android 12 smartphone near to a Chromebook, and it will bring you to the home screen.
Finally, when using an app such as the camera, there will be a subtle UI hint that certain features of the camera are being used, similar to how it shows in Apple's iOS 14.