Google today releases a developer preview of Android 12, the next version of Android for Pixel devices. As is Google’s standard, the first preview of Android contains many changes for developers. Android 12 has updated how the OS handles images, videos, and future security updates.
It’s also common for Google to withhold some of the major UI changes for the Google I / O conference, which usually takes place in May. This developer preview contains some changes to the UI for notifications, but until you install it, you won’t know how close it is to the leak you saw earlier this month.
It’s available on Pixel 3 and later smartphones, but you’ll need to flash the device and install it manually. Although it may not be ready for everyday use, Google has promised to continue its beta program for regular users later this year.
The point of this first preview is to provide a jump start for developers to prepare their apps for the new version of Android, but there are still features that should make a concrete difference to the user. Specifically, Android will become familiar with the processing of different types of media.
Google did not pre-provide images of the Android 12 user interface. We will update this post with details and images as soon as possible.
New media format for Android 12
There is a new transcoding layer that will automatically work in apps that do not natively support the HEVC video format. Currently, if you choose to shoot with HEVC on your Android phone, third-party apps may not be able to use the video natively. The new transcoding layers in these apps give users more confidence in their transitions.
Android 12 supports spatial audio, MPEG-H support, and is optimized for up to 24 channels of audio (from the previous 8 channels). It also makes it easy for developers to connect rumble effects to audio.
Google seems to cast its weight behind the AV1 image file format, also known as AVIF. AVIF aims to replace JPG as a de facto image format, with few artifacts and much better clean compression. Netflix in particular is a big supporter of this format. If AV1 sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a derivative of the AV1 video format proposed by major tech companies a few years ago, and is partially adopted by both Netflix and Google. AVIF should not be confused with similar HEIFs that Apple cameras have taken for some time.
According to Google, this is just the first step, as we don’t intend to make AVIF the default image format for camera apps.
Sticking to multimedia, Android 12 is a good place to move different types of media between apps. Create a new rich content insertion API that allows you to cut and paste or drag and drop multiple types of content, including plain text such as markup, images, videos, and audio files, and styled text.
Leaked look of Android 12. At the time of publication, I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it’s consistent with Google’s description in the blog post.Image: XDA-Developers Android 12 interface changes
To get a closer look at the changes that Google is currently introducing, you’ll need to install Developer Preview yourself. The blog post describes the new features in jargon. It’s a safe bet that what Google is showing today is a hint for bigger changes planned later this year. It’s still unclear if these changes actually match the leaked screenshot above.
Here’s how we describe the changes we’re making to our notifications:
We’ve updated the notification design to make it more modern, easier to use, and more functional. In this first preview you will notice the change from the drawers and controls to the template itself. We’ve also optimized system-wide transitions and animations to make them smoother. As part of the update, the Android 12 app targeted custom content with icons to decorate notifications and extend affordances to match all other notifications.
The app’s icon matches the leaked screenshot above, but this also doesn’t necessarily mean what the final version will look like. The magnified affordances also line up the downward carets you can see in the screenshot above, which will be easier to tap than the current system. Google also states that it requires developers to use an API that allows apps to open in the right place more quickly when a user taps a notification.
Finally, Google says it will change how Android 12 works with full-screen apps such as videos, Kindle books, and video games. Currently, two gestures are often required to exit these apps. One is to display the UI and the other is to actually exit. Google says that Android 12 will change the default so that users can navigate their smartphones with a single swipe.
Changes under the hood
In 2019, instead of waiting for carriers to push major updates, Google began updating certain components deep inside the Android OS. Called the project mainline, it meant that Google could use the Google Play infrastructure to publish security updates for key parts of Android. Since then, we’ve added Android to our mainline system. The major addition of Android 12 to this system is the Android Runtime (ART), which is the basic subsystem for running Android apps. The media transcoder mentioned above is also a mainline module.
Android 12 has some privacy and security updates, but they don’t show up as noticeable to users. The WebView engine used by third-party apps uses one of Chrome’s latest cookie settings called SameSite. This may reduce tracking.Google has more privacy and security features [will be] It will be available in a later preview release.
Android has recently begun asking apps to pop notifications when they need to perform background activities that turn out to be really distracting. On Android 12, Google states that it will block the launch of foreground services from the background and redirect developers to the new API. If any of these background activities can end in less than 10 seconds, you may not need to see any notifications.
Google will also soon release an Android 12 preview for Android TV. This includes the opportunity for developers to test their apps on Google’s own Google TV platform.
Next to Android 12
Google is releasing a developer preview today, but again, it’s actually for developers because it needs to flash the system image of the device. According to Google, it works on Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, Pixel 4/4 XL, Pixel 4a / 4a 5G, or Pixel 5 devices, or developers can easily run it within the Android emulator.
There is a public beta at some point, but it is expected to take several months. And if Google follows past habits, there will be a more comprehensive survey of what will happen on Android 12 in May (or perhaps June).
Last year, the stability release of the Android platform took place in early July, but this year Google is targeting August, with an official release usually shortly thereafter. This can mean that Android 12 will arrive a little later than usual.
In the meantime, we and others will delve into the developer preview to see what other details can be found. Often, enough tips are scattered throughout the code to provide a good idea of Google’s final plan for Android.
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