With Android 12, the world’s most-used mobile operating system continues its steady march of carving out its unique selling points and finding differentiators from Apple’s iOS. Available for Pixel 3 and beyond, the new OS beefs up some of the strengths in the operating system, while adding some new features along the way.
When everyone has a phone that looks essentially like every other smartphone ever made, personalization becomes more important. That’s why Google brings the Material You feature to the OS — when you change your wallpaper, the entire Android 12 experience changes to match its colors. The OS includes color extraction algorithms which helps everything looks integrated and slick. Everything is personalizable, including the lock screen, notifications, settings, widgets and even apps. Material You comes to Pixel first, and will be rolled out to devices from other device makers further down the line.
Security and privacy are other themes across the OS. For example, Android 12 enables you to keep your precise location private from apps that, strictly, only need an approximate location to work their magic. You also can see when an app is using your mic or camera, with a new status-bar indicator. And if you want to turn off your camera and mic across the entire OS, you can turn them off in the Quick Settings with a pair of new toggles. The OS also adds additional features to lock down apps you’ve forgotten about, by automatically revoking permissions from apps after several months of lack of use.
The OS also finally divorces the connection between location and Bluetooth. As Google puts it: “While your wireless headphones need to connect to your phone, they probably don’t need to know where you are.” Android 12 makes that possible at long last.
Google introduced a ton of new Android features for Google Lens in previous releases of the OS — you can do optical character recognition on any screen shot, for example. Android 12 adds additional extensions to that functionality, such as “scrolling screen shots.” Just because you reach the end of your screen doesn’t mean you need to reach the end of your screenshot. New scrolling screenshots will allow you to capture all the content on the page in one image. Clever!
The new features extend beyond functionality; Android 12 also brings power-saving and better accessibility features. The company is also rolling out hot-updates, so you can keep using an app even while an update for the very same app is downloading and installing in the background. God forbid you’d have to put down Pokémon GO for a couple of minutes.
Google’s Android 12 operating system is rolling out to supported phones starting today.