release date, compatible smartphones, new features, all about the update

After an Android 11 that was not really revolutionary, but which nevertheless brought better stability and an even richer experience in terms of interface and functionalities, it is Android 12’s turn to take over. Availability, news… here is everything we know about the next Android update.

Android 12 is the next major update to Google’s mobile operating system. As since Android 10, no dessert or candy-based code name here, we are satisfied with a number to identify this new version of our favorite OS. Who will have the right to a redesign of the interface and the integration of several features with this update.

When is Android 12 released?

We will still have to be patient before having the release date of the stable version of Android 12. In February, a first preview dedicated to developers will be launched, followed by several others in the months that follow. These are great ways to know in advance the new features of the update, although not all of them will be present from the first developer preview.

We will also know more during the conference Google I / O which is usually held in May. The 2020 edition had been canceled due to the health situation, but Google should prepare a virtual event for us this year. Following this, a public beta Android 12 should be made available to users on a limited selection of smartphones, including the Pixels of course. Several beta builds should follow one another until official launch of Android 12, scheduled for late August or early December.

Which smartphones are compatible with Android 12?

On the day of the official release of Android 12, only a handful of mobiles will be able to benefit from the stable update. In particular all models of Google pixel which are scheduled for an upgrade. A very good student for years, Essential is struggling and dropping out of the smartphone market, so its software monitoring is not as excellent as before.

In the days that follow, the first smartphones from third-party manufacturers will be served, starting with the models that participated in the beta program. Usually the last OnePlus high-end are concerned. Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme and Vivo should manage to integrate at least one flagship each in this reduced list. Huawei of course will not be entitled to it, and Honor will probably have to wait until next year to get back in the good graces of Google. Samsung is accelerating year after year, but isn’t the fastest at rolling out updates.

Android 12

Smartphones running Android Stock or belonging to the Android One program usually receive the update quickly, especially if they are recent. This particularly concerns entry-level devices from the Nokia and Motorola brands. Some Xiaomi references are also on Android One.

When manufacturers communicate on the subject, here we will establish a precise list of devices compatible with Android 12, as well as the deployment schedule planned by the brands.

How to install Android 12?

Android updates have changed a lot since the early days of the OS. Now, these are almost transparent, they are downloaded in the background on the smartphone and partially install on the device while the user can continue to enjoy their device. The latter is finally immobilized only a few minutes at the end of the procedure. Updates are becoming more and more painless.

The stable version of Android 12 will of course be available in OTA (Over The Air), that is to say that it will be automatically offered to the user when his device is ready to receive it. For the beta, it’s different and the procedure varies depending on the manufacturer of your compatible smartphone. You usually need to sign up for an insider program to be able to download the beta. Visit your brand’s official website to find out more.

Android 12

With Android 12 comes the installation of system updates via the Play Store. Android Runtime (ART) becomes a simple component of the Project Mainline of Google, which materializes to finally overcome the slowness of the manufacturers to offer updates to their customers. A component producer will thus be able to publish an update and make it available to as many people as possible quickly and simply without having to go through the smartphone manufacturer, which is not always quick to make updates available to users. Google itself benefits from this since it will be able to deploy its security updates on a large scale via its application store and without the intervention of the manufacturer. Finally, they can with Mainline update critical system components discreetly, without the user even noticing. In short, this means more security and performance for our Android smartphones.

In theory, Google can also make Android more stable and much more efficient by making the behavior of the Android Runtime module the same for all devices. But it is unlikely that such a decision will be made, because then, manufacturers would be much more limited in terms of adding functionality and customization of the interface on their overlays. Android would in this case become an iOS-like, a situation difficult to imagine in the short or medium term.

What are the new features of Android 12?

Now mature, Android doesn’t get as many new features every year as it once did. But Android 12 still brings its share of improvements, some unprecedented, others inspired by what we already find on some overlay manufacturers.

Installing apps through third-party stores at the Play Store

In its early days, Android was the famously open mobile operating system, on which nothing was impossible. But in the face of criticism related to security issues, Google has gradually closed the OS on itself, excluding many third-party services and revoking system permissions, as iOS does, without of course closing the latter. . Voices were raised, regretting what made the identity of Android. And Google has decided to open a door by making it easier to install apps through alternative stores to the Play Store on Android 12.

“Some developers have given us feedback on how we can further improve the user experience for individuals who install apps from other stores”, said Sameer Samat, vice president for Android and Google Play activities. Among the alternatives to the Play Store, we have of course the manufacturers’ application stores: Galaxy Store at Samsung, App Gallery at Huawei… but also the Amazon App Store, or even the historical Aptoide and F-Droid.

Huawei App Gallery
Huawei App Gallery

For the moment, Google has not detailed how it intends to go about facilitating the installation of applications that do not come from the Play Store.

Peer App

Via Android 12, Google offers us a redesign of multitasking on mobile. With App Pairs, sharing the screen between two applications becomes more convenient. Currently, screen sharing works like this: two tasks rotate, and they are each displayed on one half of the screen. On Android 12, the two apps in question will be merged into a single task for improved performance and user experience.

In this way, it becomes possible to quit the task to perform other actions, open other apps, enter the smartphone menus … then return to the created task to find its split screen with the two apps, as in had left him. It will be possible to interact with both applications at the same time, for example to scroll on a social network while controlling the playback of a video.

Android 12 Peer App
Interface mockup of what App Pairs could look like on Android. Made by 9To5Google.

In its One UI overlay, Samsung already offers a function called “App Pair”. With it, the user can even create a shortcut to quickly open the two split screen apps. It is not known if the option introduced in the native version of Android 12 will also allow this. What is certain is that we can choose two applications to be launched in multitasking from the task manager.

“Hibernation” of applications

Android 12 will put unused apps into hibernation, a kind of hibernation. When an application installed on the smartphone has not been opened by the user for a certain time, the system will automatically take care of placing it in hibernation. In this state, the app requires less storage space and consumes less resources in the background, implying a performance boost for the smartphone. A priori, it will not be possible to choose oneself to hibernate certain applications.

A good solution for all those apps that we refuse to uninstall, because “They can be used one day”. It looks like this feature uses a method of compressing APK and other app related files to save storage space. It was described in the source code of Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Hopefully its development will advance quickly to benefit from it from Android 12 and not have to wait another year to see it land on our mobiles.

Themes to customize the colors of the applications

The next update should also bring its share of aesthetic novelties. Android 12 could make it possible to customize the colors of the applications via more advanced options in the themes. It would then be a question of choosing a main color and another secondary which would then apply to the system, but also to the compatible applications. The possibilities for customizing the interface have changed little in recent years on the stock version of Android, apart from the native implementation of dark mode. This could help give it some color.

Note that this is to select a theme grouping two colors for the entire software, not here to choose application by application the desired combination. The feature is still under development and needs to be tested, it is not yet certain whether it will find its place on Android 12. It is also possible that a theme allows you to adjust the colors automatically according to the wallpaper. mobile to create aesthetic consistency.

WiFi network sharing

To connect to the WiFi network of a friend or relative when you are not at home, it is anything but practical to have to enter the password, especially if the only way to obtain it is to look on the router. Currently on Android, a solution to save time and comfort is to present a QR code from an already connected device, which it suffices to scan to obtain authorization to enter the network. It’s already much more practical, but not yet very fluid, especially if the person does not know how to scan a QR code or does not have an application allowing it on their mobile.

Android 12 should fix this with a new way of sharing the WiFi network to a third party device, similar to what can be found on iOS. This could happen with receiving a notification when a new device tries to connect. An option would then appear on the screen to confirm that the device is authorized to access the WiFi network without having to enter the password. This also eliminates the need to be side by side to share WiFi.

The scrolling screenshots

Android’s native screenshot tool is quite limited, only allowing you to capture what’s visible on the screen. With Android 12, we could have a function to take a screenshot of a whole web page or an application, even if a part of it is only available by scrolling. The interfaces of Samsung, OnePlus or Huawei smartphones are already capable of this, this integration into Android Stock could make it possible to benefit from it on models from other brands.

WireGuard VPN compatible

Once again, it was XDA Developers who spotted this novelty. Google has added WireGuard VPN support to the Linux kernel that Android uses. This new VPN protocol should therefore be natively supported on Android 12, which is good news as virtual network services are popular at the moment, both for data security and confidentiality issues and for the convenience of accessing content. geoblocked.

WireGuard Android 12

A single media player

It was on Reddit that an engineer from the Android team explained that Google was looking to unify the multimedia experience on Android, which can be a bit messy because of the multiple possibilities offered to play content. This can become confusing for the user since each reader has different functionality and interface. And for developers, that means having to juggle multiple APIs. A single media playback solution based on ExoPlayer is under development, with the objective of bringing together all the important options in one place while maintaining great ease of use. However, it is not announced that this ultimate player will be available from Android 12.

Access to the application network

How about we talk about security again? While breaking down the source code for the Android Open Source Project, an author from XDA Developers stumbled upon the description of what looks like a restricted network mode. Once activated, this blocks the sending and receiving of data to applications which are not whitelisted, and which therefore have not been manually authorized by the user to access the Internet.

For the moment, the project seems to be in its scraps. It is not certain that this mode appears from Android 12, or at least not in a full version. Lines of code suggest that Android could initially use this feature in the background without human intervention to enhance security, before why not let the owner of the smartphone adjust this option himself in the future.

A Google Pixel exclusive

It is common for Google to reserve certain new features for its Pixel smartphones only. If they are successful and the hardware of most Android smartphones allows them to access them, then it is possible that these features will eventually land on other brands of mobiles.

pixel 5
The Google Pixel 5

With Android 12, an option reserved for Pixel smartphones could be the double pat on the back. It’s actually a new Motion Sense gesture that was expected from Android 11, but has not been made available so far. It was present on the first two preview versions of the OS reserved for developers, before being withdrawn from stable builds. Google felt that the feature was too often activated by accident since it was enough to tap the back of the smartphone twice in a row to trigger it.

The Mountain View firm has revised its copy for this year, and if the same gesture of double tapping on the back has been retained, the sensitivity has been reduced in order to reduce the risk of accidental activation. By default, this gesture should allow you to invoke Google Assistant. But the user will have the choice to configure it to perform the action of his choice: take a screenshot, open notifications or the camera, access the task manager, start or stop media playback. .

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