Google plans to release Android 12 this fall, when it will begin rolling out to phones from Google and other companies. But the company has been making beta versions available for the past few months to allow developers (and early adopters) to test new features and changes.
The latest is Android 12 Beta 3, and it includes the finalized software development kit and APIs that developers can use to prepare their apps for Android 12. For users, it also introduces a number of new and/or improved features.
For example, Google is introducing an enhanced auto-rotate feature that uses a phone’s front-facing camera to help figure out when the screen should rotate and when it should stay still. Anyone who’s ever had their screen shift constantly when using an Android phone while lying down will probably notice a difference here.
Google says the new auto-rotate functionality is available on Pixel 4 and later phones, and it’s designed with privacy in mind – images are not stored or sent to Google’s servers. It’s also an optional feature that can be enabled or disabled by users. It’s unclear whether face-based auto-rotation will be available for non-Pixel phones.
But the company says it’s also managed to make screen auto-rotation 25% faster on all devices by updating the animation and redrawing method and using a new machine learning-driven gesture-detection algorithm.
Other changes in Android 12 Beta 3 include:
- Scrolling Screenshots: A “capture more” button appears when you try to save a screenshot that’s scrollable, allowing you to, for example, capture the entire Android Settings menu and not just the part that’s visible on the screen when you first start to capture the screenshot. You can use a crop tool to select some or all of the scrollable content.
- On-device search: There’s a new “high-performance on-device search engine” available to apps.
- Privacy Indicator updates: The indicators introduced in Beta 2 that show you when an app is using your camera or mic, can now be displayed when an app is in full-screen, immersive mode.
- Camera and mic toggles: These Quick Settings toggles that let you disable the hardware now support enterprise administration, so IT managers can set restrictions.
- Game Mode APIs: Game developers can tie into the upcoming game dashboard, allowing games to react to users’ performance profile selections to prioritize performance, battery life, etc.
- Play as you download: Users can begin playing supported games while they’re still downloading from the Play Store.
Google plans to offer at least one more Android 12 Beta in August before releasing the stable version of the operating system this fall.
If you want to take the latest beta for a spin, you can sign up for the Android Beta program with an eligible device.