When Google first announced it was working on Android 12L, the company described it as an update focused on tablets and foldables thanks to new features optimized for large screen displays.
But now that Android 12L is out of beta, guess which devices will be the first to run Android 12L software? Google’s Pixel phones. You’ll have to wait until later this year for Android 12L to roll out to tablets and foldables from Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo that can take full advantage of the new operating system. But Google does have a some new goodies in store for more traditional phones.
The biggest changes in Android 12L include a new layout for use on large screen devices, with a taskbar on the bottom of the screen and support for multi-pane views for Quick Settings, notifications, and settings. This makes it easier, for example, to view Quick Settings and notifications at the same time in a two-column layout.
But Android 12L also brings a number of more subtle tweaks to smartphones that don’t have tablet-sized displays.
The operating system is rolling out now for the Pixel 3a and later, and Android 12.1 OTA images are available from Google’s developer site. And 9to5Google has a roundup of everything they could find that’s new, including:
- App pairs feature that lets you group two apps in split-screen mode and quickly re-open that same pair of apps from the Recents view
- User interface tweaks including an updated sound and vibration settings menu, larger widget selection pop-up screen, and a weather section in the widgets selection screen
- Quick wallpaper switcher for the Pixel launcher
- An icon in picture-in-picture videos that lets you keep the video running in split-screen
- Airplane mode toggle that pops up when you tap the Internet Quick Settings shortcut when it’s enabled, allowing you to quickly exit airplane mode or keep it on and just enable WiFi
Keep in mind that some of these features may be exclusive to Google’s Pixel devices, while others may eventually make their way to other phones when Android 12L becomes more widely available.
Speaking o Pixel-exclusive features though, Google is also now rolling out a new Pixel Feature Drop for the Pixel 3a through 5a (with Pixel 6 feature drops coming later this month).
Among other things, the feature drop brings:
- Pixel Battery widget with details for your phone and connected devices
- Live Caption support in phone calls, with real-time transcription of the voice on the other end of a call
- Interpreter mode for Live Translate on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, for real-time translations of conversations between English, Spanish, Italian, and French
- Sticker integration with the Gboard keyboard app, with suggested stickers appearing as you type.
- Support for Night Sight photography in Snapchat
Google says its Recorder voice recorder/transcription app can also now create transcripts in Italian and Spanish on Pixel 6 series phones, Google Assistant Quick phrases now support Spanish, Italian, and French on Pixel 6 devices, and Direct My Call and Wait Times now work for all Pixel 3a and later phones.