Android 12 developer preview is available now with many under-the-hood updates

Google is releasing a developer preview for the subsequent model of Android, Android 12, for Pixel units right now. As is the norm for Google, the very first previews of Android are filled with plenty of developer-facing modifications. Android 12 has updates to how the OS handles photographs, video, and future safety updates.

It’s additionally the norm for Google to carry a few of the main UI modifications in reserve for its Google I/O convention, usually held in Might. Though this developer preview does embody some modifications to the UI for notifications, till we set up it we gained’t know the way intently it’ll map to the leak we saw earlier this month.

It’s obtainable for Pixel 3 and newer telephones however must be manually put in by flashing your system. It’s probably nowhere close to prepared for day-to-day use, however Google is promising that it’s going to proceed its beta program for normal customers later this yr.

Though the purpose of this primary preview is to provide builders a jump-start on getting their apps prepared for the brand new model of Android, there are nonetheless options that ought to make a tangible distinction to customers. Particularly, Android goes to grow to be more proficient at dealing with several types of media.

Google didn’t present photographs of Android 12’s consumer interface forward of time. We are going to replace this put up with extra particulars and pictures as quickly as we’re ready.

New media codecs in Android 12

There shall be a brand new transcoding layer that can robotically make the HEVC video format work in apps that don’t natively assist them. At present, selecting to shoot in HEVC on an Android telephone might imply that third-party apps gained’t have the ability to natively use that video. The brand new transcoding layer for these apps ought to let customers make the swap with extra confidence.

Android 12 will assist spatial audio, assist MPEG-H, and be optimized for as much as 24 channels of audio (up from eight earlier than). It is going to additionally make it simpler for builders to tie rumble results to audio.

Google seems to be throwing its weight behind the AV1 Picture File Format — in any other case generally known as AVIF. AVIF is supposed to exchange JPGs because the de facto picture format, providing a lot better and cleaner compression with fewer artifacts. Netflix in particular has been a big proponent of the format. If AV1 sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of it’s an offshoot of the AV1 video format that major tech companies proposed some years back and each Netflix and Google have partially adopted. AVIF additionally isn’t to be confused with the same HEIF, which Apple’s cameras have been taking pictures for a while.

Google says that it doesn’t intend to make AVIF the default picture format for the digicam app, so that is nonetheless only a first step.

Sticking with multimedia, Android 12 will merely do a greater job transferring totally different sorts of media between apps. It’s creating a brand new “Wealthy content material insertion” API that can allow you to reduce and paste or drag and drop a number of sorts of content material, together with “plain and styled textual content to markup, photographs, movies, audio information, and extra.”

A leaked take a look at Android 12. As of publication we don’t know exactly how correct that is, however it traces up with Google’s description in its weblog put up.
Picture: XDA-Builders

Android 12 interface modifications

We might want to set up the developer preview ourselves to get a more in-depth take a look at the modifications Google is introducing proper now. Its weblog put up describes what’s new in considerably basic phrases. It’s a protected wager that what Google is exhibiting right now shall be a touch to bigger modifications due later within the yr. Whether or not these modifications actually will match up with the leaked screenshots you see above stays to be seen.

Right here’s how Google describes the modifications it’s making to notifications:

We’re refreshing notification designs to make them extra fashionable, simpler to make use of, and extra practical. On this first preview you’ll discover modifications from the drawer and controls to the templates themselves. We’re additionally optimizing transitions and animations throughout the system to make them extra clean. As a part of the updates, for apps concentrating on Android 12 we’re adorning notifications with customized content material with icon and increase affordances to match all different notifications.

The app icons do line up with the leaked screenshot above, although, once more, that doesn’t essentially imply that’s what the ultimate model will appear like. The “increase affordances” additionally line up — the downward-pointing caret you may see within the screenshot above can be simpler to faucet than the present system. Google additionally notes that it’s asking builders to make use of an API that makes apps open up extra shortly in the fitting spot when a consumer faucets a notification.

Lastly, Google says that it’s altering how Android 12 will behave whenever you’re in a full-screen app like a video, a Kindle ebook, or a online game. At present, it usually takes two gestures to exit out of these apps — one to deliver up the UI, one other to really exit out. With Android 12, Google says that it’s “altering the default to permit customers to navigate their telephone with one swipe.”

Adjustments beneath the hood

In 2019, Google began updating sure elements deep contained in the Android OS straight, fairly than ready for carriers to push via a serious replace. Dubbed “Project Mainline,” it meant Google may challenge safety updates for important elements of Android utilizing the Google Play infrastructure. Ever since, it’s been including extra items of Android to the Mainline system. Android 12’s massive addition to this technique is the Android Runtime (ART), a elementary subsystem for making Android apps run. The aforementioned media transcoder may even grow to be a Mainline module.

Android 12 can have just a few privateness and safety updates, however they gained’t be as prominently seen to customers. The WebView engine that third-party apps use will undertake one in every of Chrome’s more moderen cookie settings referred to as “SameSite,” which may assist mitigate some monitoring. Google says that “extra privateness and security measures [will be] coming in later preview releases.”

Android just lately started requiring apps to pop a notification when it must run a background exercise — which seems to be actually distracting. In Android 12, Google says it “shall be blocking foreground service begins from the background,” redirecting builders to a brand new API. If one in every of these background actions can end up in lower than 10 seconds, it could not must show a notification in any respect.

Google can also be releasing an Android 12 preview for Android TV instantly, together with giving builders the prospect to check their apps on Google’s personal Google TV platform.

What’s subsequent for Android 12

Google is releasing the developer preview right now, however once more, it requires that you just flash your system’s system picture, so actually it’s meant for builders solely proper now. Google says it’ll work on a “Pixel 3 / 3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, Pixel 4 / 4 XL, Pixel 4a / 4a 5G, or Pixel 5 system” or builders can merely run it contained in the Android emulator.

There will be a public beta in some unspecified time in the future, however anticipate it to take just a few months. And if Google follows its previous habits, there shall be a extra complete take a look at what’s coming in Android 12 in Might (or probably June).

Final yr, Android’s “platform stability” launch came in early July, however this yr Google is concentrating on August — the official launch normally comes shortly thereafter. That would imply that Android 12 will arrive just a bit later within the yr than common.

Within the meantime, we and others shall be digging in to the developer preview to see what different particulars we are able to discover. Most of the time there are sufficient hints scattered all through the code to provide us a good suggestion of Google’s remaining plans for Android.

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