Android 12L isn’t exactly jam-packed with new features, and it’s more of a “refinement” upgrade than anything else. It is, nonetheless, worth investigating further. Given the massive change made with Android 12 late last year, anyone anticipating a slew of new features may be disappointed. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning Android 12 for larger tablets and foldable devices, with a few minor tweaks to make Material You a bit better overall.
So, here are all the things that are amazing in the new Android 12L:
- Tweaked “Sound and vibration” sheet
The section on sound and vibration has been expanded, with more space between each volume control scroll bar. The volume controls for Cast have also reappeared here, which isn’t necessarily new, but the controls are much higher up on your screen. A circular “Settings” M3 button has also replaced the “See more” button.
- Full-screen pop-up widget sheet
When you long-press an app icon to select a widget, the widget selection sheet now takes up the entire screen instead of just a small anchored piece. This allows you to see all of the app’s widgets without having UI elements cut off or covered. This also reflects the choices in the larger widget selection.
- New “Weather” widget grouping
There is now a specific “Weather” section for widgets that is separate from the Google widgets, in addition to the other widget selection improvements. This contains the Google app’s quick current conditions and hourly forecast weather widgets.
- Quick wallpaper switcher on Pixel Launcher
To change your on-device wallpaper, you don’t need to open the Wallpapers & Style app; Android 12L has a super-quick switcher that you can activate by long-pressing the home screen. If you find a blank spot and press and hold, a wider pop-up menu will appear, allowing you to choose from any of your previous five wallpapers. If this option is activated, all system accenting and colours will change as well.
- App pairs
The long-awaited “App Pairs” feature has arrived in 12L, which is essentially a repackaged version of split-screen on your Android home screen. Instead of giving the top programme in split-screen view priority, groupings are now retained within the Recents app view. This allows you to rapidly transition between two popular apps (for example, YouTube and Chrome/browser) and return to the dual view when switching out or accessing another UI area.
- Centred expanded Quick Settings pop-ups
Almost all Quick Settings expanded menus and pop-ups are now more centrally placed to assist you to access additional device management options, which should improve usability and reachability. The Wi-Fi toggle, for example, is now larger and separate from the regular bottom sheet.
- Enhanced UI haptics
Vibration-based feedback is now visible when entering or expanding the Pixel Launcher app drawer, indicating that haptics is now present in additional sections of Android 12L. You’ll also experience haptics when scrolling through the Recents app menu, as well as a gentle vibration when closing or dismissing any apps.
- Cast volume controls in Sound & vibration panel
Cast volume controls have returned entirely within Android 12L if you have not yet updated your smartphone or have used prior Android betas, despite being present in Android 12 with recent security patches.
- Split-screen picture-in-picture shortcut
If you’re watching a movie in picture-in-picture mode and opening another app in full screen, touching the floating player will provide a new toggle to help with split-screen startup times. It may appear to be a “pause” symbol, however, it will immediately split-screen the video player and the current full-screen programme.
- Turn off Airplane mode shortcut
When attempting to activate on-device Wi-Fi, a new feature in Android 12L allows you to instantly disable or turn off Airplane mode. When in Airplane mode, pressing the Wi-Fi or internet toggle will bring up a button to swiftly quit, but you may still deactivate other connections and enable Wi-Fi if you choose.
- “Split-screen” toggle now renamed “Split-top” with a new icon
When you enter the Recents app menu, the split-screen mode is still available, but it’s now called “Split-top” to signify that the first app you choose will appear on the top half of your screen. This is accompanied by a new icon that indicates what will happen if you touch this button.
- Tablet and foldable UI optimizations
Because Android 12L is designed to provide a unique set of features and capabilities to foldable and tablet devices, several adjustments have been made, including the addition of a new persistent dock that allows access to your most used or favourite apps from anywhere on Android. This is visible everywhere and looks a lot like the Windows taskbar or the Mac dock.
- New auto daily wallpaper icon in Wallpapers & style section
The toggle to select a new daily wallpaper within the Community lens section of the Wallpaper & style app now has a new icon.
- More rounded UI elements
Many UI elements have been updated with more rounded aesthetics and updated M3 buttons.
- Refined Quick Settings and general UI animations
General UI animations in Android 12L feature better collision and screen edge detection with smooth results. A prime example is the Quick Settings panel, with toggles expanding and contracting when the section is accessed from the top of your Pixel display.
- New Quick Settings Power menu animation
Tied to the wider animation improvements, when selecting the “Power menu” from the Quick Settings panel, this pop-up will expand from the button rather than slide in as previously seen in Android 12.
- Improved and more prominent M3 buttons for camera/microphone access
If microphone and camera access toggles are deactivated and preventing access to these hardware features, in Android 12L the on-screen pop-up now has more rounded M3 buttons to indicate and reauthorize access where deemed necessary.
- Updated “Press and hold” power button graphic in Settings
To help you better understand the option, the “Press and hold” section within Settings now has an updated graphic with a gif.
- Double-line lock screen clock option
In Android 12L, you can now disable the huge double-line lock screen clock from the Settings menu. This feature allows you to only enable the smaller upper-left single line clock option, which appears when your device has notifications waiting. Settings > Display > Lock screen > Double-line clock is where you’ll find it.
- New fingerprint unlock animation on the lock screen
The fingerprint unlocks animation for the in-display reader on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro has been updated. This animation has a little “glow” surrounding the activation point that wasn’t present in previous builds.
- Increased split-screen corner radii for App Pairs
For split-screen mode, Android 12L has more rounded UI corners. The corners’ radii will match the shape of your smartphone’s display. For example, the Pixel 5 has rounded corners, whereas the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have sharper, squared-off corners.
- “No notifications” banner more centrally placed in Quick Settings panel
If you don’t have any new notifications to view or read, the “No notifications” banner has been moved further down your screen and is now in the centre of the Quick Settings panel.
- Screen saver Settings page UI changes
The “Screen saver” section of Settings has been updated with a new UI that includes a conspicuous “Start now” button that replaces the previously utilised toggle.