After three developer previews, the first Android 12 public beta is available to download today. Google detailed the latest version of its mobile operating system on day one of I/O 2021. And as expected, Android 12 includes a major visual overhaul. Utilizing its new “Material You” design language, the company has redesigned almost every element of Android's user interface to make it more customizable. When you set a new wallpaper, Android 12 will automatically skin almost every element of the OS, including things like the notification shade and volume controls, to match the dominant and complimentary colors on display. Google has also redone system animations and tweaked the Quick Settings menu to add Google Pay and Home controls. The new user interface will come first to Google Pixel devices.
As part of the user interface overhaul, Google says it managed to make Android more efficient at the same time. The company claims phones with Android 12 will be faster, more responsive and make better use of their batteries thanks to better optimized CPU usage.
Google's second pillar for Android 12 is security and privacy. The update includes a new dashboard that includes a timeline of all the data the apps installed on your phone have accessed. Beyond giving you that information at glance, the dashboard will allow you to revoke app permissions. Like in iOS 14, you'll also see small indicators at the top of the screen when an app accesses your phone's camera, microphone or both. However, you can also block both components off for all apps by toggling them off in redesigned Quick Settings menu. When it comes to location services, Android 12 will allow you to provide apps with only your approximate whereabouts. Away from those user-facing features, Google is introducing a concept called Android Private Compute Core. It will handle all the language and audio processing for features like Live Caption and Now Playing on-device.
Google says more features will come to Android 12 later this year as we get closer to the public release of the update. In the meantime, you can try out the beta on select devices from 11 manufacturers, including Google, Nokia, TCL, Asus, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi.