Google announces Android 12, releasing the first developer preview

Android 12 logo with 12 dots around it along with the Google logo

Today, Google announced Android 12, the version of the mobile operating system that's slated to arrive this fall. As usual, it's a major update, and as usual, the first developer preview is available to test out now.

There's a lot to unpack here, because there are a lot of UX changes across the board. As was previously leaked, notifications are getting redesigned. Not only that, but they're meant to be faster, easier to use, more functional, and more modern. On top of that, Google is going to be refreshing animations and transitions across the UI, making them smoother.

Google is also blocking "notification trampolines" with Android 12. These are services used sort of in-between when you tap on a notification and when it launches the app, and it can cause the whole process to slow down. With Android 12, Google wants developers to launch directly into the Activity.

Navigation is changing just a bit, or at least in immersive mode. When you're watching a video or doing something else that requires a full-screen experience, Google says it's still going to protect you from accidental swipes, but now you won't have to swipe multiple times to get back to the home screen, or to navigate your device.

There are lots of media improvements too. For one thing, Google's adding platform support for the AV1 image file format (AVIF), which is higher quality than JPEG but file sizes aren't any larger. Android 12 is also getting multi-channel audio improvements, with MPEG-H support that has mixers, resamplers, and effects that are optimized for up to 24 channels.

AV1 JPEG
Race car for comparing JPEG to AV1
Race car for comparing JPEG to AV1

There's a new rich content insertion API, and it's just meant to make it easier to move around images, videos, and similar files. It's a unified API that will let apps get files from the clipboard, the keyboard, and drag and drop.

Google said that it's working to update more of Android through the Play Store, as it continues to fight fragmentation in the ecosystem. With Android 12, the Android Runtime module can be updated through the Play Store, so it can actually improve app performance without requiring a system update.

There's also an Android TV beta coming today, as Google noted that now is the time for developers to optimize for larger screens. For phones, the developer preview is available for the Pixel 3 and above, as support for the Pixel 2 ended in December. Right now, this is just for developers, so there's no beta program just yet. Google expects to hit the platform stability milestone in August.

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