It’s still a few months before Android’s next major update gets locked for new features and we’re still waiting for the third developer preview to land. That doesn’t mean that development is stagnating, of course, just that there’s still a lot of things cooking in Google’s kitchen. Many of these are still unavailable for the public to see but, fortunately, there are a few leaked builds that give us a bigger picture of what to expect from Android 12 later this year.
To some extent, Android 12 will almost feel like a completely new Android version, both in looks and behavior. We’ve already seen changes to the overall UI design of the next Android version with an emphasis on large touch controls and large empty spaces. It isn’t going to sit well with everyone but some might be more controversial than others.
Based on an unreleased build that XDA got hold of, some of the big changes that users will notice will like in the volume panel and the Quick Settings tiles. These will have larger sliders and buttons, perhaps too large for some. There will also be a “Cards & Passes” Quick Settings tile that will bring up the same smart home controls that pops up when you long-press the power menu in Android 11.
The reason for the latter is that Android 12 will apparently let you map that action to calling Google Assistant, something that other OEMs already provide. Other behavioral changes include fixes to App Pair, Android’s new version of split-screen, as well as a Search Bar on the widget picker list.
Going even deeper, Android 12 will feature new privacy and security behaviors, like an ephemeral “toast” notification when an app reads the clipboard. Throwing developers and power users a bone, Google seems to also be fulfilling its promise to make it easier to sideload APKs outside of the Google Play Store, or at least make the process less confusing.