Android 12 update leak paints big future for foldable phones

We're likely only days away from the arrival of Android 12, the next big version of Google's mobile OS, but it looks like there may be a major follow-up update that adds some particularly notable features aimed at foldable devices. This update is currently referred to as Android 12.1, though that's not an official name at this time. A leak of the build has shed light on what users can expect.READ: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Review

The details come from XDA, which reports that an insider gave them access to an Android '12.1' build. The report first elaborates on why it is believed Google has a big point-one update planned, then digs into the meat of the build, revealing how the upcoming versions of Android will handle large-screen foldable devices.

For example, the Android 12.1 leak reveals the ability to open notifications on one side of the foldable's screen and the Quick Settings menu on the other side of the screen. The update will, put simply, enable Android to better utilize the extra visual real estate offered by these types of foldable phones. Another example of this is, for example, opening the Settings menu on one side of the screen, then revealing the sub-menu (Battery, for example) on the second screen.

Perhaps more interesting is the taskbar revealed in the Android 12.1 build, which offers something akin to a desktop-like experience. Users can see which apps are open, easily drag them onto the screen, or toggle between apps by tapping the icons. The report cites a seamless transition from the taskbar to the app dock when an app is closed.

The leak goes on to describe a "slightly tweaked" interface for the recent apps and split-screen function, making the split between apps easier to perceive — though, as mentioned, Google will likely continue to adjust the interface before we see the update actually launch. There are some tweaks that make it easier to access the foldable functions, such as a dedicated 'split' button that eliminates the need to long-press app icons.

Android 12 will bring a large number of features, including — at least based on leaks — versions of the features detailed in the Android 12.1 leak. It seems the future 12.1 update will refine many of these features, while improving others and, in some cases, adding new functions specifically for foldables.