There are a bunch of new Android 12 features to get excited about, like the upcoming wallpaper-based theme engine, the overhaul to UI elements, and new privacy controls. But as we often mention, sometimes the best changes are some of the smallest that add to your quality of life without doing much.
In the Android 12 Beta 1, Google first revealed a new lock screen experience on Pixel phones that changes depending on the state of your phone. If your phone is all cleaned up without notifications waiting for you to take action, you get a big ass clock that makes it easy to know the time. If you have stuff to take care of, well, that clock shrinks upward to make way for each notification icon.
I absolutely love this change.
On almost every phone, including Pixels prior to Android 12, looking down at your phone almost always showed you the same thing. You get the time, date, and weather in a familiar format that never changes. As notifications roll in, they pile in line underneath. All of this is fine and it works. Always-on display is a beautiful advancement in smartphone tech.
But the problem with never adjusting the UI except for the addition of tiny icons, is that looking down on your lock screen forces you to take an extra few seconds to see if anything new has happened. Since nothing moves or changes much, you have to look for them without the help of your phone.
On Android 12, Google is taking out any of the guess work and making it as obvious as ever if you are cleaned up and can go about your day. Your phone’s clock is telling you in the simplest way that all is good or that you have notifications. It’s like inbox zero for your lock screen. It’s brilliant.
As I type this, I’m looking down at my phone and seeing the small clock, so I know that I have notifications. I’m going to stop for a minute to take care of them – hang on. OK, done. Now my clock is big and pretty and I know that I’m done for now. The time is obvious. The completeness of my moment is crystal clear. Sh*t, the clock is small again. Be right back.
Anyways, you get it. You look down and see a big clock, now know the time – boom, move along. You look down a few minutes later and it’s small – OK, what’s up, phone? It’s a small change, but oh is it useful.