The Android Dev Summit kicked off today, bringing with it a big announcement from Google and the future of Android on large screened devices. Please, my friends, welcome in Android 12L, the version of Android for tablets and foldables with some specific features and design guidelines.
What’s new in Android 12L that makes it specific to tablets and foldables, you ask? Google explains it as a “special feature drop that makes Android 12 even better on large screens.” That means they’ve made some changes (hopefully improvements) to the UI, multitasking, and support for apps.
Google isn’t showing much yet, but the screenshot below should give you a bit of an idea of at least one example. Here you can see the notification shade is using a two-column setup, with controls on one side and notifications on the other. This will work on the lock screen and other system surfaces as well, likely in the settings area.
Additionally, Android 12L adds a taskbar at the bottom of the screen where you’ll find favorite app shortcuts that let you easily jump between apps or open them in a split screen setup. You will be able to drag and drop apps from the taskbar onto the screen to open split screen mode as well. Google is also forcing apps to be able to work in this scenario, even if they aren’t currently set to be resizable.
Finally, Android 12L offers “a better letterboxing experience for users and help apps look better by default.” This is big for big screens on Android, because the inconsistency of apps working or not working depending on screen size and orientation can be frustrating. Yep, looking at you, Galaxy Tab S7+.
When and what is Android 12L launching on? Ahh yes, you are wondering how you can get Android 12L and which devices will run it. That’s important for sure.
Android 12L is actually launching as a developer preview today, which you can use in the Android Emulator. That will give you a sense for it and let you mess around with features, if you are that curious. Developers should most definitely do that. If you want it on a device, the Lenovo P12 Pro should see a preview very “soon.”
For the rest of us non-developers, Android 12L is launching “early next year, in time for the next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables.” I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like Google is expecting big things early next year from device makers. You also have to wonder if they are referring to their own rumored Pixel foldables. Maybe they’ll finally give us a Pixel tablet too? Wishful thinking.
What about Android 12L for phones? Google did announce today that Android 12L “is for phones” too, but most of the features won’t be visible on smaller screens. However, they are going to open up a preview of Android 12L to Pixel devices through the Android Beta program “later.”
Is this the rumored Android 12.1? Yes, this is the rumored “Android 12.1” point update that we’ve talked about a couple of times. All of these features discussed here today were previously shown off, thanks to a leaked build of it.
To find out more about Android 12L, here are the links you need: