Everything you need to know about Android 12

Google came out swinging at I/O 2021, and that’s especially apparent with Android 12. The latest version of the world’s most popular mobile operating system brings some pretty serious changes to your smartphone, and we’re here to keep you in the loop.

Read on to see everything going on with Android 12.

What’s new?

There’s quite a bit to talk about with Android 12, but the biggest change is easily its redesigned UI. Google says this is the biggest redesign that Android has ever had, and they’re not wrong. You can still see some classic Android here, but the new Material You design language is radically different from what we’re used to.

New interface

You’ll see a big emphasis on themes and colors, with your phone now being able to pull colors right from your wallpaper to theme the rest of the interface. As you can see above, if your wallpaper has a clear shot of the sky or anything blue, you’re going to get blue highlights throughout the OS. It’s all automatic.

The rest of the interface has been changed up to match this new design language as well. You’ll see much more animation and rounded fun-ness throughout, whether that’s in your notifications or quick settings, or just seeing bounce animations while you scroll lists.

Don’t worry about performance, either; Google says they’ve optimized this version of Android really well, so despite being more animation intensive, it actually uses less CPU power than before. Pretty impressive stuff.

Better privacy controls

There’s also a significantly bigger emphasis on privacy this time around, which seems to follow the trend that Apple has set recently. There’s a brand new Android Private Compute Core section of the OS that allows machine learning algorithms to run while they’re sandboxed away from your private data, a new privacy dashboard that lets you easily see what apps are accessing your location, camera, contacts, and more, and a quick toggle to turn off access to things like your microphone or camera right from the notification shade.

These are all pretty aggressive changes, especially for a company that makes the bulk of its money from advertising and data collection. It’s a great step in the right direction for more privacy-focused smartphones, however.

Smaller changes

A few of the other highlights in Android 12 include holding down your power button to summon Google Assistant, a built-in remote for Android TV without needing a separate app, and the ability to unlock a (compatible) smart car with NFC on your phone. The car has to support that, obviously, but Google is looking ahead here.

Google also wants to upgrade its password manager and get that fully fleshed out as a cross-system solution for later this year, alongside a Material You redesign for its web apps. There’s a lot to be excited about.

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo’s Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.