Android 12 is coming sooner than you think — here’s what we know so far

Here’s where Android is headed for 2021.

Android 11 was an update that was greater than the sum of its parts. Smaller features like chat bubbles, conversation notifications, and a built-in screen recorder don’t sound all that impressive on their own. Combined into one seamless package, however, Android 11 was a pretty great update for Google’s mobile OS.

We’re now in 2021, and before you know it, we’ll be playing around with the first developer preview of Android 12. Details on the next big update are still few and far between, but even so, that’s not going to stop us from speculating and making a few educated guesses about where we’re headed next.

From rumored features, interface changes, availability, and more — here’s everything we know so far about Android 12!

Software king

Google Pixel 4a

$349 at Amazon
$350 at Best Buy
$349 at B&H

The best phone for Android updates

If getting fast and timely updates is a top priority for your smartphone, consider the Pixel 4a as your next daily driver. It’s first-in-line for major Android updates and monthly security patches the minute they’re released, and even better, that level of support is guaranteed through August 2023. Add that together with great specs, an amazing camera, and an unbelievable price, and the Pixel 4a is hard to say no to.

Android 12 Availability

While the timing of Android version releases has changed over the years, the past few have been pretty consistent. Here are the dates for the last four releases:

  • Android 8.0 — August 21, 2017
  • Android 9 — August 6, 2018
  • Android 10 — September 3, 2019
  • Android 11 — September 8, 2020

With those dates in mind, we’d assume that the public build of Android 12 is released in either August or September. A September release seems more likely between the two, given that workflows are still constrained with Google employees working from home.

It is possible Google will have to push Android 12 as far back as October or November, but from where we are right now, we’d anticipate a September release window.

Android 12 Beta

Before we can even think about a public launch, however, we need to talk about beta availability. Developer previews and public betas are a big factor for any Android update, and once again, with Android 12, that won’t be changing.

The first developer previews for Android 10 and Android 11 were both released in February, and unless something drastic is happening behind the scenes, we’d expect Android 12 to follow in these footsteps. That initial developer preview is usually pretty barebones when it comes to new features and design elements, meaning we’ll need to wait until later builds before we have a full idea of what Android 12 will look like.

Google usually shows all of its cards by the time it announces the public beta for a new Android version, and while that typically happens in May, it was delayed until June last year as a result of COVID-19. We’re crossing our fingers the first public beta is launched in May once again, but don’t be surprised if we’re met with another June date.

Android 12 Features

It’s one thing to talk about when a new Android update will be released, but it’s a lot more fun discussing what potential features we may see if you ask us. While not much has been shared around Android 12 features quite yet, there is one we can look forward to.

Thanks to some digging by the folks at 9to5Google, it appears that Google is prepping a Pixel-specific Android 12 feature that would allow you to double-tap the back of its phones to perform certain actions. Along with acting as another shortcut for opening Google Assistant, the double-tap could also be used to snooze alarms, take a screenshot, etc.

This feature was spotted in Android 11 betas and came with the codename of „Columbus.“ It obviously never made its way to the public build, but looking ahead at Android 12, it could finally get its chance to shine.

As for more general features that aren’t exclusive for Pixel phones, we’ll have to wait and see what we get. It seems likely that Google will add even more controls/settings for app permissions. More fine-tuning to notifications wouldn’t be a surprise, and there are bound to be a ton of tweaks behind-the-scenes that allow the best Android phones to be even better.

Android 12 Interface

We haven’t seen a major redesign for Android since the shift from Holo to Material Design back in 2014. There have been plenty of smaller changes and tweaks since then, with the „Google Material Theme“ era we’re currently in just being an evolution of what Material Design introduced. With that in mind, some people may believe that it’s time for another major design shift.

While it can be fun to talk about an all-new look for Android, don’t hold your breath for Android 12 to shake things up too much in this regard. The current design language looks good, doesn’t have any functional downfalls, and is appropriate for the mature operating system that Android currently is.

It’s entirely possible we’ll see some updates to the Pixel Launcher and other UI elements of Pixel phones specifically, but that’ll likely be the extent of any design changes. Especially with Samsung charting its own path with One UI and OnePlus touting its own design with OxygenOS, completely redoing Android’s core interface doesn’t seem like a logical area for Google to focus a lot of its efforts with Android 12.

Software king

Google Pixel 4a

$349 at Amazon
$350 at Best Buy
$349 at B&H

The best phone for Android updates

If getting fast and timely updates is a top priority for your smartphone, consider the Pixel 4a as your next daily driver. It’s first-in-line for major Android updates and monthly security patches the minute they’re released, and even better, that level of support is guaranteed through August 2023. Add that together with great specs, an amazing camera, and an unbelievable price, and the Pixel 4a is hard to say no to.


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