Skip to main content

You probably won’t get Android 12’s coolest feature when it rolls out

With Android 12, Google debuted a whole new design language for the operating system. “Instead of Google Blue, we imagined Material You,” the company said at Google I/O 2021. For a whole lot of Android 12 upgraders though, the Google blues is exactly what they’re going to get when Android 12 hits.

This week, Samsung finally announced and distributed the beta for One UI 4, its take on Android 12. Shortly after, Oppo announced ColorOS 12, its own spin on Android 12. Alongside Nokia’s own Android 12 Beta, these releases tell us what to expect (and what not to expect) from Android 12 when it hits the vast majority of Android phones as it rolls out through the next year.

Related Videos

Just don’t expect Material You — at all. Google may have touted it as a headlining feature of Android 12, but it’s not going to be a feature for the majority of users. One UI 4 handles the same as One UI 3, and Color OS 12 continues Oppo’s iOS-inspired take on Android. This was always to be expected.

Google didn’t hide the fact that Material You would be coming first to Pixels this fall, though it wasn’t clear whether that was because Pixels would be the very first phones to get Android 12, or whether Material You would be limited to Pixels. As of now, it seems to be the latter, though it could be a timed exclusive.

You’ll still find the more substantive changes made in Android 12 on other phones. Google’s added new indicators for when your microphone and camera are being engaged to prevent apps from accessing them surreptitiously. A detailed permissions manager will let you see which apps access your system sensors and how often. There are also mildly redesigned notifications, elements of which are being incorporated into interpretations from Samsung and Oppo. Samsung is keeping its own quick settings space, but the notification shade skews toward Google’s. Android One phones like Nokia’s X20 share a similar user interface to Google’s, but without all the dynamic color and customizability tweaks that the larger company had incorporated.

Android phone and tablet makers have coalesced around a distinct collection of elements that mark them out as Android, while not being exactly the same. While bits and pieces of what Google has planned for Android 12 will still make their way down, the most visually distinct element will not. Google has updated many of its apps to Material You on Android 12, but most people will only see Google Blue when they open these apps. In the meantime, if you want pure Material You, you’ll need to buy a Pixel.

Editors' Recommendations

The Pixel 8 just leaked, and it has one big thing I can’t wait for
Google Pixel 8 in depicted in white.

For another year, Google’s next-gen phones are out in the wild months ahead of their grand reveal at a fancy event. Just a day ago, the Pixel 8 Pro was unceremoniously leaked, and now, the standard Pixel 8 has also received the same treatment. OnLeaks and MySmartPrice have shared reported renders and a 360-degree video depicting the upcoming Google phone from all angles.
The design changes are subtle, but easy on the eyes. Just like the Pixel 8 Pro, the corners are once again more rounded on the Pixel 8. The frame is metallic, and there’s a horizontal camera strip at the back with a metallic luster on top. Akin to the Pixel 7, we get two cameras on the Pixel 8, sitting in a pill-shaped cutout.

Another small aesthetic tweak is the earpiece grill at the top, which is now more prominent than what we saw on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. If the current-gen Pixels are any indication, the Pixel 8 is going to offer an excellent in-hand feel. Talking about in-hand feel, though, it appears that Google is once again pandering to the small phone loyalists.

Read more
5 things we’d love to see at Google I/O 2023 (but probably won’t)
Google Pixel Watch on a wrist.

Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, kicks off on May 10. Don't let the words "developer conference" put you off, though, as Google I/O is one of the biggest and most exciting shows of the year.

We've already covered what we expect to see at Google I/O 2023, and that list includes the Pixel 7a, Android 14, and even a Google Pixel Fold. But although those are all things we're really looking forward to and expecting to see, there are a number of reveals we'd also love to happen ... but are extremely unlikely to appear on the grand stage.

Read more
Why the $450 Samsung Galaxy A54 may be 2023’s most savvy smartphone buy
The green and purple Galaxy A54's camera modules.

-Samsung’s Galaxy A Series has long been a great choice for people who want Galaxy S Series style without the S Series price. The Galaxy A54 and Galaxy A34 are the latest, and Samsung isn’t being shy about giving these phones the latest flagship look.

Even better news is that the A54 continues to provide a great screen, long battery life, a decent camera, and solid everyday features you’ll love — all for a value-driven price. Could the new Galaxy A54 phone be 2023’s savviest smartphone buys? I tried it out for a short time to find out.
Getting the Awesome colors right

Read more