Google has finally announced Android 12L, an OS aimed at building out the Android 12 experience for large-screen devices, including foldables and tablets. Chromebook users will also benefit from the update.
Up until now, Android tablets have just run an overblown version of the OS on a larger screen. Whether it be an 8-inch tablet or a 12-inch slate, there have been no optimizations for larger screens in Android.
All of it is set to change with Android 12L. It will finally bring features to take full advantage of a larger display. Here’s what to expect from the update.
Android 12L refines the system UI to take advantage of the additional space on a tablet. It makes it easier to use a large screen for tasks such as notifications, quick settings, lock screen, overview, the home screen, and more. Instead of a space-wasting notification center, Google adds a new dual-panel notification center on foldables and tablets. It allows users to see and interact with their notifications while also looking at Quick Settings simultaneously.
The lock screen will now use a larger two-column layout to highlight notifications and the clock. Other apps including Settings are also optimized. Google is also making it easier to interact with its OS on larger screens. For instance, the lock screen pattern and PIN controls on tablets are now displayed at the side of the screen for easier access. You can tap the other side of the screen to bring the PIN/pattern controls over to that side.
There are also some changes for foldables as well. The company is optimizing the home screen grid and polishing the fold-unfold transition in a bid to allow users to move seamlessly from a single exterior screen to the larger unfolded screen.
Larger screens mean more room for multitasking, allowing you to be more productive. For years, Android tablets have lacked the productivity chops available on the iPad. Android 12L allows you to be more productive on foldables and tablets, with features that make multitasking powerful and intuitive.
The update borrows the iPadOS’ taskbar to make things easier. Google is also adding support for gestures on the taskbar to do things like a drag and drop to enter split-screen mode and swipe up to go home. You also get a quick-switch gesture that lets you flip through recent apps, and you can hide or unhide the taskbar at any time with a long press.
With Android 12L, it is easier than ever to run two apps simultaneously on a single screen. You can drag and drop your favorite apps into split-screen directly from the taskbar. If that’s not your style, you can use a new “Split” action in the overview to start split-screen mode with a tap. Google says it will allow all apps to enter multi-window mode, regardless of whether they are resizable.
Whatever Google might say, Android apps have never been optimized for larger screens. Once again, that’s set to change with it adding support for multi-window mode, continuity across screen size and device posture changes, and more, but it presents a unique compatibility issue.
According to Google, it has made visual and stability improvements to its compatibility mode to provide a better experience for users and make those apps look better by default. It will let device manufacturers configure the app aspect ratio, apply rounded corners to the app window, and set the status bar transparency.
Android 12L is now in the testing phase for developers on select devices like the Lenovo P12 Pro tablet. As of now, Google doesn’t have hardware of its own to test Android 12L, but rumors say the Pixel Fold could debut before the end of the year. The company will likely show off Android 12L and release a stable update after March 2022 with the Pixel Fold launch, just as it rolled out Android 12 alongside the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
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