Mon. Dec 6th, 2021


Android is forked. There So Many versions of it: from stock Android to Google’s own Pixel-first version Samsung’s One UI 4 overlay, There are enough variants to overran Time variance authority (Loki, Anyone?). This means that writing a review of Android 12 is a complex task. With many branded and device-specific changes, it can often be difficult to distinguish key Android features from window dressing.

The land of Android is messy, but we’re going to keep this review of Android 12 simple. If you just want an idea of ​​Pixel’s features, go for it Review our Pixel 6 Pro Where I’ve covered things like Live Translate and Magic Eraser Features like HDR Net Video and White Balance Control are also exclusive to Pixel, although that doesn’t mean they won’t last a day. Roll out more widely.

Professional

  • The material gives you a refreshing and beautiful transformation
  • More transparency in data usage
  • New animations make the system feel more responsive

Cons

  • Misleading charts on the battery and privacy dashboard
  • Audio-coupled haptic feedback is still missing
  • Excessive diversity across ecosystems means uncertainty about what features will be available to all

The material is everywhere you are

Effectively, this means that there is clearly nothing different for those who are upgrading to Android 12 on other devices. The biggest change will be New material you design, And how much of it goes to your particular handset will depend on the manufacturer of your phone.

On A UI 4, For example, you’ll find something like Material You through Samsung’s “new host’s new color palette”, which will apply to menus, buttons, and icons like the Google version. But these are not automatically created by the phone based on your wallpaper and have a distinctive Samsung-y cartoonish style that Galaxy users will find familiar. A UI 4 and Android 12 both offer new widgets that look much better and offer more customization options than ever before.

Two screenshots showing the Android 12 Material U theme.  The first is the wallpaper and style settings page, the second screenshot shows notifications and quick settings shades in the same color palette.

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

So Android 12 is a nice visual change, but it goes beyond aesthetics and affects how you interact with the system. Sliders and buttons are bigger than ever, which may seem ugly to some compared to the clean, thinner alternatives of Android’s past.

After a few months with this new style, I became accustomed to the extra chunky navigational elements. In fact, in some apps like Clock, it’s easier to see big targets and I can easily hit the snooze slider from the bed. They even look beautiful thanks to Material UK, which blends in nicely with everything from settings shades to keyboards and numpads. I also like that the new lock screen clock takes over the entire display if you don’t have any notifications.

Google has added a lot of small things across Android 12, such as new animations across the interface and an updated range of toast dialogs. Small boxes that pop up at the bottom of the screen when you copy text to your clipboard, for example. Starting with the Quick Settings panel and Notification Shade, I’ll focus on a few more obvious changes.

Two screenshots showing Android 12 settings and notification shades.  The quick settings panel with a few notifications on the left, the expanded settings panel on the right showing the display slider and eight toggles.

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

In general, Google’s decluttering was busy. This removes unnecessary “conversation” and “notification” headings from the notification list that took up extra lines, blending everything more smoothly when using a background color in this area near the card. There is a black background above the Quick Settings area and only four buttons compared to the previous six, which means you now have to swipe extra to access things like Battery Saver or Auto Rotate Toggle. Of course, you can rearrange them to put your preferences first, but you’ll only be able to pick four.

It’s awkward, but at least when you swipe extra on Android 12, you’ll see eight settings shortcuts versus six. Here is the net profit of lost or gained: Kinda zero.

I also don’t like the fact that Android 12 defaults to calling Google Assistant when you press the power button too long, but at least you can turn it back on to show restart, shutdown, lock, and emergency buttons.

One of the most common ways to interact with my phone is by tapping the search bar at the bottom and typing in the name of the app I like or the name of the show I’m going to watch. Nothing has changed here since Android 11, you can still see your recent entries and suggested apps when you hit the text field. But if you use the search bar in the All Apps drawer, which requires a swipe up, you’ll find Android 12’s universal search. This will allow you to find things on your phone, including conversations, not only in apps and contacts, but also in supported apps.

A pair of screenshots showing the results of the public search for Android 12.  On the left are the results of the letter

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

I randomly hit “D” and are shown a row of suggested apps, such as Discord and Discovery +. Below is a list of people from different apps, such as my colleague Debindra in Gmail, as well as some people named Dan and Dylan. It also shows the functions of specific apps like “Submit front desk instructions” on my building portal and “Connect with Matt Smith” on the Duo. When I type “the”, I’m advised to order from Uber Eats’ “The Old Spot” and quickly go to Uber’s “The Westin Grand, Berlin”. Both are places I’ve saved as favorites.

Finally, below, you’ll find an option to submit your query to Google’s search engine. The chances of scrolling to the bottom of the list are slim, but the more characters that are inserted, the less.

More privacy and battery information

I have described most of the changes to Android 12 so far and you will see them when you interact with the system. Other things, like the new Privacy Dashboard, are things you need to see in the settings

Two screenshots showing the Android 12 battery and privacy settings page

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

This means they will have less of an impact on your daily use, but for the most part, are informative. The Privacy Dashboard helped me understand that my camera and mic have been activated Yours And the apps I use most often show the need for ৷ And by the way, Android 12 also provides new indicators for when your mic and camera are being used (a green dot appears at the top right of the screen). Just like iOS, one more tap on the Google dot to see which app is accessing the sensor.

While the Battery Usage page isn’t new, it’s now more explicitly featured as the first option in the Battery Settings panel – you don’t have to tap a separate three-point button to find it. Google has been seen updating the graph showing your power level for the last 24 hours, with the horizontal axis now only badly labeled with numbers 1, 7, 1, 7 and 1 (or 13, 19, 01, 07, 13). Time) instead of “xx hours ago” and “xx minutes left”. I’ve found myself ignoring this chart most of the time, since it’s not helpful at all.

In the months I’ve been using Android 12, I’ve seen more apps ask permission to access my specific or approximate location. I almost never chose the latter, but it’s good to have options for things like the weather app. In general, though, I relied on the “Allow this time” or “Allow while using” options as a way to give limited permission to apps. Google will tell you after a while which apps you haven’t used for a while. This will automatically revoke permission for them, which is nice. None of these apps were things that I use often, it can be a problem.

Three screenshots show apps that use your color elements: clock, recorder, and calendar.

Cherylnn Low / Engadget

It’s … roughly for the major new Android 12 features. I’m still waiting to see an app that uses the new audio-coupled haptic feedback, as I enjoy the sensation of adding games to the iPhone 13 Pro. But at the moment there doesn’t seem to be anything. Google is constantly pushing for security and stability updates for Android 12, so maybe more features are yet to come.

Let’s finish

After all, the biggest thing Android 12 brings is your designed material and more privacy tools. It may seem small on paper, but the visual refresh and fast animations throughout the system make it feel terribly different. Plus, Google Continues Per Drop Properties Set Per Quarter or so, Meaning every version of Android doesn’t have to be as major as the upgrade. But if you are looking for a new face for your phone, Android 12 is a fun, satisfying update.

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