With Android 13 on the horizon, OnePlus is now finally offering OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T series owners the opportunity to install Android 12 with the launch of the OxygenOS 12 Open Beta.
Announced in twoseparate posts on the OnePlus Forums, OxygenOS 12 Open Beta 1 can now be sideloaded on OnePlus 7/ OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7T/ OnePlus 7T Pro units. The divisive update certainly bears a striking resemblance to Oppo’s ColorOS, that is despite protestations from OnePlus that the “unified platform” will not be coming after all.
Aesthetically, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between OxygenOS 12 on OnePlus 7 series devices and ColorOS or Realme UI on Oppo and Realme devices. However, a new software update is important and Android 12 offers a number of improvements to the core OS that will undoubtedly improve the daily experience you’ll have with a OnePlus 7 or OnePlus 7T series handset.
One caveat is that to install OxygenOS 12 Open Beta 1 on your OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7T, or OnePlus 7T Pro you will need to already be running OxygenOS 11.0.71 or 22.214.171.124 before proceeding. These builds contain prerequisites that are not contained within the OxygenOS 12 Open Beta ZIP files that are required for Android 12 to run correctly.
Both builds for the 7 and 7T series contain the June 2022 security patch, which means you’re up-to-date — at least for now. You can check out the full changelog below:
Newly added Smart Battery Engine, a feature that prolongs your battery life based on smart algorithms and biomimetic self-restoration technology
Redesigns app icons using new materials to give more depth and a greater sense of space and texture to the icons
Revamps the page layout based on the principle of reducing visual noise and optimizes the presentation of text and color to make key information stand out
Optimized desktop icons with improved textures, by using a design inspired by brand-new materials and uniting lights and layers
Optimized spam block rules: Adds a rule for blocking MMS messages
Newly added the HyperBoost end-to-end frame rate stabilizer
Newly added Voice effect preview to allow you to record your voice effect or check your voice effect in real time
Dark mode now supports three adjustable levels, bringing a more personalized and comfortable user experience
New additional style options for Cards, making data contents more visual and easier to read
Newly added access to OnePlus Scout in Shelf, allowing you to search multiple contents on your phone, including Apps, Settings, Media Data, etc
Work Life Balance
Work Life Balance feature is now available to all users, allowing you to effortlessly switch between Work and Life mode via quick settings
WLB 2.0 now supports automatic Work/Life mode switching, based on specific locations, Wi-Fi network, and time, also bringing customized App notification profiles according to the personalization
Gallery now allows you to switch between different layouts with a two-finger pinch gesture, intelligently recognizing the best-quality pictures, and cropping the thumbnail based on the content, making the gallery layout more pleasing
Canvas AOD brings you new diverse styles of lines and colors, for a more personalized lock screen experience with inspiring visuals
Newly added multiple brushes and strokes and support for color adjustment
Optimized software algorithm and improved face recognition to better identify the features and skin color of different figures
Optimized categorization of functions by grouping them into vision, hearing, interactive actions, and general
TalkBack supports more system apps including Photos, Phone, Mail, and Calendar
Of course, before attempting to install, ensure you have at least 30% battery remaining and 4GB of onboard storage free. This process should not wipe any personal data on your device, but we would highly recommend backing up any important files and photos before joining the beta program. Downgrading or rolling back to Android 11 will cause you to lose device data if you are not happy with OxygenOS 12 and Android 12 on your OnePlus 7 or OnePlus 7T series handset.
After waiting what felt like ages, Android 12 has arrived with a literal mountain of changes, tweaks, and tuning to sink your teeth into. We’ve whittled or distilled our deep dive down to a selection of 20 of the best features added in Android 12 — features we think you’ll really love right away.
We’re going beyond Material You here though. The wallpaper-based theming approach sure is different to what we’ve seen on Pixel hardware in years prior, but there are some things to love and even a few things to hate — a lack of independent customization being one sore point for just about everyone.
Even so, selecting 20 of the top features in Android 12 is no easy task. With over 100 new user-facing additions, functions, and tweaks, there is so much here to try out for yourself. We have done the hard work, so you don’t have to.
The fact that it has taken until Android 12 to even get a dedicated one-handed mode in AOSP is quite shocking. Then when you consider the way it has been implemented owes a lot to iOS and the “Reachability” mode, and you’ll scratch your head wondering why we have waited to get the option.
However long the wait, it’s just nice to have the option to use larger smartphones without requiring hand gymnastics or huge hands. Unfortunately, you cannot access the one-handed mode unless you are happy to use gesture navigation.
Yet another feature that has been so long in the making that we were beginning to wonder if it would ever arrive. You might not even remember Quick tap as it was originally codenamed “Columbus.” Basically, this new gesture lets you double-tap the back of your Pixel to do things like activating the flashlight, activating the Google Assistant, taking screenshots, or launching an app.
It took Google so long to implement that iOS has had the option for over a year at this point. You need to enable the feature, and it’s a great way to access common parts of Android without needing to unlock your device.
Microphone/camera access dots
People are rightly taking privacy on their smartphones and connected devices more seriously. The number of permissions that many apps request upon first launch and accepted without much thought can be remedied. If an app is concurrently or has very recently accessed any of your on-device cameras or the microphones, you’ll see a small green dot or icon at the upper-right of your smartphone display.
This is just a quick indicator that an app or service has accessed either hardware. Expanding the notification shade and tapping the icon informs you just which app has done so. An extended feature as part of the wider Privacy controls lest you quickly disable or enable Microphone and Camera access from the Quick Toggles section on a whim.
If you’re a big mobile gamer then the dedicated Game dashboard will be a very important new addition. Built directly into Do Not Disturb mode, Game dashboard brings a floating pop-up menu with a few extra tweaks and controls to enhance your mobile gaming.
This allows you to screen record, get frame rate indicators and ensures that any incoming calls and texts are silencing when you’re deep into your favorite mobile games.
Picture-in-picture mode tweaks/tuning
Android 12 brings some enhancements to the picture-in-picture mode, which makes a big difference to the experience. To better fit with the rest of the “rounded” aesthetic, the playback windows do away with sharp corners with what could be considered a more “pill-shaped” player.
There is a new ability to “stash” a playing video so that UI portions are not obstructed. This means that background playback doesn’t affect anything you’re currently doing. When you dismiss or close a playing window, the animation envelops the player and it snaps or “pops” out of view.
The process of opening an app from a URL should be much easier with “Verified link” in Android 12. Effectively, these are URLs that specifically state that it should open an app and are able to bypass the old “open with” dialog that would show on previous versions of Android.
You likely won’t even notice the feature in action as it just acts automatically and streamlines your day-to-day UI experience. Heading into the Settings app, you can change the behavior of verified links on an app-by-app basis.
Link/image sharing from Recents menu
To save some time, you can quickly grab web page links and images on web pages or in apps courtesy of a quick-select option within the Recent apps screen. When viewing the Recents section, web pages will include a “link” icon or an “image” icon.
Tapping the “link” icon brings up a color-coordinated site link that can be copied or shared directly. Alternatively, you can drag the link icon to a recent contact or into a “more” option, which will launch the wider Share Sheet.
When tapping the “image” icon a similar menu will launch but this will include “Lens” and “Save” options. Similarly, dragging downwards opens up three recent contacts or apps with the ability to drag into a “more” option which also launches a wider Share Sheet.
Yet another long-overdue addition but an important one nonetheless. Scrolling screenshots are finally here in Android 12 and represents one of the top or most requested features over the past few years. The implementation is not dissimilar to how it has been added in various third-party Android skins from the likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi.
Just take a screenshot and if the app or screen can be expanded, you will get a “Capture more” toggle appearing in the bottom-left preview pop-up. At the moment, this doesn’t work everywhere. A case in point is that of Chrome, which isn’t yet working with the Scrolling screenshot feature.
Ongoing call chip
Although this feature is not completely reliant on Android 12, when using Google Phone as your default dialer a status bar “chip” will give you at-a-glance information on call progress/timings. This does appear to adapt or change based upon Dynamic Color theming on devices where color-tuning and accenting is currently supported.
This works as a semi-replacement for the pop-up “bubbles” that offers call controls and gives quick access to return to a call in-progress. Unlike bubbles, a status bar call chip fully minimizes phone calls without affecting any other apps you have open or are using at a particular point in time. Tapping reopens your call and minimizing or opening another app will return the call to the status bar chip.
Universal device search
Provided you use the Pixel Launcher as your default home screen, when accessing the app drawer there is an expanded Universal device search option within Android 12. This expanded search lets you find contacts, messages, email, and apps so long as you use the default launcher on Pixel phones.
It’s worth noting that you can access the feature automatically by enabling the keyboard each time you swipe up into the Pixel Launcher app drawer. Alternately, you can just access via the search bar at the top of the app drawer as and when you see fit.
Face control auto-rotate
To help ensure that your phone is in the right orientation all the time auto-rotate has been given a big boost with the ability to activate face controlled rotation. The feature uses the selfie camera to orientate in conjunction with the accelerometer for even more accurate auto-rotate than using the accelerometer alone.
If you often watch YouTube or other video content in landscape mode then this is a great added feature. You can still use the standard auto-rotate mode or the quick toggles to snap to landscape orientation if you prefer that method.
While the Gboard redesign is not technically part of the Android 12 update, the changes are only available on devices with the most recent OS. Top of the new features in this Android 12-specific Gboard overall is full compatibility with Material You theming and Dynamic Color tweaks.
If you like rounded or soft corners, the new Gboard will really appeal. All of the tweaks are most prominent when using your on-device light theme.
If you are using your phone in a dark or low-light environment and want to quickly adjust the screen brightness, “Extra dim” allows you to do so with just a single tap. You can customize the luminance level or brightness of your display to a preset level of your choosing with a single button press.
Security and personal safety features have been elevated in priority within Android 12. While this might not seem like a big deal, the Emergency SOS feature is one of the top new additions for personal safety and peace of mind.
You can press the power button quickly five times or more to have your device emit a loud sound and countdown alarm before calling emergency services or a predetermined number of your choice. This will call for help, but your device will need to be unlocked if you choose a number that is not directly to emergency services.
Approximate or precise location controls
Privacy is one of the core tenets of the Android 12 update, and this means a number of new features are coming to your smartphone including the ability to give apps and services access to “approximate” or “precise” location data.
This includes a new pop-up with a new animation to indicate the inherent differences when apps request your location. For apps that only require a locale or region data, this is a great way to conceal or protect your location without losing access to in-app features or functions.
New pop-up Power menu
Every year the Power menu on Android seems to receive a facelift and the latest looks the best so far despite a few substantial changes. Cards & Passes and smart home controls are now accessible in separate lockscreen toggles leaving the Power menu to be just that – a place to access device power controls.
This simplification and separation mean that it is abundantly clear just what the pop-up offers. While the previous version in Android 11 felt like a “hub” for some incompatible UI and system controls. Now there is no confusion and it’s all the better for it.
Editor available from Share Sheet
When sharing an image, be that a direct screenshot or even just an image from your gallery, an editor has been added to allow you to do things like add emoji, text, and draw without needing to first edit your image or screenshot.
For those wondering why this is one of the top features in Android 12, it means you can just add or tweak things right before you send them on. Not only does this save time, it makes things a lot easier across the board.
Adaptive charging tweaks
While you likely won’t see the benefits initially, Adaptive Charging has now been tuned to ensure that your smartphone battery lifespan is considered when the feature is activated in Android 12.
Adaptive charging slows the charging speed between the 80 and 100% thresholds and, in turn, helps reduce the wear and tear on your Pixel internal battery. This charging process should more closely match when your on-device alarm when your phone is placed on charge overnight.
Face controls in Android Accessibility Suite
Expanding on the growing suite of accessibility features Android 12, a new “Camera Switch” allows you to control your phone with facial expressions via the selfie camera. The facial expressions that can be performed include opening your mouth, smiling, raising your eyebrows, and looking left, right, or up.
The feature will, by default, ask for the user to set expressions for next, select, and “pause,” which stops the phone from recognizing other gestures temporarily. Other actions include previous, touch & hold, scroll forward/backward, home, back, notifications, quick settings, and overview/multitasking.
On/off labels in Quick Settings
Simple. Effective. The new pill-shaped Quick Settings toggles now have an “on” or “off” indicator underneath to make it even more obvious if something is activated or not. You might not understand why this is a nice addition, but for accessibility and those with vision-related issues it makes it explicit rather than a highlighted button accent.
With Android 12 hitting AOSP at the start of the month, Google also released the latest Compatibility Definition Document (CDD). There are a handful of hardware and software changes that device makers have to abide by, but nothing too major.
With Android 12, Google introduced a “Performance class” standard that “defines a set of device capabilities that goes beyond Android’s baseline requirements.” This includes media, camera, and “generic” (memory, screen resolution/density).
It lets app developers determine which software features a phone or tablet is capable of running. For example, Performance class 12 (for the “highest performing devices”) could get the “most premium experience,” while class 11 would go down to “high quality experience” and everything else gets the base experience. Meanwhile, Performance classes are forward-compatible:
A device can upgrade to a newer platform version without updating its performance class. For example, a device that initially supports performance class 12 can upgrade to Android 13 and continue to report it supports class 12 if it does not meet the class 13 requirements.
The Android 12 CDD says that Performance class 11 (R) and 12 (S) “must” at least have a 12MP rear camera that supports 4K at 30FPS video capture. The latter also requires a 5MP or higher front-facer (1080p at 30FPS), while the former needs at least 4MP. Both classes require a screen resolution of 1080p (with 400DPI) or greater and a minimum RAM requirement of 6GB. Sequential and random read/write are also specified:
Meanwhile, OEMs must display the microphone and camera indicators when those two components are being used by apps, including system ones. Under “Unicode and Font,” Google added that device makers:
MUST NOT remove or modify NotoColorEmoji.tff in the system image. (It is acceptable to add a new emoji font to override emoji in NotoColorEmoji.tff)
A “strong” recommendation has been added about making sure the touchable area of an under-display fingerprint sensor (UDFPS) does not interfere with 3-button navigation, which Google reminds that “some users might require for accessibility.”
The fact that we haven’t seen a stable Android 12 release means that at least Samsung has the opportunity to catch up to Google with their One UI 4.0 Beta 2 update.
Although it’s quite unlikely, we could have a situation where the first stable Android 12 update comes to a non-Pixel device. That would be a real shock, but given that Samsung is only pushing the second One UI 4.0 beta based upon Android 12, we’d be very surprised, to say the least.
Here’s everything notable in the latest Android 12-based update for Samsung Galaxy devices:
A huge component of Android 12 on Pixel phones is now available as part of One UI 4.0 Beta 2 but with a few Samsung-ish tweaks in tow. “Color theme,” as Samsung has renamed it, is the Korean firm’s take on Dynamic Color and the “Monet” theming system seen on Pixel hardware.
From your homescreen, long-press in an empty space or pinch to zoom outwards and head to Wallpapers > Color theme. From this new panel you’ll be able to choose a three-color theme based upon your on-device wallpaper. You can leave it as the preset blue, white, and black setup or select one of up to four patterns determined by your device.
You’ll see a nice preview pane above showing just what colors will be adopted across your device too. The effect isn’t nearly as obvious as it is on Pixels, but it does work across almost all core One UI 4.0 system areas — including notification toggles and the lockscreen.
It’s worth noting that the change is very noticeable but not quite as extensive as you might expect. Instead, it’s more of an accent addition that tweaks some UI elements but doesn’t appear to work with any of Google’s recently updated and tuned first-party applications including Messages, Gmail and many more.
You’ll still see the Material You tweaks on those apps, but for now at least, most will just adhere to the stock or standard colors applied. Some apps are fully themed but will depend heavily upon which version you have installed or have updated. A fine example is the Google Podcasts app, which will adjust based upon your wallpaper-based “Color theme” accenting.
Because of the inherent changes to apps as a result of your system accent color, “Color theme” changes just how you’ll experience Android 12 on your Samsung Galaxy device. Google is pushing it hard for Pixel, and it was initially expected to be limited to Made by Google devices but the arrival here in One UI 4.0 Beta 2 is far earlier than expected.
To explain, “RAM Plus” is a feature that uses a portion of your on-device storage to create “virtual RAM” that ups the limit on your Galaxy smartphone. For higher-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones in excess of 8-12GB of RAM, this probably isn’t even an issue, but for the low-end devices with hardware limits, this could be a real way to expand or improve general performance levels.
In One UI 4.0 Beta 2 you can’t actually disable “RAM Plus” as it’s simply enabled by default. You can see just how much space is being used by heading to Settings > Device care > Memory. Here you’ll be able to clear or free up RAM as well as see just how much “virtual memory” is being adopted where the system deems necessary.
We’re not sure if this will decrease or automatically disable if you lack the available space, but it appears to be capped at 4GB. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the same as physically adding 4GB of RAM to your device, but it might help if heavy apps are taking up system resources or you want to play more demanding games and are happy to sacrifice other app performance levels. It’s worth noting that this has already been released to some mid-rangers from Samsung, including the Galaxy A52 and even the brand-new Z Fold 3, but joining the main One UI 4.0 build could expand it to all devices.
Enhanced video calling options and effects
When initiating a video call, you have more options at your fingertips as part of the “Video call effects” floating panel after updating to One UI 4.0 Beta 2. These include the ability to adjust background blur effects or add a color/image. Effectively, this simply mimics the kind of things you can already do in the various calling apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and others, but this works on any app that your Galaxy device detects as a video calling app.
Enhancing those controls is a new “Mic mode” option that lets you choose just what audio is picked up when making video calls. There’s a “Standard” mode that works just as you expect, a “Voice focus” option that attempts to cut out any annoying background noise but a neat option for group or family calls is an option labeled “All sound.” When making large group calls — something fairly normal since the start of the pandemic — this might help as it boosts the audio picked up in the vicinity of your phone.
Gallery metadata editing
It’s almost as if Samsung lifted the ability to edit and adjust the time and date metadata from images in the Gallery app right from Google Photos — although it’s simply a highly requested feature. Tapping the overflow menu and then selecting details opens up the metadata menu for any image within the Samsung Gallery app.
From here you’re able to edit everything from the photo name, the location it was taken, and even the time and date — complete with Dynamic Color supporting time and date picker. Not having to upload to Google Photos or use another third-party app is likely a massive added feature for many that use the default gallery app on their Galaxy devices.
Android 12 easter egg with Dynamic Color
Not necessarily a massive update but provided you are using “Color theme” on your device, the Android 12 easter egg will adhere to your preset theme — just like it does on Pixel smartphones running the Android 12 Beta. Is this is an important change? No, but it’s nice all the same.
Should I install One UI 4.0 Beta 2 on my Galaxy S21?
If you want to try this modest set of additional features alongside the previous — and more extensive add-ons — then you’ll need to sign up the One UI 4.0 Beta via the Samsung Members app. At this stage it has only rolled out in the US and UK, but more regions will get access to this Android 12 preview over the coming days.
However, at this stage, we’d suggest holding on a little longer. Although this update includes a number of bug fixes, performance can be quite unstable at times with texture pop-in and lag in certain apps when scrolling. Beta 3 will hopefully add a bit more stability.
Last year, Android 11 introduced a clever privacy feature that removes permissions granted to “unused apps” that haven’t been opened in some time. Google is now bringing this auto-reset to older phones and tablets via Play services over the coming months.
Android 11 (and newer) can automatically remove permissions from “unused apps” to limit access to sensitive personal data, including location, camera, contacts, files, microphone, and phone. This does not get in the way of day-to-day usage as you have to go at least three months without using an application before Android automatically removes permissions.
Google is now bringing permission auto-reset to “billions more devices” running Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Android 10. This is made possible with Google Play services.
Once rolled out, auto-reset will be enabled by default for apps targeting Android 11 (API level 30) and later. To prevent issues and unintended experiences, resets will not apply to older applications still targeting API levels 23-29 unless manually enabled by end users. Additionally:
Some apps and permissions are automatically exempted from revocation, like active Device Administrator apps used by enterprises, and permissions fixed by enterprise policy.
Meanwhile, developers can ask users to “prevent the system from resetting their app’s permissions.”
This is useful in situations where users expect the app to work primarily in the background, even without interacting with it. The main use cases are listed here.
Next month, Google will make the cross-platform auto-reset APIs available with Jetpack Core 1.7.0, while the company today issued guidance on how developers can prepare.
Android’s auto-reset feature will begin gradually rolling out in December and be fully available in Q1 2022. Once live, users will get a new auto-reset settings page to enable/disable the behavior for specific applications. A few weeks after that, Google will start resetting permissions from unused apps.
Breaking from the recent yearly release cadence, the next version of Android to release might be a mid-cycle bump — an “Android 12.1,” if you will — rather than Android 13.
By all measures, Android 12 is a significant release for Google’s phones, among other things, revamping the design with “Material You,” which matches the system and your apps to your wallpaper’s colors. In the coming months, we should see more of how Android 12 will improve other companies’ phones, with Samsung set to beta test One UI 4.0 in the next few weeks.
Normally, this would be about the time that we should set our sights on 2022’s Android release, presumed to be Android 13. In fact, Android 13’s internal dessert name, Tiramisu, has been discovered.
However, it seems there may be another stop in the journey. As tipped to XDA by luca020400 (Director of the Lineage OS ROM), a new Android code change suggests that Tiramisu/Android 13 will be API level 33, which is two levels higher than the forthcoming Android 12, which will be API 31. 9to5Google has also discovered a newer code change that directly confirms that Android 13 will be API 33.
More than that, it’s directly stated that API level 32 will be “sc-v2.” In this instance, “sc” is shorthand for Android 12’s internal dessert name, “Snow Cone,” while “v2” implies that Snow Cone will get a “version 2.”
In almost every case over the last 13 years of Android’s history, a change to the API level has coincided with a change to Android’s version number. However, this would be the first time since 2017 that Google has felt the need to put out a second, mid-cycle upgrade for a particular Android version.
At that time, Android Oreo got a bump from 8.0 to 8.1 at the end of the year, with the update debuting on Pixel and Nexus phones. A similar mid-cycle “x.1” release schedule also occurred following Android Nougat and Lollipop. Following that pattern, it’s quite possible that this “sc-v2” update might be called “Android 12.1” when it launches.
So what can we expect from such an Android 12.1 upgrade? Whatever is changing must be both important enough to justify a mid-cycle release, and also drastic enough that Google couldn’t add it all to Android 12 while keeping the API stable for developers.
For now, there aren’t many clues to go on, especially as more parts of Android have become updatable without needing a major upgrade, thanks to Mainline modules. In a comment on another code change, we see that “sc-v2” will introduce some tweaks to the WindowManager APIs, which would definitely affect app developers.
It’s too early to say when this supposed Android 12.1 would release, but the earliest available evidence suggests Google has been preparing it since at least May. In past examples of a mid-cycle release, the new Android version bump would see release within a few months of the major version’s launch.
Another tidbit you’ll probably have noticed in the quote above is that a Googler mentions that “some of our Nest devices might not be migrated to T.” For now, we’re not too sure what to make of this, as no known Nest devices run on Android — let alone have potential to upgrade to Android 13 (T) — with the Nest Hub series using either Cast OS or Fuchsia. It’s possible this may simply be referring to the Chromecast with Google TV, which could be seen as falling under the Nest umbrella.
Gmail on the web is set to get a navigation revamp this summer, while the Android app is now beginning to roll out a Material You redesign.
It starts on the homescreen, with the top of the page seeing a pill-shaped search field that features a hamburger icon on the left and profile avatar/account switcher at the other end that fits the curvature. The layout of the navigation drawer is unchanged with this revamp, while various buttons in Gmail are now rounded.
At the bottom, we get a taller bottom bar — like we enabled in Google Play — that makes use of a pill-shaped indicator to highlight what tab you’re currently viewing. The selected icon is also filled out, while Gmail leverages a rectangular Compose FAB just above it — similar to the one in Google Contacts.
The other big change today is the use of Dynamic Color to hue the background of Gmail for Android. This includes the main email list, all tabs, and the compose screen. The bottom bar, search field, and buttons leverage a darker shade, while the overflow menu also sees some theming.
Gmail’s Material You redesign is coming with version 2021.08.24.394054613, as spotted by Artem Russakovskii and XDA this morning. That new release is rolling out via the Play Store, but it’s not yet available for all users.
Meanwhile, sideloading does not guarantee you’ll see these changes as there is a server-side component, but you might get lucky. This new update does seem to widely rename “Rooms” to “Spaces” — as expected — in the bottom bar.
This year’s Android 12 update is shaping up to be Google’s biggest release in years, judging by all the cool new features we’re finding. Earlier today, XDA Recognized Developer and friend of the site Quinny899 gave us our first look at Android 12’s hidden Conversation widget, but that’s not the only feature he enabled. Thanks to some reverse engineering, he managed to get Google’s hidden Gaming Dashboard feature working. It’s currently extremely barebones and only has a floating toolbar with two non-functional buttons, but it’s our first look at yet another unreleased Android 12 feature.
As you can see in the screenshot below, two icons are overlaid on top of the screen: A record icon and a controller icon.
According to the code for Gaming Dashboard contained within Android 12’s SystemUI, the record button simply starts a screen recording session. That’ll be useful when you want to record your screen without interrupting gameplay by pulling down the Quick Settings panel. As for the button with the controller icon, we don’t know what it’ll do because it doesn’t work and there’s no obvious functionality tied to it in the code.
The Gaming Dashboard classes are part of the com.google.android.systemui namespace rather than com.android.systemui, which suggests this feature may be Pixel-exclusive. However, many OEMs already have their own Gaming Mode features, and there’s nothing about this version that stands out right now. Before the first Developer Preview dropped, we learned that Google is working on a game mode for Android 12. We don’t know if this new Gaming Dashboard and the Game Mode we heard of are one and the same, or if the former is simply a feature built on top of the new GameManager service. We’ll probably learn more information from subsequent Android 12 Developer Previews, though.
The Android 12 beta contains a hidden game mode within Digital Wellbeing.
This feature will allow mobile gamers to take screenshots, record gameplay, live-stream, and more.
We first heard murmurings in February that Android 12 could support a game mode, following in the footsteps of a ton of OEMs that already offer this feature. Now, it looks like the Android 12 beta does indeed have a game mode hidden away.
Redditor Kilarasx discovered the game mode by tapping Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. Alongside the expected “sleep” and “event” schedules for Do Not Disturb functionality, there’s a “Game Mode” schedule. We were able to find this on our Pixel 4 running the Android 12 beta — check out the screenshots below and the featured image above.
It looks like this is near-identical to the menu found by XDA with the third Android developer preview. Tapping the gear icon takes you to the game mode menu (image on the right), showing six options in total. The four options at the top are taking a screenshot, recording the screen, presumably viewing the frames per second, and activating/deactivating Do Not Disturb.
All these options bar the FPS toggle seem to work right now, with the screen recorder tool also letting you choose the audio you’d like to record (microphone, device audio, or both) and whether you want touches to be displayed.
Meanwhile, the bottom two options allow you to optimize the game you’re currently playing or stream your session via YouTube Live. The former doesn’t appear to work right now, and I didn’t meet YouTube’s requirements for mobile live streaming.
Presumably you won’t have to dig to find the game mode in the final version of Android 12, as this would be a very inconvenient departure from manufacturer implementations. Many manufacturers automatically display a game mode/tools via a small screen overlay, floating toolbar, or in the notification shade when you’re playing a game.
XDA-Developers previously posted an early Android 12 screenshot showing a floating toolbar for games, so it seems like Google is/was thinking about a similar approach as OEMs.
Google is set to release its next major version of Android — Android 12 — later this year, following a series of Developer Previews and Betas that will likely start rolling out later this month. Ahead of the stable release, Google shares documentation and source code with its major partners in order to give them time to prepare for the release. Today, an alleged early draft of a document that Google made to summarize changes in Android 12 leaked online, and screenshots showcasing the new UI and functional changes were extracted from the document. While we can’t fully confirm the authenticity of these screenshots, we have seen evidence that the document in question is, in fact, real, and furthermore that these screenshots indeed came from said document. With that in mind, here’s what we’re seeing right now.
One of the alleged Android 12 screenshots showcases a new notifications panel UI. The transparency is gone and replaced with an opaque light beige background, though the color likely depends on the current theme and/or whether or not Dark Mode is enabled. The separation between the “conversations” section with the rest of the notifications is still there, and the rounded corners of each notification are now more pronounced. The number of Quick Settings tiles that are shown when the notification panel is partially expanded has been reduced from 6 to 4, causing each icon to become larger. The positions of the date and clock have been swapped, while there are also new privacy indicators in the top right-hand corner.
Speaking of which, it seems that Google may add new privacy features in Android 12. In the new Android version, you may receive a warning in the form of status bar indicators whenever an app is using the camera or microphone. Tapping on these status bar icons may show a pop-up at the top of the screen that tells you exactly which app(s) are using the camera or microphone. Google has been testing these privacy chips for over 2 years now, so it would be nice to see them finally make an appearance in Android 12.
Related to this change is an alleged revamp to the “Privacy” settings in Android 12. The new Privacy settings may contain toggles to disable the camera and mute the microphone entirely, in addition to toggling location access. You can already disable all sensors on your device by using the “sensors off” Quick Setting tile, but this tile can only be shown once you enable Developer Options. Android 12 may make these sensor toggles more user-accessible by placing them in the Privacy settings.
Lastly, we have what appears to be a new addition to Android’s widget selection. When Apple recently added widgets to iOS, we argued that they’re better than Android’s implementation in some ways. While we don’t know if Google is planning a major overhaul of widgets, it does look like they at least plan to make a few changes. In a few screenshots, we can see an alleged new “Conversations” widget in Android 12 that may highlight recent messages, missed calls, or activity statuses. The widget that’s shown is small and only seems to be big enough to accommodate showing one message/call/status at a time in its smallest size.
One of the documents we viewed shortly after the publication of this article reveals that Google plans to make “conversation widgets” a mandatory feature for all Android 12 devices. These widgets provide access to “People Shortcuts” which contain an avatar, name, notification content, and status information, all set in the PeopleManager class.
According to a screenshot of the document we viewed, Google is also planning to mandate the inclusion of camera and microphone indicators in Android 12. These indicators must be shown prominently at the top of the screen, always be visible whenever the camera or microphone is being accessed, and must have the same color across the ecosystem. We don’t know what other changes will be mandated until we get our hands on the full Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) for Android 12.
Again, since we haven’t received the full document in question, we can’t 100% verify the authenticity of these images. However, the screenshot we received of the document comes from a trusted source who has, in recent times, shared other confidential documents with us. If we receive more evidence corroborating these alleged screenshots of Android 12, we’ll follow-up in a separate post. We also asked Google to comment on this leak and will update this article if we hear back.
If you’re interested in learning more about what’s in store in the next major Android release, check out XDA Android 12 tag. We expect there’ll be a better theming system, decoupled emojis, an app hibernation feature, and many more features that have yet to be uncovered. When Google unveils its first Developer Preview in the next few weeks, don’t expect to see all of these changes show up. That’s because the builds that Google releases prior to its I/O developer conference tend to miss out on a lot of the more interesting user-facing features.
Thanks to XDA Senior Member RKBD for bringing these images to our attention, and thanks to their tipster (who wishes to remain anonymous) for their help in corroborating these images!