Android 12: Release date, new features and everything else we know

Android 12: Release date, new features and everything else we know

Google is expected to unveil the final version of Android 12 at the Google I/O developers conference.


Juan Garzon/CNET

Android users have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest version of the operating system, Android 12, since Google unveiled it back in February. With Google’s annual developer conference Google I/O starting next week, it’s likely we’ll get a better look at the final version of Android 12, and find out when we can expect it to arrive. 

Here’s everything we’ve learned about Android 12 so far, based on the features we’ve seen in the developer beta as well as some rumors that have arisen. (If you’re an Apple user, here are all the rumors about the upcoming iOS 15 update.) 

When will Android 12 get released?

Google hasn’t announced when Android 12 will be released generally, but it usually releases the final version of a major Android update around August or September. Android 11 arrived on Sept. 8, 2020, and Android 10 launched Sept. 3, 2019. As always, it will be a free download for Android users.

Can I download the Android 12 beta? 

Android 12 is currently available to download in developer beta. However, as the name suggests, this version is meant only for developers — most betas are buggy, and can harm your device. If you still want to try out the developer beta, I strongly recommend downloading it on a tester device, and not your primary phone. (Here’s how to download the Android 12 developer beta.)

Typically, Google releases a public beta of the latest Android version in May, around the time of Google I/O, which starts next Tuesday. If you want to try it out early, this is your best bet — the public beta typically has fewer bugs and problems, though it’s still best to download it on a tester device. 

google-io-2019-0936

Google will hold its I/O conference virtually for the second year in a row, instead of at its usual setting at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. 


James Martin/CNET

How will I download Android 12 when it’s generally available? 

As is usually the case with major Android updates, exactly how and when you’ll get the update depends on who makes your device, like Google, Samsung, OnePlus or Xiaomi. But generally, once the update starts rolling out, you’ll go to System > Advanced > System update > Check for update

What devices will be compatible with Android 12?

With the vast number of Android phones available, it’s difficult to list all the ones that will support the update to Android 12. But generally, you can expect the Google Pixel 3 and later to be compatible with Android 12, along with newer phones from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Nokia, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo and other manufacturers. The website GetDroidTips has collected an extensive list of devices it expects will be compatible with Android 12. 

Google's Pixel 5 smartphone

You’ll be able to download Android 12 on your Google Pixel 3a and later. 


Stephen Shankland/CNET

What new features will Android 12 include?

Android 12 will be a major update to the OS with a number of new features. Here’s some of what we’ve seen so far in the developer beta, and a few rumors we’ve heard about what could be included. 

App privacy features

With Android 12, Google is adding several new privacy features to apps to give you more transparency and control, according to an Android Developers blog post. One update gives you more information about how cookies can be used across sites. Another changes how apps export information, which can prevent them from accidentally exporting activities, services and receivers. 

However, it’s worth noting that these policies are less strict than those in Apple’s recent iOS 14 software releases, which includes app “nutrition labels” that tell people what personal data their apps are collecting, and the new change in iOS 14.5 that requires developers to ask for permission to gather your data and track you across apps and websites. 


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Our first look at Android 12



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Redesigned notifications

Google is changing up the design of notifications to make them more modern and functional. When you tap on a notification, it will take you directly to the app or action you want to take, instead of going through an intermediary service to start that action. This should make everything run faster, according to the developer blog post.

As noted by tech site XDA Developers, Android 12 also gets a new button that lets you snooze unimportant notifications, and choose how long to do so. You can also turn on adaptive notifications ranking to let Android rearrange your notifications based on how you work with different apps, and reset the ranking if you don’t like it.

Double-tap options

Another new feature lets you tap the back of your Android phone a set number of times to trigger the action of your choosing. Once you enable it in settings under Gestures, you’ll see a list of actions you can set, like taking a screenshot, playing and pausing media or launching Google Assistant. 

One-handed mode

Android 12 appears to include a few design changes that make it easier to operate Android phones with one hand and your thumb. XDA Developers noted that the updated settings UI moves the Search bar to the bottom of the display for easier one-handed access. It also uncovered a new feature called “silky home” that makes the entire interface more suitable for one-handed use. 

Google Pixel 5

A new Android 12 feature will make it easier to use your phone with one hand.


Juan Garzon/CNET

Face-based auto-rotate

Today, you can turn your phone portrait or landscape and the screen will adjust with you. With Android 12, on Pixel phones, it appears you’ll be able to choose to Auto-Rotate based on the way your head is turned — for example, if you’re lying down, according to 9to5Google

Trash and recycle bin management

Android has a hidden Recycle Bin/Trash feature that Google may allow you to manage with Android 12, according to XDA Developers. It looks like you’ll be able to see how much storage space your trashed items take up, and clear the trash as needed. 

For more, check out three cool things Android 12 will be able to do that Android 11 can’t, and the best Android phones to buy for 2021.

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