Today at Google I/O 2021, we were presented with a new beta build of the next major version of Android. While a final, consumer-ready release isn’t expected until later this year, Android 12 is already shaping up to be one of the platform’s most significant updates in years.
Google is focusing on two main pillars with Android 12: personalization and privacy. The former is something that Google’s version of Android has never adopted as a headline feature. And with Apple’s big focus on app tracking transparency in iOS 14.5, it’s more important than ever that Google shows users it’s listening and cares about people’s privacy.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it.
Related: Android 12: Everything confirmed and rumored so far.
Design changes and new features
This is one of the most important Android updates since Material Design was first introduced. There will be major visual changes, privacy and security updates, a new theming engine, and more.
Customization and theming
Android 12 will look completely different from previous Android versions. It’s more modern and personal than ever. There’s a reason: Google has developed a new theming engine for Android that extracts colors from your device’s wallpaper and applies them to different parts of the OS, such as your lock screen, Quick Settings panel, Settings menu, widgets etc.
The system identifies primary and complementary wallpaper colors to apply to the software. And if you’re not a fan of a particular color scheme, you can customize it to your liking.
Unfortunately, the first Android 12 beta doesn’t have the new theming engine. This will be added in a release as we near the final release this fall. It is coming, but we have to be patient. Dang! You can see what it will look like in the video above.
In the first Android 12 beta, you get the same customization options that you normally get on Android 11. You can choose from predefined accent colors in the Styles and Wallpapers settings menu. Nothing from your current wallpaper is applied though. Android 12 will also introduce all new widgets and a new home screen layout, but again, those aren’t available yet. They are also shown in the video above.
The new customization options are part of Google’s Material Design reboot, called Material You. you You can read more about it here.
Improved quick settings and notification shade.
The Quick Settings panel has always been one of the most functional tools on Android. This is where you access your brightness slider, various device settings and even your media control notifications after the launch of Android 11.
Now it’s time for another big change.
The Quick Settings panel is still there, but it looks completely different. Gone are the small circular icons and thin glossy sliders. Each icon is a long, rectangular button with…