Google Rolling Out Android 12 Developer Preview

Google Launches Android 12 Developer Preview

On Thursday, February 18, Google surprised everyone by unexpectedly releasing a preliminary version of its latest mobile operating system Android 12. Just like before, it is available only to developers and on a restricted number of devices.

As stated in the official release statement, the preliminary version of Android 12 will let developers take a first look at the new operating system and test it, so that they can then give their feedback to Google. Yet keep in mind that it can only be installed on reference devices from the Pixel series, like smartphones Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5G and Pixel 5. And since Google did not tell about all the changes that Android 12 holds, we will have to wait for the first comments from the developers. What we already know is that in the new version of Android, the creators have advanced navigation with gestures, added the Wi-Fi Aware technology for connecting gadgets, allowed applications to set up tactile feedback, and paid attention to ensuring privacy and security.

The pre-release version of Android 12 allows developers to put together their applications for release of a new generation of mobile operating system. The main aim of the first stage of testing is that Google together with testers can check out new APIs, go through all innovations and spot potential issues and weaknesses of the product.

It is also worth saying that the order of testing and launching new versions of the OS at Google is different from the method used by competitors, namely, by Apple. The fact is that first Google releases a preliminary version of the next-generation Android for developers and then only a few months after that announces a new build. Typically, the promotion of the next version of Android takes place at the Google I/O exhibition in May or June.

Compatible Formats in Android 12

To jump straight to it, Android 12 will have a new transcoding layer that automatically makes the HEVC video format operate in applications that do not natively support them. As of now, selecting to shoot in HEVC format on an Android phone means that third-party apps won’t be able to play the video. A new level of transcoding for these applications lets users easily switch between them.

Android 12 will also have spatial audio and MPEG-H features, and will be optimized to impart to 24 channels of audio (up from eight previously). It will also make it easier for developers to link noise effects to sound.

Google officially supports the AV1 image file format, also known as AVIF. Thus, AVIF is going to replace JPG as the standard image format, offering much cleaner compression with fewer issues. Netflix, for instance, has also been a big fan of this format.

AV1 might sound familiar to you since it’s an offshoot of the AV1 video format that most tech giants proposed a few years ago. Netflix and Google partially embraced it. At the same time AVIF should not be confused with the similar HEIF that Apple’s cameras have been using for a long time now.

On that matter, Google states that it has no intention of making AVI the default image format for the camera app, rather just testing it for other products.

By concentrating on multimedia, Android 12 will have better results at transmitting different types of media between apps. It has a new “Insert Wide Content” API that let you cut and paste or drag various types of content, including “simple and stylized text for markup, images, videos, audio files, and more”.

New Features of Android 12

In 2019, Google started upgrading certain features directly in the Android OS, not waiting for operators to complete an overall update. The named “Project Mainline” meant that Google aimed at releasing security updates for most parts of Android that use Google Play infrastructure. Since then, it has introduced more new components of Android to the mainline system. An significant addition to Android 12 is the Android Runtime (ART), a principal Subsystem for operating Android applications. The above-mentioned multimedia transcoder will also be considered as the key module.

Android 12 will also include a few privacy and security updates, but they will not be so distinct for most users. The WebView engine, which is used by third-party applications, runs one of the latest Chrome cookie settings called “SameSite”, which now helps with tracking. Google states that “later preliminary versions [will] have more privacy and security features”.

Additionally, Android started demanding apps to give notifications when they start any background optimization, which can be quite distracting. In Android 12, Google says that it will “block the launch of the foreground service from the background”, sending developers to the new API. Yet in case one of these background editions could be completed in less than 10 seconds, it may not need to be notified after all.

Google has also decided to simultaneously release a preliminary version of Android 12 for Android TV, giving developers the chance to check out their apps on their own Google TV platform.

What’s In Store Android 12?

It is expected by many that within several month there will be a public beta released. And if Google is still faithful to its past trends, there will be a more detailed review of what will happen with Android 12 in May or June.

Last year, the Android release for “platform stability” happened in early July, but this year Google is planning to launch the official release later than usual, in August.

For the time being, we can check out the developer preview to see what other features can be found there. Most generally, there would be quite a few hints hidden in the code to give us a good impression of Google’s final intention for Android.


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