Android 12, as the successor of Android 11, was publicly released on October 4, 2021, with many new features and improvements, as expected.
This guide summarizes the top 12 new features of Android 12 that most users will like (or need) to know. A concise explanation of each of these new features is provided to help users, especially those upgraded from Android 11, quickly start to use these new features.
Detailed step-by-step guides for some of these new features of Android 12 will be covered in other posts separately (and listed on the Android 12 Guides page).
Please note, a few big Android vendors (e.g., Samsung) may implement a few of these features differently in their Android 12 releases. So, if your phone is not running the stock (or near-stock) Android 12, you may find the settings are in different locations or have different options.
If you have questions about getting the Android 12 update for your device, you may check this guide.
Here is our list of the top 12 new features of Android 12.
1. Redesigned UI: one of the most eye-catching new features of Android 12
After you update to Android 12, you will very likely be surprised by the huge digital clock on the lock screen.
This is just an example of dramatic changes in the redesigned UI (user interface).
Based on Google, the redesigned UI in Android 12 lets users feel more comfortable. For example, you will see more space in the notification panel. The quick settings panel is no longer just icons: the name and current status (if applicable) are also shown.
The redesigned UI in Android 12 actually changed the entire user interface, from shapes, light and motion, to customizable system colours.
It is also a lot easier to customize the Android 12 UI.
2. Camera and microphone access indicator: the most practical new features of Android 12
Android 12 now lets you know whenever the camera or microphone is accessed by an app. So, this is an addition to the location access control introduced in Android 10 to protect your privacy.
In the status bar, you will see the camera and microphone icons when they are being accessed.
And if you don’t want any apps to access your microphone or camera, you can completely disable camera and microphone access globally in the quick settings panel in Android 12. By default, these two quick setting buttons are hidden.
You need to tap the pencil icon (bottom left) in the quick settings panel then drag them up to have these toggle switches always available in Quick Settings.
3. Privacy dashboard: one of the most well-polished new features of Android 12
The new privacy dashboard in Android 12 presents both the summary (how many times and who) and history (when and wh0) info of apps that accessed location, camera, and microphone over the past 24 hours.
If an app gains (of course you granted) some permissions (e.g., call history, messages, contacts), it will also be reported similarly. So, you can quickly know which apps are using which permission and how many times the permissions were used in the last 24 hours.
In addition to the aggregated info on privacy, a quick link to manage the corresponding permissions is provided. So, you can quickly revoke some permissions for specific apps.
4. Gaming dashboard (gaming mode)
The gaming mode in Android 12 is a somewhat hidden feature and therefore overlooked by many Android 12 users.
You need to enable Android 12 gaming mode in Settings — Notifications — Do Not Disturb — Schedules — Gaming (in stock Android).
Although the Gaming schedule is enabled by default in stock Android 12, you need to tap the gear icon next to Gaming to enable the Game Dashboard (and possibly enable/disable Do Not Disturb in gaming mode),
After enabling the game dashboard, you will see the game dashboard icon when playing games.
The Game dashboard on Android 12 allows you:
- Optimize the game (if supported).
- Live stream to YouTube Live.
- Take a screenshot.
- Record the gameplay using the native screen recorder.
- Check the screen frame rates.
Of course, some Android vendors have offered similar tools or optimization for a long time. For example, Samsung’s Game launcher offers more options.
5. Quickly snooze notifications
Now, in Android 12, a snooze button for each notification was added so that you can tap to snooze the notification for a while.
By default, the notification will snooze for one hour. Of course, you can change the duration to 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours in the drop-down menu.
Please note, you need to enable “Allow notification snoozing” before you can use these features.
You may follow this guide to learn to use and customize notification snoozing in Android 12.
6. Scrolling screenshots
When taking a screenshot for a multi-screen page, you may want to capture all contents in one picture instead of one screen by one screen with manual scrolling.
Surprisingly, it took a long time for Google to release the scrolling screenshots. Some Android vendors have implemented this feature for a while already (e.g., scroll capture in Samsung Galaxy phones).
Anyway, in Android 12, you can now easily take screenshots for multi-screen pages.
When taking screenshots on Android 12, you now can find a new “Capture more” button to append more screens in the screenshot.
7. Private Compute Core
To address the privacy concerns for ML and AI, in the last few years, Google gradually offloaded the processing from the cloud to your phone so that most of the data do not leave the phone at all.
In Android 12, Google created a separated and secured workspace for these data. The raw data (e.g., voice recordings) will be secured in the Private Compute Core. The system can only retrieve the processed results.
Currently, Private Compute Core coves Live Caption, Now Playing, and Smart Reply features, which can be handled locally (i.e., raw data do not leave the phone).
8. Easy switching
Like Smart Switch in Samsung Galaxy phones, Android 12 now makes it easier to migrate from old phones.
You can easily migrate from an old phone to Android 12 through a USB cable or a shared WiFi connection. Most of the data and some settings can be migrated.
Android 10 introduced the WiFi sharing feature through a QR code.
In Android 12, Google makes WiFi share even simpler:
- You can share the WiFi from the Quick Settings (Internet button).
- You can use Nearby to share the WiFi, in addition to a QR code.
10. Improved Quick Settings: the most useful new features of Android 12
Android 12 Quick Settings went beyond the UI redesign. There are a few fundamental (and good) changes.
These changes include:
- Icons are more than bigger icons. The big rectangular buttons with both icons and text are definitely more user-friendly. Of course, these buttons will take more space compared to the old icon buttons.
- Google Pay finds its new home. Google finally finds a location for its payment system in the Quick Settings in Android 12.
- Smart device controls are now in Quick Settings. The power button was relieved from device controls in Android 12. Instead, you can control your smart devices from Quick Settings. It does make sense.
- New buttons. As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of new quick setting buttons in Android 12. For example, camera and microphone access, Extra Dim, and alarms are added to Quick Settings in the stock Android 12.
Of course, some buttons may work slightly different now. But overall, you still use and customize the Android 12 Quick Settings in the same way as before.
11. AppSearch (on-device search)
In Android 12, on-device search for apps, functions/features of apps, and contents of apps are unified in AppSearch.
In the stock Android 12, the search bar in the App Drawer can search all contents on the phone, not just app names or system settings.
Of course, individual app developers can still control how the data are indexed and shared.
12. One-hand mode
Android 12 also introduced the one-hand mode to allow you to use the phone comfortably with one hand only.
Unlike the one-hand mode implemented by some Android vendors previously, the Android 12 one-hand mode is implemented as a system navigation feature, not an accessibility feature. You must use the navigation gestures (not navigation buttons) to use the one-hand mode in Android 12.
You need to enable the Android 12 one-hand mode in Settings — System — Gestures.
Do you have any questions about the new features of Android 12?
If you have any questions on the new features of Android 12 or using these features, please let us know in the comments section below.
For other Android 12 guides, you may check the Android 12 guides page.
If you are still on other versions of Android, you may check these guides:
- For Android 11, please check the Android 11 guides page.
- For Android 10, please check the Android 10 guides page.
- For Android Pie (Android 9), please check the Android Pie guides page.
- For Android Oreo (Android 8.0 and 8.1), please check the Android Oreo guides page.
- For Android Nougat (Android 7.0 and 7.1), please check the Android Nougat guides page.
- For Android Marshmallow (Android 6.0), please check the Android Marshmallow guide page.
- For Android Lollipop (Android 5.0 and 5.1), please check the Android Lollipop guide page.
- For other general Android questions or problems, please check the Android 101 page.
Enjoy your Android 12!