Today at the I / O Developer conference, Google pulled the wraps off the first beta for Android 12. In addition to releasing the beta for phones for Pixels, OnePlus, TCL and more, the company has some great sense of Android. It̵
Welcome Privacy Changes
In terms of privacy, Google has spent a lot of time claiming a position of privacy in the first place. Whether it’s automatically deleting your Google activity after 18 months (no less by default), or the promise to never sell your data, Google says your privacy comes first.
A few changes to Android should help with that argument. One of the largest and more welcome centers on your smartphone’s camera and microphone. If you’ve turned on a desktop webcam, a handy light will warn you so that a program can’t activate it without your knowledge. Why should smartphones not do the same? At least that’s what Google seems to think with new notifications that pop up when an app uses your camera or microphone.
And sometimes you just don’t want an app to access your camera or microphone, even if you’ve previously given permission. In Android 12, you’ll find two new options in the notification shade to disable webcam or microphone access to any app, even apps that you’ve previously allowed access to the hardware.
In addition to these options, Android 12 introduces a new privacy dashboard, so you can see which apps have access to your data and easily revoke it if you change your mind. Google also gives you more permission options, including new detailed location options to prevent an app from getting too much information.
A new, more colorful material you
Google introduced the material design concept back in Google I / O 2014 and has grown and evolved since then. But at Google I / O 2021, it took a big step forward and even got a new name: Material You. That’s because the colors are now focused on your choices and preferences.
Now when you set a custom background image, all widgets on the screen should be automatically adjusted to look better with your background. Google will examine your image and choose dominant and complementary colors and apply them to the notification shade, lock screen, volume controls, new widgets and more. It should provide a more consistent palette on your phone, all based on your background photo of choice.
Along the way, Google also promised smoother animations and buzzing buttons. The redesigned Material You brings a bit of whimsy to Android. But you will lose something in the process – or rather, it will move. The new power menu introduced by Android 11 will be moved to the notification shade. Now if you press and hold the power button, you’ll summon Google Assistant instead. You’ll find the old Power Menu options buried in the Quick Settings section, putting them in a place with similar controls.
Google released the first beta for Android 12 today, but like the three developer previews, you might not want to try it out. While you can test it on more phones someday, the beta also has some serious limitations. On OnePlus, installing the beta requires a full data wipe, and it will break the fingerprint and face unlock along with video calling. All betas come with bugs, so maybe wait until the full release for now.