Android 12 and the big deal with little touches


Ahh — can you smell it? The scent of freshly baking Android software is very much in the air this week, as Android 12’s first official developer preview teases us with a tiny taste of what’s to come.

Google launched the inaugural public version of Android 12 last week, and the internet’s many software-sniffing sleuths have been hard at work pokin’ around and clawing at its many crevices to uncover every last hint of the treats lurking within.

So far, Android 12 doesn’t look like much — and for good reason: This latest Android version really is a true developer preview, with mostly just technical changes aimed at, y’know, developers. It actually makes an awful lot of sense, even if Android previews in the past have generally been a little more elaborate early on.

But don’t despair. Despite the limited number of new front-facing features in the current version of the software, the combination of tucked-away bits of code in its corners and prerelease leaks surrounding the preview gives us a pretty interesting picture of some of the flavors Android 12 might end up serving.

It’s creating a pretty unusual situation, too, as it’s forcing us to focus mostly on those relatively little touches — the sorts of small but significant enhancements that often get lost in the bigger-picture view of a new Android release. And lemme tell ya: If everything we’re seeing now ends up making it into the final Android 12 software this fall, we could have some very helpful new tools at our fingertips.

Here’s one example: Signs suggest Android 12 will include a new smarter autorotate system — something that really has me geeking out over the subtle but significant quality-of-life improvement it could provide. The system would apparently use your phone’s front-facing camera to continuously detect which way your head is turned, relative to your phone, and then automatically adjust your screen’s rotation in the way that makes the most sense for any given moment.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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