Nothing says change like a new appearance and Google is making some of those changes with its next Android 12 OS – as revealed in their recent I/O 2021 conference – which will give the UI a new look. Widgets will get a curvier redesign, along with different sizes and the ability to change the system to better match the chosen wallpaper. There will also be the introduction of more animations to make things look even more fluid, although Google promises that the actual package manager and different windows are further optimised so that it will actually be less intensive on the processor. Something which would be impressive if they are able to get that right.
There will also be new privacy features for location, camera, and microphone. A little green dot in the upper-right of the screen will appear when your camera and microphone are switched on, so you’re not caught unaware when accidentally recording something. There are also now two optional toggles in Quick Settings for turning them off entirely at a system level.
Interestingly, when an app tries to make use of one of them, Android will pop up a box asking if you want to turn it back on. If you choose not to, the app will think it has access to the camera or mic, but all Android gives it is a black nothingness and silence. As for location, Google is adding another option for what kind of access you can grant an app. Alongside the options to limit access to one time or just when the app is open, there are settings for granting either “approximate” or “precise” locations.
The last big update was the announcement of a new core within the Android kernel that will set aside a portion of the processor for anything AI-related to help improve the performance of these intensive processing features. There were very few updates on how Google was going to treat its vast advertising platform within Android itself, though they did reveal that they are looking into it:
There’s obviously a lot changing in the ecosystem. One thing about Google is it is a platform company. It’s also a company that is deep in the advertising space. So, we’re thinking very deeply about how we should evolve the advertising system. You see what we’re doing on Chrome.
From our standpoint on Android, we don’t have anything to announce at the moment, but we are taking a position that privacy and advertising don’t need to be directly opposed to each other. That, we don’t believe, is healthy for the overall ecosystem as a company. So, we’re thinking about that working with our developer partners and we’ll be sharing more later this year.
Android 12 will be making its way to Beta soon, with Google’s Pixel devices the first to get it before it makes its way to other native Google devices. Manufacturers that use their own forked version of Android will ultimately take a longer period of time before updating their own software to the new Android version.
Last Updated: May 20, 2021