Android 12 is a tale of two different Android updates — at least from a business perspective.
On the other hand, if you own a Pixel phone, Google’s latest and greatest software is easily the most important Android release since the Android 5.0 Lollipop era of 2014. Android 12 introduces an all-new interface and design language that is much more than just a new coat of paint. It reimagines Android’s identity and transforms practically every part of the operating system – and even extends to a growing number of third-party applications.
If you own a Samsung device, on the other hand, Android 12 likely won’t feel like it. As is often the case, Samsung has omitted many of Google’s most significant design changes and skipped some key feature elements of the software. As I’ve been saying for years, there are actually two very different Android experiences – the Google Android experience that’s mostly found only on Pixel phones at this point, and then the alternate reality version of Android that Samsung brings to its devices.
If you own a phone made by anyone other than Google or Samsung – well, time will tell. Until more phone makers start getting Android 12 on their devices, we won’t know for sure. But odds are it probably falls somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum.
No matter what flavor of Android 12 you taste, a host of new treasures are waiting to be discovered. Read on to learn the ins and outs of cool new software for your phone and how to make the most of the changes, both big and small.
1. While the most important privacy advance in Android 12 is under the hood and invisible, one of the front-end additions that you’ll absolutely want to reveal is the new software series from Keys to control the phone’s microphone and camera.
In short, Android 12 gives you the ability to disable any item at any moment with one quick tap. But in many cases, it’s up to you to show the keys ahead of time and make sure they’re available in case you ever need them.
- Swipe down twice from the top of the screen to open the full Quick Settings panel.
- Look for the option to edit quick settings. In the Google version of Android, it will be a pencil-shaped icon in the lower left corner of the panel. On Samsung phones, you’ll have to tap the three-dotted menu icon in the top-right corner of the panel, then select “Edit Buttons” on the popup.
- Find the “Access the camera” and “Access the microphone” boxes. You may have to scroll down (or to the right, on Samsung devices) to the inactive tile area to find it.
- Once you see it, tap on it with your finger, one at a time, and drag it to the active area of the quick settings panel.
- Tap the arrow pointing to the left in the corner of the screen (or tap the Done button at the bottom, with Samsung) when you’re done.
With that a step away, you’ll now have a one-click toggle to turn off your camera or microphone, should the need for such a quick toggle arise.
2. Another notable privacy improvement for Android 12 is the front end New privacy dashboard. It gives you a simple, streamlined place to see exactly which system permissions your apps are using and then revert that access as you see fit.
You can find the Privacy Dashboard by heading to the Privacy section of your system settings. There, you’ll see something small like this:
It will look a little different on Samsung devices, but the basics should be present on most devices running Android 12.
It’s worth noting that you can click on any specific permission to reveal a detailed timeline of exactly which apps were clicked in that data area and when:
From there, you can sometimes see specific interpretations of Why An app requested this permission – if the developer took the time to provide this context. You’ll know this information is available when you see a small circled “i” to the left of the app line.
3. While looking at the new privacy dashboard for Android 12, tap on the name of any app Review all allowed permissions and optionally Revoke or reduce any of these access areas. It should be noted that the location, camera, and microphone permissions provide more precise options to allow access only when the app is in use or even to request manual authorization each time access is requested.
4. You can get more granular details with location access in Android 12 and decide if you want the app to be able to access Flour Location – as in, exactly where you are, provided by GPS – or if you prefer Restrict the app to your view only approximate your locationwhich only shows your neighborhood based on your current network connections.
Open the Location permission in the same area of your privacy dashboard, then select any app in the list to find the option.
5. Includes Android 12 A The new one-handed mode It can make it much easier to get around your phone with one paw. In the Android version of Google, you can activate it by going to the System section of your phone’s settings, then tapping “Gestures” followed by “One-handed mode.”
Flip the “Use one-handed mode” toggle to the on position, and consider if you want the system to shrink your entire screen to a smaller area of the screen, as follows:
…or if you prefer to simply pull down the notification panel without forcing you to stretch to the top of the screen.
Either way, once it’s activated, you can operate the mode with one hand by swiping down the bottom center area of your screen — starting about half an inch from the bottom and moving to the bottom perimeter. Note that you will need to use Android gestures for it to work.
On a Samsung device, find the advanced features area of your phone’s settings and tap “One-handed mode” to get started. Once activated, the system (which was already available in that environment even before Android 12 arrived) will work more or less the same way we just went, only without the possibility of a notification panel as an option.
6. Speaking of notifications, have you noticed an intriguing new icon in the lower right corner of the various alerts?
This New look for notification snooze function in Androidwhich was hidden away from the long press in previous Android versions (and thus has been overlooked by most phone living beings).
Now, all you have to do is tap on that sweet little icon any time you want to send a notification away and schedule it to come back at some point in the future. By default, your notification will be delayed by 1 hour, but you can also choose to bring it back in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, if you prefer.
7. Android Useful notification date option For a while now, but Android 12 continues the annoying tradition of keeping this feature disabled by default and completely out of sight — so most people never know it’s available.
Here’s how to reverse and activate the orientation on your Android device:
- Head to the Notifications section of your system settings.
- In the Google version of Android, click on the line labeled “Notification History”. On a Samsung phone, tap “Advanced Settings” and Then Click on “Notification Record”.
- Turn the toggle switch at the top of the screen that then appears to the on position.
And that’s it: You can now always pull up a list of recent notifications in the same area to review any recent alerts, even after clearing them away.
8. Did you find your phone too bright for comfort, even at the lowest screen brightness setting? Try the newly added Android 12 Additional dipped switch To view the darkroom more comfortably. The option is available as a quick settings tile, so swipe down twice from the top of the screen to find it — and if you don’t see it there, use the same steps we went for in our first tip to reveal it and bring it up to the active area.
9. Alert, Pixel owners with Pixel 4 or higher: Make sure to go to the Display section of your device’s system settings and tap “Auto-rotate screen”. There, you will find a smart new option to let your phone use its front camera Automatically detects the way your face is positioned Then make sure the screen orientation always matches.
That way, even if you’re lying on the couch and holding your phone at an angle, the screen will stay in its portrait orientation instead of flipping into landscape mode and driving you to the battery.
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