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What’s new in the first Android 12 Developer Preview

This green circle (we added to the background) is the Android 12 logo, we guess.
Enlarge / This green circle (we added to the background) is the Android 12 logo, we guess.

The first preview of the Android 12 developer hit the streets on Thursday, and we’ve been playing with it for a day. There̵

7;s not much to see in this release – at least not in the beginning. Most of the interesting pieces are hidden, and the developer community is slowly making them possible. Many changes are half-finished alpha adjustments that will look different in the final release; After all, Google says that these releases are for “testing and feedback.”

This first release of Android 12 is meant to get some APIs and other changes in front of people for feedback, but it is also designed not to flush the prayers too much on what the final version of Android 12 will look like. With that in mind, many of the features of a previous Android 12 leak seem right for the money. This public release is a disinfected building with many things turned off, but the more we turn to hidden flags and capture hints in the documentation, the more this building looks like a solid halfway between Android 11 and the leaked Android 12 screens.

Notification panel

Google can never let an Android release go without some changes in the notification, and this year it looks like we’ll get a new design and a few other adjustments. Like everything else in the preview, we only get a half-finished look at things here.

There are many color changes. In the shipping preview code, the notification panel selects a background color that has a strong blue hue compared to the pure white Android Android 11. The buttons for turning off quick settings are also blue instead of gray. If you turn on dark mode, you get a notification panel that is dark gray instead of black. It is suspicious that all the colors in this building work a little different, and the Android 12 leak we saw earlier suggested perfectly customizable colors for everything (probably based on the background). All the color changes we see now can be a bit strange standards that will be changed before release. After all, changing colors should be very easy now.

For other changes, the app icons in the notifications panel look different. they are usually completely white icons in a colored circle. I think they use the same artwork as the status bar icons now, which will add a nice consistency.

There are new settings for the persistent media player alert that were introduced in Android 11. If you dig into the settings, it looks like you can now ban some apps from appearing in the persistent media player. There’s a section called ‘Allowed Apps’ and a bunch of checkboxes; they do not seem to be doing anything right now.

The ugly black line at the top of the notification panel has been removed and the background panel is more transparent. We hope Google changes this before the final release because the panel is currently so transparent that it is easy to confuse background app graphics with the notifications panel. Some have speculated that we lack blur in the background. A new API for “RenderEffect” makes it easy to blur elements.

If you look at Google’s developer documents, you will see a different alert design with more rounded corners, which fits well with the leak.

“Silky Home” settings

Many of the interesting features of Android 11 are hidden things we are not going to see yet. One of these fun additions is a hidden “Silky Home” flag for the settings, which was found by Android Authoritys Joe Hindy and XDAs Mishaal Rahman. The function flag makes the settings work as they do on a Samsung phone, where a large header at the top of each list pushes the top of the list down so that it is easier to reach when using the phone with one hand. We praised this feature when it debuted on Samsung phones, and it is also a good feature here. Hopefully this will be the dominant list style on Android. There is one more thing that is consistent with the previous Android 12 leak.

Much of the release still seems ruined. The main page of the settings does not have a heading that says “Settings”, so instead of a proper title, the Silky Home flag appears to inflate the first piece of text it can grab. In this case, you get a huge “Explore” Pixel Tips “, which is normally part of a rotating carousel with setting suggestions. The actual settings list gets lots of spaces, and each entry loses all its descriptive subtitles, making it harder to find settings.

There are three new sections now. “Apps and Alerts” are divided into “Apps” and “Alerts”, and new sections “Styles and Wallpapers” and “Security and Emergencies” appear. Styles & Wallpapers only pops up the existing home screen settings, where you can choose from wallpapers, icon shapes, and the icon grid. Many users probably have trouble finding this page via the usual method – long tapping on a blank area on the home screen – so this seems like a good idea. The “Safety and Emergency” section, which is also available without the Silky Home flag, appears to be just Pixel’s Personal Safety app.

The order of the settings list has been reorganized, and it appears that the list is broken up into logical sections with white spaces. It really feels like the sections are getting headlines like they had in older versions of Android. Networks and connected devices look like the “connection” section. Apps, alerts and digital well-being are all app-related. The group with battery storage, sound and screen looks like the “hardware” part etc.


It’s not just settings that prioritize accessibility. Rahman also found a hidden one-handed mode that seems to work in the same way as in iOS. When this feature is turned on, swipe down the range of motion and cause the top of the screen to shoot down so you can better reach the controls.

Rahman also found another secret feature that makes a sweeping gesture a system-wide way to open the notifications panel, another feature that saves users from reaching the very top of the screen. Right now it seems like you have to choose either simple alert opening or one-handed mode, since both functions use the same gesture.


That’s pretty much it for the big changes. It seems that Google is trying to store most of the big stuff no matter what form Google I / O takes later this year. As usual, there is an officially published timeline that promises releases every month from here until at least August.

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