Google, the communication giant has recently announced its Android 12L update — the one designed to give its OS a better experience on tablets and large folding devices. 12L is a special feature drop that makes Android 12 even great on large screens. While Beta 1 still seems very much pointed toward developers, it could be a chance to see what Google’s working on in a (slightly) more polished state than the developer preview.
With Android 12L, Google has optimized and polished the system UI for large screens, made multitasking more powerful and intuitive, and improved its compatibility support for apps so they look better by default. Google is also adding a two-column UI for devices with larger screens, which will let you get at more information at once for things like the notification shade and lock screen.
12L Powerful and intuitive multitasking
Users often multitask when using the larger screens of tablets, Chromebooks, and foldables. Google says in 12L, new productivity features make multitasking even more powerful and intuitive. Running apps in split-screen mode is a popular way of multitasking, and in 12L split-screen is now easier than ever to discover and use. Users can now drag and drop their favorite apps into split-screen directly from the taskbar, or they can also use a new “Split” action in the overview to start split-screen mode with a tap.
Refined System UI in a new two-column layout
12L refines the system UI to make it more beautiful and easier to use on large screens—across notifications, quick settings, lockscreen, overview, the home screen, and more. On large screens, the notification shade takes advantage of the space by showing Quick Settings and notifications in a new two-column layout. The lock screen also uses a larger two-column layout to highlight notifications and clock, and system apps like Settings are also optimized.
Large screen layouts display more content in a two-column layout. We also focused on making key interactions easier on larger screens. For example, the lock screen pattern and PIN controls on tablets are now displayed at the side of the screen for easier reach, and users can simply tap the other side of the screen to bring the pin/pattern controls over to that side. For foldables, the home screen grid and the fold-unfold transition is now polished, so that users move seamlessly from a single exterior screen to the larger unfolded screen, reinforcing continuity while preserving their choices.
12L adds a new taskbar that makes it easier to launch and switch apps on the fly. Gestures make using the taskbar even faster, with drag and drop to enter split-screen mode and swipe up to go home. In gesture navigation, a quick-switch gesture lets users flip through recent apps. Users can reveal or hide the taskbar at any time with a long press.
The taskbar lets users launch and switch apps faster, drag and drop to enter split-screen mode, and swipe up to go back home.
Google plans to release 12L in a feature drop in early 2022, in time for the next wave of Android 12 tablets, Chromebooks, and foldables. With these features coming to devices in the months ahead, now is a great time to get your apps ready. You can get started by downloading the 12L emulator or by getting 12L on a partner device.
Developers are not left out as Google added a handful of developer APIs. As with the developer preview, Google says you should be able to run the beta on an actual large-screen device if you have a Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, though it does say that the beta won’t be available until “a later date.” If you don’t have one of those lying around or don’t feel like waiting, you can also run the 12L beta in an emulator to get a feel for how it’ll look when it becomes more widely available.