Google released the first Android 12 Developer Preview build earlier this week. To many of us who were expecting the major design overhaul seen earlier in the Android 12 leak, the first official release was quite underwhelming — despite a host of new improvements it brought to Android’s functionality. Of course, this is just the first developer preview, and Google is set to follow a monthly update routine before the stable release in September 2021 but there was definitely room to make it better. Do you agree that the first release could have been more impressive?
Android 12 brings visible design changes, including the new spaced-out notifications shade, while a bluish color replaces the white background color that we have seen since Android Lollipop. The new Android version also makes certain toggles in Settings bigger and organizes menus better. But the update left us yearning for any significant visual changes — like wallpaper-tied background color, the new Conversations dynamic widgets, or the privacy indicators. Google did tease a one-handed mode that can be toggled with a feature flag, but it is also half-based at the moment.
Although the current build fails to impress us with its UI updates, XDA’s Editor-in-Chief, Mishaal Rahman, managed to activate some of the hidden features in Android 12 Developer Preview. These features include a native one-handed mode in Android 12 similar to iOS’s Reachability setting. Along with this, Google is working on better one-hand usage by shifting UI elements half-way down on the display in a similar fashion that Samsung has implemented with One UI — or OnePlus with OxygenOS 11. These settings are hidden behind a “Silky Home” feature flag.
Here’s Android 12’s one-handed mode – fully working. Sadly, it’s like Apple’s Reachability (vertically downsizing) rather than OHM on most OEM software (both horizontal and vertical downsizing). pic.twitter.com/IznRVHTgPu
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021
While it was skipped from the first Developer Preview, Google is working on redesigning the interface, as rumored earlier. Mishaal could force some changes to the Android 12 UI and activate the unfinished notifications UI and Always-On Display features. The notification UI looks fairly similar to Xiaomi’s custom Android skin, MIUI. It appears to have more empty spaces between active elements in the UI, rendering it a minimal aesthetic.
Alongside the changes above, developer kdrag0n was also able to implement the wallpaper-based theming that was teased in the leaks earlier. These changes, part of the Material NEXT design, are hidden from the current Android 12 build that is publically available. These color-changing abilities of Android 12 have evolved from the RRO functionality that was introduced in Android Lollipop.
The new theming feature also applies to the notifications drop-down on the lock screen. Besides these changes, Android 12 is also likely to bring different styles for lockscreen clock as well as the Always-On-Display.
Once again, these features are not available for users, but their presence in the code suggests Android may be headed towards the next major UI change since Android 9 Pie. We are looking forward to seeing these changes become activated by default in the upcoming Android 12 Developer Preview and beta builds. Still, there is no timeline for this specific feature just yet.
What are your views on the supposed Android 12 UI changes? Let us know in the comments below!