Credit: Thinkstock

Android just got a whole lot better with its latest update.

Google has released the developer preview of Android 12, its latest version of its Android Operating System (OS). It features a number of updates to security, image format support and improvements to enhance user experience, to name a few.

Let’s start with security. Android 12’s WebView will include new SameSite cookie behaviours similar to Google Chrome and other browsers. This will provide additional security and privacy by giving users more transparency and control over how cookies are used on websites. Android 12 will also limit access to device identifiers through a restricted Netlink Media Access Control Address. The update will also make some adjustments to the OS’s intent handling in an attempt to stop misconfigured apps from making vulnerabilities in your phone’s security.

An AVIF Image (top) measuring at 18.2 kb and a .jpeg image (bottom) at 20.7 kb
Credit: Jake Archibald

The new version of Android will have compatible media transcoding that allows apps that don’t support the HEVC video format to view them by automatically transcoding HEVC files into the AVC video format. The update will also support the AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) which will significantly improve image quality while keeping the file size almost the same. The update will also introduce a new unified Application Programming Interface (API) to simplify image sending to apps from the clipboard, keyboard, or the drag and drop function.

There’s now a simplified immersive mode that makes gesture navigation easier and more consistent when a user is watching a video or playing a game. If you’re playing a game in fullscreen, you won’t have to worry about accidental gestures closing your game, but users will be able to navigate their phone with a single swipe for other fullscreen apps targeting the new platform.

Android 12 will also allow users to quickly open an app when a notification from that app is tapped without going through a “trampoline” to start it. Trampolines are an intermediary broadcast receiver or service that can cause delays; the update is programmed to block these trampolines for quicker responses.


Only developers can use Android 12 through a Google Pixel smartphone
Credit: Google

Android 12 will also be optimised for tablets, foldable devices, and TVs.

Developers who want to personally experience what the update has in store and test their apps will have to use the Android Flash Tool to flash an image to their Google Pixel device or download an Android 12 system image from the Pixel downloads page. Developers who don’t have a Google Pixel device can also use the 64-bit system images with the Android Emulator in Android Studio.

Keep in mind that Google stated that the current Android 12 preview is for developers only. There will be a public beta test as the release date nears, which is most likely after August 2021.


Written by John Paul Joaquin