Google announced on Wednesday the first beta release of Android 12L, the next feature drop for the recently released Android 12 operating system. Aimed primarily at tablets and larger-screened devices, Android 12L will focus on changing the Android experience from the much-critiqued blown-up-phone look to a discrete experience that takes the larger canvas of tablets into account.
Today’s beta release includes the refreshed interface for larger screens, including a column view for the notification shade and lock screen. A new multitasking dock is being introduced to allow faster access to split-screen and drag-and-drop, and Google’s now done work to allow every Android 12 app to work with split-screen mode regardless of whether developers have built for it.
Unlike iOS, the Android experience on tablets and larger-screened devices has been abysmal. It’s a little understandable when one considers that Google shifted its tablet focus from Android to Chrome OS a few years ago. While Chrome OS currently has a decent tablet experience, one that the current Android 12L seems to want to replicate when looking at the dock and split-screen multitasking, the app experience for both has remained lacking.
With Android 12L, the company wants to encourage developers to think more carefully about building tablet and large-screened apps for Android. That’s a tall order, as one notes, the only tablet hardware available for Android 12L is the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro. You won’t be able to get today’s update on it either just yet. Right now, the Android 12L Developer Preview 1 build is available for that tablet, with the beta update coming later.
Android 12L will hit regular phones, too, though expect more subtle changes than with tablets. The folks over at Esper have done a deep dive into everything that Google’s added into the first developer build of the update. In the meantime, Android 12L’s beta is available now for all 10 currently supported Google Pixels: The Pixel 3a, 3a XL, 4, 4XL, 4a, 4a, 5G, 5, 5a 5G, 6, and 6 Pro.