Android 12 vs. Android 11: 3 new things Google’s latest OS can do


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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Android users got a closer look at Google’s newest operating system, Android 12, during Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro launch event. As of Tuesday, the new OS has started to roll out to all Google phones from the Pixel 3 and up, and will be coming to Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus, Xiaomi and other Android devices later this year. 

Android 12, which was first unveiled in February, appears to be similar in many ways to Android 11, with a few big new features and some performance fixes aimed at helping your phone run more smoothly. 

If you don’t own a Pixel and can’t wait for Google’s new OS to make its way to your device, you can download and install the Android 12 developer preview now. But be warned that, as the developer preview, it likely has some bugs, and isn’t meant for the average person to try out at this point — especially not on your primary device.

Here are three of the biggest new features we’ve seen in Android 12 so far, compared to Android 11.


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Our first look at Android 12



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Privacy features for apps

Google is adding several new privacy features to apps to give users more transparency and control. According to the company’s blog post, you can now see what an app is using your microphone or camera through an indicator on your phone’s status bar. You’re also given the option to completely disable any and all apps access to your microphone or camera in Quick Settings. Android 12 also lets you keep your exact location private by giving you an option to give apps your approximate location instead. 

According to a February Android Developers blog post, one Android 12 update gives you more information about how cookies can be used across sites, while another changes how apps export information to prevent them from accidentally exporting activities, services and receivers. 

It’s worth noting that these policies are less strict than those previously seen in Apple’s iOS 14 software releases, which include new app “nutrition labels” that tell people what personal data their apps are collecting, and a change in iOS 14.5 that requires developers to ask people for permission to gather data and track them across apps and websites. 

Revamped notifications

With Android 12, Google is changing up the design of notifications to make them more modern and functional. When you tap on a notification, it will take you directly to the app or action you want to take, instead of going through an intermediary service to start that action. This should make everything run faster, according to the Android Developers blog post.

As previously noted by tech site XDA Developers, Android 12 also gets a new button that lets you snooze unimportant notifications, and choose how long to do so. You can also turn on adaptive notifications ranking to let Android rearrange your notifications based on how you work with different apps, and reset the ranking if you don’t like it.

New one-handed mode

Android 12 appears to include a few design changes that make it easier to operate Android phones with one hand and your thumb. XDA Developers noted that the updated settings UI moves the Search bar to the bottom of the display for easier one-handed access. It also uncovered a new feature called “silky home” that makes the entire interface more suitable for one-handed use. 

For more, check out everything to know about Android 12, and the best Android phones you can buy.



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