Android 12 user-facing details formally announced

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Following the usual developer previews over the past few months, Android 12 has now reached public beta stage, available today on Pixels (I'll be using mine as a test vehicle). Android 12 introduces a big redesign, based around "a new way to think about design", called 'Material You', with the star feature being dynamically made themes based on your chosen wallpaper.

Throughout the OS you'll also see a lot of smooth motion and new animations, plus under-the-hood improvements, resulting in a 22% reduction in CPU time needed for core system services.

Android 12's notification shade, quick settings, and power button have been "reimagined" too. The first is "more intuitive and playful", Quick Settings are now fewer and simpler, on the first swipe down at least, and a long press of the power button can now be assigned to Google Assistant, just as with Siri on the iPhone.

Also copying iOS, in Settings you'll find a new Privacy Dashboard that gives you a complete breakdown into your permissions settings on an app by app basis, plus there's a new indicator in the top right of the status bar that lets you know when your apps are accessing your microphone or camera. Android 'Private Compute Core' enables features like Live Caption, Now Playing, and Smart Reply, with all the audio and language processing taking place on the Pixel itself, preserving your privacy.

Populist additions include support for scrolling screenshots, and conversation widgets that bring your favourite people to the home screen.

You can try Android 12 for yourself on supported devices by signing up for the public beta here.