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Five things we’re looking forward to in Android 12

Originally posted on androidpolice.

We’re anxiously awaiting Google’s first Android 12 preview release, which we expect may land in the next month or so. But even though we haven’t seen it yet, plenty of details regarding the new release are public, between leaks and Google’s own public plans. Right now, there are five big features we’re looking forward to — assuming Google doesn’t push any of them back (again).

Privacy indicators

Early leaks indicate that Android 12 will finally debut a feature that’s been in development for years. Privacy indicators, much like those that debuted in iOS 14, are coming to Android. A set of colored icons and dots will indicate when and if apps are using your microphone or camera, so you can be aware of when the software on your phone might be violating your privacy.

It’s a good step by itself, and furthermore, Google’s version looks set to be better than Apples, making it easy to see which apps are accessing them both as it happens and after the fact without having to dig through piles of settings menus.

 

It remains to be seen how Google will treat system-level access compared to third-party apps — you can have the Google Assistant set to always listen for the hotword, for example — but it’s a step in the right direction for user privacy, and one we’ve been anticipating since Google started working on it two years ago in Android 10.

Better theming

We’ve also known for a while that Android 12 is set to expand theming options. Although Android has some system-level support for theming — which Pixel owners should recognize since Android 10 — Android 12 is set to open that up quite a lot.

Left: Normal Android 11 dark theme. Right: A mockup of what expanded color options could look like. Both images via 9to5Google

Details are sparse, but we expect Android 12 may allow theming via a defined primary color and accent color — presumably user-selected in some way, potentially with a number of presets. But even better, Android 12 will also pass that color data to third-party apps, allowing them to pick up on these cues as well. If the slow rollout of system-level dark theme support is any indicator, this may not make a difference for years, and plenty of apps will never implement it, but it could be nice for those that do.

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