Android 12 Developer Preview 2 is here, giving us our second glimpse at the in-development state for the next version of Android. As you should expect, Google's announcement only highlights a handful of developer-facing changes with this latest release, but we're sure there are plenty of other exciting tidbits hidden inside — especially given the sheer volume of features spotted in-development with DP1. While we all wait for our phones to update, let's dig through the changes Google is willing to talk about.
There are a lot of new features and APIs in DP2 that target developers, but a few individual changes could have a bigger impact, and some were previously spotted in development in DP1:
- Brand new API for rounded corners: These days, phones curve the edges of their screens to better fit snugly against the curved corners of the body itself, reducing bezels and providing a subjectively "cleaner" look. Because the size of those curves can and do vary, Google is rolling out a new API that apps can query to figure out exactly how those corners are curved and better adapt content to suit it. For us, that means content will better fit on phones with rounded corners.
Not just round, round in a defined way that apps on Android 12 can process and accommodate.
- New app overlay controls: Developers making apps for Android 12 can declare that certain content can't be drawn over. This can enhance security and further mitigate overlay attacks.
- Picture-in-Picture improvements
- DP2 sports a more seamless transition for PiP windows spawned during the home gesture in gesture navigation.
- Picture-in-Picture "stashing," spotted in-development in DP1, now works in DP2, letting you hide those windows slightly off-screen when you need to see your apps.
- Single-tap displays PiP controls, double-tap toggles PiP window size.
- Seamless PiP resize: Apps can tell the system that their PiP mode content can be dynamically adjusted when necessary.
- More lock screen security options: It isn't clear how much this change will rely on developers, but Android 12 will add more granularity to lock screen interactions. For example, seeing notifications without authentication but being restricted from notification button interaction until you pass your keyguard, etc.
- Fitness tracker improvements: Apps that manage fitness trackers or other connected devices can tell the system to wake them when that hardware is connected, and they'll stay awake while those devices are nearby.
Google's announcement is a bit lighter on details this time around than Developer Preview One was, but most of the best changes slide in separately from Google's acknowledgment anyway. There are also a ton of other explicitly developer-facing changes which should make their lives easier, but which end-users like you and me probably won't notice, including a new and simpler way to do graphic effects, bandwidth estimation for connection types, and cross-app validity checksums.
For those keeping track at home, this is the second expected Developer Preview out of three before we switch to slightly more stable betas and the Android Beta Program kicks into gear. That means there are only two ways to get DP2: Flash it yourself or wait for the traditional OTA update on a phone already running DP1/1.1. As before, Android 12 DP2 is only available for the Pixel 3 series, Pixel 3a series, Pixel 4 series, Pixel 4a series, and Pixel 5, as well as the Android Emulator and ADT-3 Android TV dev kit.
Later this year, in May, Google will make it easier for enthusiasts to get an early taste of Android 12 when the Beta Program opens. But in the meantime, these releases are primarily for developers, particularly intrepid testers willing to submit feedback, and Android 12 bloggers (yo), so we encourage most of our readers to hold off for now.
If you're among those already playing with Android 12, an OTA for Developer Preview 2 should be rolling out soon, and look forward to our more extensive feature-level coverage as we spot new changes in this latest release.