Android 12 is already available as a developer preview, which we've extensively examined. But it's becoming increasingly clear that Google hasn't spilled all the beans yet and might be planning on some more drastic changes than visible in the currently available pre-release build, and it seems like that gut feeling is right. XDA managed to get its hand on an unreleased build of the upcoming OS and gives us an overview of many potentially upcoming features.
The Android 12 version XDA leaked comes from an anonymous source and is quite a bit more unstable than the current official developer preview. It does, however, come with a few revamped features and design tweaks that we expect will trickle down into the next publicly available release.
XDA reports that some already discovered features have been improved. Scrolling screenshots are much better compared to the previous in-development version, with the tool now letting you choose which parts of the screen you want to capture instead of manually scrolling down through your screen. There's also progress on App Pairs, a concept initially introduced by Samsung that lets you open two apps at once with a shortcut. In the leaked release, it's now possible to switch the position of the apps by double-tapping the border between them.
There are also a few new things to look forward to. Google appears to be working on an option to hold the power button to invoke the Assistant, a feature popularized by numerous phone manufacturers. The optional setting would give you yet another way to call the Assistant in addition to swiping sideways from a bottom corner or the homescreen shortcut in the search bar. There's a new quick setting tile for your cards and device controls to keep them easily accessible. Google also appears to be working on a dual panel home screen for tablets, a search bar in the widget picker, and, of course, support for the latest emoji.
XDA uncovered some more significant UI changes in this unreleased version of Android 12. There's a new volume panel that looks similar to the hidden bold brightness slider previously spotted in the OS, with the buttons and the slider matching the current system theme. That same brightness slider has also been revamped just a tiny bit. It also looks like Google wants to introduce automatic splash screens for all apps based on your system theme, which should make for a much smoother experience when opening apps with white splash screens in the middle of the night. Then there are improvements to the new overscroll ripple animation, the drawer opening process, and a charging ripple effect, making for smoother, more playful transitions.
There are also some changes on the privacy front. XDA discovered new clipboard access prompts, warning you when an app is accessing the data or text you copied. Since Android 10, clipboard access is only available for foreground apps, but it's still good to keep those in check. Google is also working on enhanced notification permissions, which would allow you to tweak how much access to notifications a so-called notification listener service has. These are apps like Android Auto that need to relay your notifications to another screen or device. You could presumably allow them to see nothing but either real-time, conversational, default, or silent notifications (or a combination of any of these), if you don't think they need access to everything. A new location permission dialog gives you a better understanding of how well you want an app to be able to track your position — Google has added schematics depicting the approximate or the precise location.
Google is expected to launch the next developer preview of Android 12 later this month, but we're skeptical if Google will enable all of the features XDA found in it already. It's possible the company wants to announce them officially and with much fanfare at this year's Google I/O developer conference, slated for May 18-20. That would also be the date we're expecting the first consumer-facing beta release of Android 12, so it would make sense to leave the biggest interface changes to that version — after all, the developer previews are solely meant for devs wanting to get their applications ready for new capabilities and APIs ahead of release.
For a deep dive into all of the other features already discovered by us, take a look at our Android 12 roundup. And if you'd like to learn more about which devices are expected to get the release and how you can install Android 12 right now, head here.