Android 12 Developer Preview Three lands today. As usual, Google highlights the developer-facing changes in today's announcement, though it's almost certain there are other user-facing changes and hidden features in DP3 beyond the publicly documented API and permissions tweaks. Importantly, this is also the last major release before Android 12 enters its Beta Program, and changes start to slow down a bit.

Though Google highlights how DP3 affects developers more than anything, there are a few changes it sounds like we'll notice, including a new "app launch experience" that provides automatic splash screens for starting apps. Some of the details, like automatic dark theme support, leaked back in February, and we actually got a glimpse of them in action in a recent leak (pictured below). These new splash screens will use a standardized set of design elements — things like the app's icon and preset transitions — but developers can also further customize it if they choose to, and it's enabled by default, so we should notice it right off the bat.

Image via XDA.

Call notifications for incoming and ongoing calls from some apps may be tweaked in DP3, and there's a new permission for certain types of apps like clocks that should ensure fewer missed alarms. I know I've run into trouble using third-party clocks on certain Android versions, resulting in alarms just not going off, and it sounds like this should fix that — and potentially make a small dent when it comes to specific background app management issues, though that could be wishful thinking.

Google's also hoping to let more apps use your phone's special camera features (things like night mode or portrait mode, etc.) with some tweaks in DP3. Sadly, far too many apps on Android offer a poor camera experience, even though Google has things like Camera2 and CameraX, which allow developers to build richer experiences if they want to. For customers, this change means you can look forward to most apps not supporting all your phone's custom camera effects even though it's even easier to do now. Android 12 itself will also now have APIs to let third-party apps better use the features of high-resolution Quad Bayer camera sensors — most of the crazy-high resolution cameras in smartphones recently are of that type, and they work pretty differently compared to "normal" sensors.

There's plenty more that Google's willing to talk about in DP3 (including a change for "web linking" that sounds curious), but those are the highlights. Almost assuredly there's more hidden inside, based on recent leaks.

Google encourages developers to get their rear in gear when it comes to compatibility testing because the first beta release is just around the corner. Most of our readers can also be excited about that as well; usually, the Android Beta Program releases are a bit more stable, and after using DP1 and DP2 on and off over the last few months, I've run into enough issues to recommend against an early taste.

DP3 is available for all currently supported Pixels — namely, the Pixel 3 series, Pixel 3a series, Pixel 4 series, Pixel 4a series, and Pixel 5. Updates will shortly be delivered in the traditional fashion for those already flashed to the previews, and factory images and sideloadable OTA files will also be available.

For more about Android 12, check out our ongoing series coverage here, or bookmark our regularly updated changelog and check back in later. If you want to install the developer preview on your own device, find out how in our Android 12 download guide.

Anticipate more DP3-related coverage just as soon as we've flashed our Pixels over in 3... 2...