While there are many things to love about Android 12, we were bummed to find out that the screen-on time stat disappeared in Beta 1, and it hasn't returned in Beta 2 either. We were almost ready to accept that Google decided to scrap this useful statistical insight into our phones' battery lives, but thankfully, it looks like screen-on time is set to return in a future Android 12 update.
Android 12 is in for some huge design changes as part of Google's new design language Material You, and while we like most of them, a few parts just aren't looking too great. The new volume slider originally launched in Beta 1 was certainly included. With a finger-wide width, it looked comically huge. Thankfully, it seems Google agreed this design wasn't meant to last, as slimmer volume controls are now included in Beta 2.
Google finally jumped on the wireless earbuds bandwagon last year with the Pixel Buds. While they got things like comfort and sound quality right, they didn't do well in terms of connectivity and battery. While Google isn't completely changing either of those things, it's making it easier in Android 12 to know when your buds will run out of charge.
Android 12 is set to be one of the biggest updates to the platform in memory — if not on a pure feature basis (though it probably is), then definitely when it comes to the overall look and interface. While I would argue that Android has hardly stagnated as much as iOS in that sense, it has become very familiar. But, as the old saying goes, "familiarity breeds contempt," and last year, many of our readers were upset to see Android 11 refrain from big visual changes. Well, you got what you asked for, and I hope you like it. For the record, I do.
Gaming phones have been a thing for a while — check out the ROG Phone 5 for the best example of what they can do — but Google hasn't really contributed in this area up to now. However, with Android 12, it's shipping a gaming mode that should improve the experience on non-gaming phones.
Last year, Google rolled out a permissions exemption for contact-tracing apps that allowed them to scan for Bluetooth devices (you know, to keep track of people you may have been too close to during peak Covid) without needing to call the full location permission to do that, as they had to before. Now that change is rolling out even more widely. Android 12 Beta 1 has a new permission just for Bluetooth scanning.
The first Android 12 beta just launched yesterday, and it brought a whole slew of design and animation changes with it. But Google is also working on reducing CPU and GPU usage and cleaning up transitions between apps and notifications. As part of that effort, the company is making audio transitions less jarring when you switch from app to app.
In addition to the big user-facing redesign that started landing in Beta 1, a handful of smaller visual tweaks are also included in this new, ostensibly slightly more stable release, including this: A new charging animation. It's there for both wired and wireless charging (though slightly different between each), and follows your system accent color.
The first Android 12 beta just landed shortly after the I/O keynote, and it has the huge rumored redesign in tow. While the most obvious changes are easy to spot, a few things are harder to see when you just have Google's press images to work with. One of these places would be your device lock screen's PIN or pattern entry field.
We're still digging through changes in Android 12's brand-new Beta 1 release, but we've already spotted a minor tweak to a change that has been teased a few times in prior previews. Beta 1 has a new, slightly sparkly ripple animation when you tap on stuff.