Today the third beta release of Android 12 was made available for supported devices (read: Pixel phones). I’ve been using the beta (on a Pixel 4) since the first release, and I can honestly say this is the finest iteration of Android since I started using the platform (way back with version 2.1). This beta is the final release before the Platform Stability milestone (when all features and behaviors are finalized), which means it is the ideal time for developers to start testing their apps on Android 12.
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Along with the usual bug fixes for the release, there are three new features/improvements coming to the platform. And although these new features aren’t nearly as exciting as what we’ve seen so far, there is at least one that users have been asking about for a while.
If you’re curious about joining the Android 12 beta program, make sure to read How to get the Android 12 beta.
Let’s take a look at the three new features/improvements and see if there’s one that might have you itching to jump on the beta bandwagon.
The announcement of this feature, named AppSearch, is mostly geared toward developers. However, once On-device search is implemented, it will benefit end-users. What this feature does is enable apps to easily and securely search both in-app data and data stored across the device. The trick here is how Google will ensure this type of search is handled with a level of security that will prevent malicious apps from making use of the feature. At the moment, there are no details on how Google plans on implementing this search feature, but if apps are able to (securely) search across the entire device, it could certainly make it possible for app developers to expand the features of their offerings.
Faster display auto-rotation
Upon first reading of this particular improvement, I was under the assumption it was all about regular screen rotation, which surprised me because Android 12 beta 2 was already fast and smooth. But this isn’t about regular app auto-rotation. Instead, this rotation improvement is all about the front-facing camera. The Android camera app has always been a bit sluggish in recognizing when the device screen needed to rotate when using the “selfie” camera. With the release of the third beta, that action has not only been sped up, but the system will also be able to more accurately recognize when the display needs to rotate. That means you’ll struggle less with trying to get your phone to rotate in the proper orientation. This has been a point of frustration for some time, so hopefully, this will bring a bit of relief to anyone who uses that front-facing camera for selfies or video chats.
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This is probably the one screenshot feature users have been asking for the longest. Up until now, Android screenshots could only pick up what was visible on the screen. That means if there’s app content beyond the display, it wouldn’t be included in the shot. With the third Android beta, that problem is no more. When a screenshot is taken in Android 12, it will be able to fully capture all app content, so screenshots will finally be scrollable. Even better, this new feature will work with most apps without requiring developers to make any significant changes.
The new feature list is pretty small for the third beta of Android 12. That doesn’t mean there won’t be significant bug fixes and performance enhancements. But given how many new and exciting features have already found their way into Android 12, it should come as no surprise that this entry is dropped with the least amount of fanfare.
Even still, Android 12 is looking to be the greatest entry in the platform timeline. If you have a spare Pixel device lying around, I highly recommend you joining in on the Android 12 beta fun. You will be impressed.