How a bug in Android 12 beta made me think I was seeing a new behavior with the Notification Shade

Android 12 beta 4 solidified the feature set for the platform, but that doesn't mean bugs won't bite you.

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The Android 12 beta program has been a rousing success for the platform. Not only did it bring to life the new Material You interface, but it's also been as rock solid a beta as I've ever experienced. But make no mistake, it's still a beta release. Nothing is more indicative of that than what I experienced after my Pixel 5 was updated to beta 4.

In the piece that follows below published on Aug. 24, 2021, I outlined what I believed to be a new method of interacting with the Android Notification Shade. This new behavior began when the second beta 4 was installed on my device. It took me a few days to acclimate to the change, but eventually, I started to think, "Yeah, this makes sense."

And then, last night, some eight hours after I'd submitted the post below, the UI on my Android device found itself late for a very important date, donned its Mad Hatter cap and lost its mind–it was as though the UI completely restarted. Once everything had returned to normal, so too had the Notification Shade behavior.

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What I thought was a new "feature," turned out to be a bug–one that I had not seen reported. That's the thing about beta software–it's not ready for the masses, and I get and respect that. But sometimes it's easy to forget something is beta when it runs and behaves so well. Even the behavior I describe below performed with such regularity, it was incredibly easy to be fooled into thinking it was the new world order for the Notification Shade. Lesson learned.

But what was that odd behavior? Read on to find out.

Editor's note: The following post was published on Aug. 24, 2021.

I've been using Android since version 2. That maths out at about 10 years, which means many habits are deeply ingrained. One such habit is interacting with the Notification Shade. For the longest time, that interaction has barely changed, with maybe a tweak here and there, in how you interact with notifications. 

But as you know, Android 12 has brought along with it some major changes to the UI. Thanks to Material You, Android feels like an entirely new beast. It's more polished, more animated, more performant and modern. One change that will trip up several users out of the gate is how you call up the Notification Shade. 

Prior to Android 12, you simply dragged from the top edge of the display to open the Notification Shade. Pull down twice and you can gain access to the Settings button and the Quick Tiles. This is exactly how we've all used the Shade for years. But when I opted into the Android 12 beta, that all changed. Yes, you drag down to open the shade, but there's a subtle difference, and it'll take some time to shake free from the bonds of muscle memory.

Let me explain this new method. Are you ready for it?

How to open the Notification Shade on Android 12

The difference is simple. Instead of dragging down from the top edge of the screen, you need to start the drag just under the time/date/weather widget (Figure A).

Figure A

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The time/date/weather widget is there to serve as a guide for your Notification interaction.

When you correctly open the Shade this way, your notifications will appear exactly as you expect (only with the fresh coat of paint that comes along with Material You: Figure B).

Figure B

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The new Material You notifications of Android 12.

How to access the Settings button and Quick Tiles

To get to the Settings button and Quick Tiles, you could either drag the notification shade down again (with the notifications already open) or you could go back to the old school method and drag down from the very top of the screen. This action will bypass the Notifications and go straight to the Settings/Quick Tiles shade (Figure C).

Figure C

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Gaining access to the Settings and Quick Tile buttons. 

To recap:

  • Drag down once from below the Date/Time/Weather widget to open the Notification Shade.
  • Drag down once from the top to open the Settings/Quick Tiles Shade.

This is not a massive change, but it's one that will trip you up quite often when you first start using Android 12. I'll be honest, this is one of those changes that caught me off guard quite often. I'd pull down from the top to view my notifications, only to have to dismiss the Settings/Quick Tiles and try again. Hopefully, now that you've been warned, you won't suffer the same frustration as did I.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....