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What is Android 12L? Big changes for tablets and foldables revealed

Google has announced a new version of Android 12. The forthcoming Android 12L update is designed to be better suited to larger displays like tablets and foldables.

Hot on the heels of the Android 12 release for Pixel devices last week, Google is describing Android 12L as a new set of features optimised for bigger screens.

It comes hot on the heels of rumours of an Android 12.1 update and is sure to fuel more speculation about a Pixel Fold. Here’s what Google is promising when Android 12L comes early next year.

Android 12L notifications shade

The revised OS will take advantage of the additional real estate with a two-column notifications screen (see above) that separates out the quick settings. The Lock Screen adopts a similar UI shift.

Google says the differing designs, revealed at the ongoing Android Developers Summit 2021, will automatically kick in when running on a device with a display that’s greater than 600dp wide.

“In 12L we’ve refined the UI to make Android more beautiful and easier to use on screens larger than 600dp — across notifications, quick settings, lockscreen, overview, home screen, and more,” Google says on the Android 12L developer page.

Android 12L multitasking

Elsewhere, Google is also revealing a feature that’ll make it easier to open apps in dual-screen mode. The new multitasking feature comes courtesy of a Windows-like taskbar at the foot of the display, enabling users to just drag a second app into the fray. Within Android 12L all apps will be available in dual-screen mode.

Google adds: “Running apps in split-screen mode is a popular way of multitasking, and in 12L we’ve made split screen easier than ever to discover and use. Users can now drag and drop their favourite apps into split screen directly from the taskbar, or they can also use a new “Split” action in the overview to start split-screen mode with a tap.”

Android 12L multitasking

Android 12L compatibility experience

The company is also promising an improved compatibility experience that’ll ensure portrait apps look a little nicer on those wider foldable displays. You can see the slightly curved edges in letterbox mode below, for example.

Android 12L compatibility mode

Android 12L release date

Android 12L is scheduled for release in early 2022, but it’s already available as an emulator to developers, enabling app makers to get their wares ready.

The company also confirmed the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be in line for the update (via 9to5Google). Google also says the idea is to have Android 12L ready for the “next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables.” Could a Pixel Fold be among them?

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