Android 12 Beta 1 goes live for Pixel phones at Google I/O 2021
After three Developer Preview builds, Google is finally ready to release the first Android 12 Beta today following an announcement at Google I/O 2021. Everything that we’ve covered in the Developer Preview phase has been polished and refined for the beta release, but that doesn’t mean Google’s work is completely done. Of course, we’ll continue to see small improvements until the arrival of the stable build.
The first Android 12 Beta for supported Pixel devices is available today, along with a number of other goodies. If you have a Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, or Pixel 5 device, you can enroll yourself with Google to get Android 12 Beta updates over-the-air directly to your smartphone. Manual downloads for Pixel and the Android Emulator are also available, in case you want to sideload the latest update. Moreover, developers can now try out the final SDK and NDK APIs before preparing their apps for the next big update.
Download Android 12 Beta 1 for Google Pixel devices
Before we get to the changelog, you can download the Android 12 Beta 1 for supported Google Pixel devices from the following links:
For those who don’t prefer the manual installation route, you can install the Beta build using the Android Flash Tool. The web-based installer comes with a handy GUI-based wizard that greatly simplifies the flashing process.
Changes in Android 12 Beta 1
Google’s press release does not independently list all of the changes introduced in Android 12 Beta 1. Instead, the press release takes a broader overview of the changes that will be seen with the next Android OS version. Keep in mind that we have already had access to Android 12 Developer Preview 1, Preview 2, Preview 3, and recently got an early glimpse of several new design elements. So if you have been following our coverage closely, most of the changes mentioned by Google may not seem new to you.
First of all, there’s a new “color extraction” feature that changes the system’s theme based on your current wallpaper. It uses a clustering algorithm with material color targets to determine dominant and less dominant colors and applies hues that match your wallpaper. This design, along with the rest of the new “Material You” changes, is coming to Google Pixel phones first in the fall.
Then there’s dynamic lighting, a feature wherein your lockscreen expands from darkness based on where you press the power button or unlock the phone. One feature we also spotted is that, on the lock screen, there’s a new button for Quick Wallet Access (Google Pay cards). Furthermore, the Quick Settings space has redesigned to include Google Pay and Home controls.
A new way to launch the Google Assistant has been added. You can now long-press the power button to launch Google Assistant.
Performance has also been improved, with a reduced CPU time of the system server process by 22%.
Then there are the new privacy features. First, a new privacy dashboard to see a timeline of apps using a particular permission has been added. Furthermore, this privacy dashboard also gives easy access to manage that permission. Next, there are now privacy indicators in the top right to see when an app is using the camera or microphone. New Quick Settings toggles to disable camera or microphone access has been added. Finally, all machine learning processing (for features like smart reply, Now Playing, etc.) happens on-device under a new Private Compute Core software partition.
These are only the changes that Google mentions in their announcement, but there are bound to be more changes they haven’t specified. Once we flash the Android 12 Beta 1 release on our own Pixel devices, we’ll be digging into the update to find everything that’s new. Keep an eye out for more Android 12 news!