While Google typically waits until much later in the spring to officially show off new updates and features, some leaked screenshots may have just given us an early look at changes coming to Android 12.
The leaked screenshots posted by XDA Developers are said to be part of an early draft sent out to developers meant to document and help explain changes coming in the next version of Android. Usually, these drafts contain preview source code and screenshots showing off new features, and while XDA wasn’t able to confirm their authenticity, many of these new features do seem to jive with early expectations for Android 12.
The most obvious change depicted in this screenshots is a new look for Android’s Quick Settings and Notification shade, which in these screenshots features a light beige background (which most likely changes dynamically depending on your background) and more room between icons, bumping the total number of displayed quick settings from six down to four.
But more importantly, if you look in the top right corner, it appears Google has added new privacy indicators designed to more clearly highlight when an app is using your phone’s microphone or camera. Additionally, by tapping on the indicator icon, users will be able to see each individual app that is currently using your phone’s hardware, so there’s no confusion about what software may be compromising your privacy. Apple added similar indicators in iOS 14.
Digital privacy is slated to be a major focus in Android 12, and in addition to these new privacy indicators, the leaked screenshots indicate that Google is overhauling Android Privacy settings menu to include toggles that make it even easier to completely disable individual hardware components like your phone’s mic, cameras, GPS, and other sensors.
And following Apple’s introduction of widgets in iOS 14, it appears that Google is adding a new Conversations widget in Android 12 that will make it easier to keep tabs on things like texts, calls, and more via a simple box on your home screen. It’s possible that the Conversation widget might end up being a mandatory feature in Android 12, as it would help tie in to Google’s People Shortcuts, which should make it faster and easier to share content with others.
At this point, Android is a very mature OS, so while you shouldn’t expect any major overhauls, it’s nice to see Google focus on things like privacy and sharing, which have become increasingly more important topics over the last few years.
Typically, Google I/O is the big public launch for the next major Android beta version. Google canceled last year’s event due to the pandemic, so it remains unclear what the company has in store for later this spring.