First preview of Android 12 is now available

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Google has made the first preview of Android 12 available. The new version offers more privacy features and improved support for modern video and photo formats.

The tech giant discusses the new Android version in a blog post. In it, the company mainly focuses on the new privacy features in Android 12. In practice, users will not notice much of this, but for developers, it is important to be aware of these new changes.

HEVC and AVIF

What users will notice is the improved support for HEVC videos. More and more cameras are using this video format because of its more efficient compression techniques than older formats. Unfortunately, not all apps support this new video format yet, so Google is coming up with a feature to transcode such videos. App developers can use the option to automatically convert imported HEVC videos to a format that the app can handle.

In addition to improved support for HEVC videos, Google has also worked on supporting the AV1 image format (AVIF). This format, which is supported by default with Android 12, offers much more efficient compression than the widely used jpeg standard. As an example, Google shows two photos below, the left one compressed to 18.2kB with AVIF and the right one to 20.7kB with JPEG:

Notifications and services

Google also writes about a modified user interface for notifications. The company says that the design will have a more modern look, but doesn’t give any details. Google also claims that transitions and animations will look smoother and it will introduce measures to make apps load faster when a notification is clicked.

Android 12 also changes the way the operating system handles foreground services. From now on, Android will prevent such services from being started in the background. As an alternative, the operating system will get more options to handle processes in the background, independent of battery management limitations, for example. Also, notifications for foreground services will only be shown after 10 seconds so that users are not distracted by short processes.

Availability

The preview of Android 12 is now available for download on Pixel phones. However, this preview version is mainly intended to give developers a chance to test their apps on the new system. The final version of the operating system will probably not be available to consumers until the summer. It will then be months before most smartphone manufacturers make the update available for their devices in many cases.

Tip: Google has released the third and final beta of Android 11