Android 10 was released on September 3, 2019 and Android 11 came out on September 8, 2020. So where is this year’s Android 12 release?
Instead of the latest release of Android 12 this month, Google pushed Android 12 Beta 5 and said the final release was “weeks” away. A new report from Mishaal Rahman of XDA Developers claims to narrow things down a bit, saying Monday, October 4 is the magic date.
XDA says it has an internal Google doc detailing the “provisional” release date for Android 12. The doc actually only mentions when the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source code will be released, but the developer source code release and the consumer Pixel release are usually on the same day.
The stable Android 12 update may be released on October 4, as Google plans to release it for AOSP by then. This tentative release date was also mentioned by a 3PL. pic.twitter.com/PMN802gQj0
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) September 12, 2021
The document looks like it’s aimed at third-party device manufacturers interested in licensing Google’s Android apps and lists a bunch of dates for the operating system’s support timeline. The core of Android is, of course, open source, and anyone can do whatever they want with the source code, but if you want Google’s approval and the chance to license apps like the Play Store and Gmail, you have to follow the rules. To encourage OEMs to ship newer versions of Android on new devices, Google will stop approving GMS (Google Mobile Services, aka all Google apps) licenses for new devices around two years. The document also mentions when Google will stop supporting the Android 12 codebase and “ACK”, or the “Android Common Kernel” (the Linux kernel with Android patches), with security patches, which is 3.5 years after the release. (Note that well-supported devices will simply move to a newer Android version after the first year.)
The later release is understandable, as Google has a lot to take care of this year. Android 12 is one of the biggest Android releases ever, with an all-new ‘Material You’ UI for Pixel phones and including a wild automatic color theme system. Devices will finally start sending Android’s “GKI” or “Generic Kernel Image”, which will help unify the Android Linux kernel across devices and possibly even allow some devices to send kernel updates through the Play Store. There’s an incremental file system for play-as-you-download games, a new privacy dashboard, performance optimizations, and a million other changes.
Some of these new features won’t be fully shown to users until the Pixel 6 launches (when it is), but the first big chunk, Android 12, is only a few weeks away.