Lost in the buzz of yesterday’s Pixel 6 launch is the fact that Android 12 has shipped for older Pixel phones too. Google took the odd step of releasing Android 12 to Google’s AOSP (Android Open Source Project) repository on October 4, but it didn’t provide finished binaries for Pixel phones, which normally get day one updates. During the launch of Pixel 6, Google’s marketing department finally opened the floodgates with a blog post, a new website, a virtual AR statue, and builds for compatible devices.
Android 12 is officially available for the Pixel 5, 5a, 4, 4a, 3 and 3a. Android 12 is the first major update that the Pixel 2 has missed, although there have been no security updates for a while. You have a few options to get Android 12. The easiest is to wait for the update to reach your device, which will happen sometime in the next month, as it will be rolled out to users automatically. Another option is to go to developer.google.com and download the OTA update for your device. There are also full system images that will erase your existing data. Applying either of the latter two requires some light command line work and utility downloads, and Google has full instructions listed on its site.
Android 12 is one of the biggest Android releases in recent memory and comes with a complete UI refresh called ‘Material You’. Every part of the UI is now color-matched to your wallpaper, and Google is quickly rolling out support for Material You themes to its biggest apps. There are a lot of changes to the system’s notification shade, widgets and user interface, and there are new privacy notifications for continuous use of the microphone or camera. Android 12 brings Android closer to the Linux kernel than ever, with fewer forks and less release lag between Android and Linux. There’s an incremental file system for play-as-you-download games, new emojis, and lots of other stuff.
As always, the Android update treadmill continues. We already have details about a new mid-cycle release of Android, which people have been calling “Android 12.1”. So far, the leaked features seem to focus on tablets and foldable tablets.
Yesterday, a post from Google’s official “android beta program” Reddit account outlined the future of the beta program for enrolled users: “If you don’t take action and keep your Pixel device enrolled in the beta program, you’ll automatically get the next Android version 12 beta.” updates from December.”
We mark our calendars.