Try, try again: Google releases tablet-focused Android 12L beta for select devices | GeekComparison

Promotional image uses cartoonish computer equipment.
enlarge A mockup of Android 12L that runs on different types and sizes of devices.

Google is making another effort to produce a usable Android tablet operating system in the form of Android 12L, which was announced and released in October as a developer preview. And on Thursday, Google released the first beta that will run on real hardware, ahead of a planned final release later this year.

Unfortunately, although Android 12L will running on real hardware, the initial beta support list doesn’t really allow many people to try the new features. It’s available for the Pixel 3a, 4a, 5a, 4, and 5, but “you won’t see the big screen features on smaller screens.” And the only tablet it will run on is the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, a relatively expensive and hard-to-find device. However, you could also roll the dice with the Generic System Image (GSI) for other recent Android tablets. As with the dev build, Google suggests that the best place to try Android 12L’s big screen features is the Android Emulator.

Android 12L and apps optimized for it should take better advantage of large screen devices, be they tablets, foldable phones or laptops. Google has implemented a new interface for split-screen multitasking and has published guidelines for developing multi-column apps that make better use of large screens than the massive amounts of unused white space you currently get when running a phone-sized app on a tablet. the size of a tablet. screen.

It all looks pretty promising, but Google’s loose control over the Android ecosystem and lackluster support for its past tablet efforts have burned users and app developers alike before. As Android Tablets to do succeeding this time, they are likely to capitalize on the success of foldable devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold series or Google’s own rumors of foldable Pixel phones. Wider, multi-column apps and split-screen multitasking will translate well to foldable devices, and it’ll be easier to convince Android app developers to support foldable phones that people actually seem to want than it’s been to give them a tablet. ecosystem that is usually dominated by subpar budget hardware.

ChromeOS devices with Android apps will also benefit from apps that make better use of the larger screen space, although ChromeOS’s multitasking capabilities already extend beyond what Android 12L appears to be capable of.

According to Google’s published timeline, this will be the first of three planned beta releases, and the final version of Android 12L will be released sometime in the spring of 2022.

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