Android 11 is the latest version of Googleâ€™s ubiquitous mobile OS. Although many devices are still running on even older iterations, thereâ€™s already plenty of hype surrounding the forthcoming Android 12. If Android 11â€™s release cycle is anything to go by, Android 12 should see its first Developer Preview land in February. This build should showcase what Google has been working towards in previous months. Until then, we take a look at the rumored Android 12 features that are rumored to arrive soon.
Rumored Android 12 features
Smarter app storage management
Sick of apps occupying storage but donâ€™t necessarily want to uninstall them? App Hibernation could play a pivotal role in how Android 12 manages the footprint of these apps. The featureâ€™s already included in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It will effectively allow the OS to clear an appâ€™s cache if itâ€™s labeled as â€œhibernating.â€�
Related:Â How to free up storage space on Android
Itâ€™s unclear what constitutes a hibernating app, however. We donâ€™t know if that status is determined by the OS or the user. Additionally, we donâ€™t if the feature will sport other storage management tricks like compressing unused apps or clearing the system cache.
It wonâ€™t really be felt by those using phones with heaps of storage. However, it will likely be a huge addition to entry-level Android devices or older phones in line for the OS upgrade.
Android Runtime as a Mainline module
In what could be one of Android 12â€™s biggest new features, Google is planning to turn its Android Runtime (ART) into a Project Mainline module. This would theoretically allow the company to push major updates to ART through the Play Store. That would improve the pace of update delivery, making the process more seamless across manufacturers.
ART is a linchpin in Androidâ€™s daily operations. It translates the OSâ€™s bytecode into a machine language understood by the deviceâ€™s CPU, so itâ€™s integral that ART is kept up to date. Streamlining the updates to it could therefore improve Androidâ€™s performance as a whole.
Manage two apps as a single task
Google hasnâ€™t turned its back on fervent multitaskers in Android 12. Evidence suggests the company is working on a feature called App Pairs. It would allow users to manage two opened applications in Androidâ€™s Recents menu as a single task.
Its name is reminiscent of Samsungâ€™s App Pair feature on One UI. It allows users to simultaneously open two apps onscreen via the Edge panel. Microsoftâ€™s Surface Duo has a similar feature as well, which lets users open the app pair directly from a home screen shortcut. Itâ€™s unclear if Androidâ€™s native solution would include either of these abilities.
However, the feature would be a boon for larger phones, foldables, and tablets. It would simplify toggling between a split-screen and full-screen apps in the Recents menu.
Improved game controller support
Google is looking to improve support for third-party game controllersâ€™ rumble response, according to XDAâ€˜s Mishaal Rahman.
Android currently features an API to manage controllersâ€™ haptic feedback, but it does not give developers access to fine-tune the amplitude of the rumbles. The result? Theyâ€™re unable to create custom patterns varying in strength or pattern â€” an important factor in modern games. Now, it seems that Google is addressing these issues per commits submitted to AOSP.
Read more:Â The best Android phones for gaming
The reviewers on the commits include engineers from Google and Sony. However, itâ€™s likely controllers from Nvidia, Microsoft, and other major players will be supported too. If the improvements do make it to Android 12â€™s final builds, they should massively bolster the platformâ€™s gaming pedigree just in time for the onslaught of game streaming services.
Restricted network mode
A revised networking management mode could arrive on Android 12. It would give the OS more control over which apps can access the internet.
According to XDA, the feature will take the form of a blocklist activated by a setting toggled in the OS. This toggle will likely be accessible by the user, but itâ€™s unclear if the actual blocklist can be user-tweaked. Judging by commits merged to AOSP, the feature will only allow certain apps with the CONNECTIVITY_USE_RESTRICTED_NETWORK permission to utilize the network. All other apps will be barred from communication with the outside world.
Android 11 already features one-time location permissions on a per-app basis. A restricted networking mode would be a valuable addition to improving user privacy. We would love to see a more granular implementation should it arrive in time for Android 12, though.
Scrolling screenshot support
Itâ€™s been a long-running rumor even before Android 10 made its bow. Yet, Android 11 disappointed by not included scrolling screenshot support. Could this be one of Android 12â€™s baked-in features?
In July 2020, Googleâ€™s Dan Saddler confirmed that scrolling screenshot support didnâ€™t quite make the cut for Android 11. This is because the developers intended to build a platform that all apps could utilize. Saddler added that it could feature in a â€œfuture API bumpâ€�. However, thereâ€™s no confirmation that it will debut in time for Android 12.
You can take scrolling screenshots in Android already via third-party apps, but default support would be a welcome addition.
Pixel double-tap actions
When Android 11â€™s Developer Preview arrived, it packed a nifty double-tap feature that could be enabled with some work on the userâ€™s end. It let users of Pixel phones control hardware or launch apps. While it wasnâ€™t an essential control method, it was a useful way to access important features without touching the screen. Unfortunately, it never made it to Android 11â€™s stable build. Now, itâ€™s possible that this feature may make a return in Android 12.
The feature, codenamed Columbus, will let users snag screenshots, open the notification shade, or launch Google Assistant. Google may also allow users to adjust the sensitivity of double-taps or disable them entirely if theyâ€™re not to their liking.
Wi-Fi password sharing via Nearby Share
Nearby Share made its debut in mid-2020, giving Android 11 Apple AirDrop-like functionality. Now, thereâ€™s a chance that the feature could be used to share Wi-Fi passwords with users in the vicinity.
In a commit to AOSP uncovered by XDA, Google could let users share QR codes containing Wi-Fi passwords in the OSâ€™s wireless network settings. This could mean the days of physically typing complex Wi-Fi passwords would soon be over.
More expansive theming support
Android 11â€™s native customization options are pretty limited. Users can only switch between a light and dark mode in the UI. However, this could change according to a new report.
Spotted by 9to5Google, Android 12 may let users select from a swathe of primary and accent colors for custom OS themes. This wonâ€™t just affect the Quick Settings menu and other UI elements. Apps that are built to support it, too.
For those who canâ€™t choose a color, the theming system is also said to adopt the primary colors of the system wallpaper, similar to Windows 10.
Which rumored Android 12 features would you like to see make the cut? Let us know in the comments down below.