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Android is getting its biggest update in years – Here’s what’s coming

We’ve entered that part of the year where Big Tech companies reveal their upcoming products. Apple kicked things off a few weeks ago with iOS news, and Google has now entered the fray with updates on Android.

Unsurprisingly, the highlight of Google’s annual I/O conference was details about the upcoming Android 12. Tap or click here for details on Google’s annual event. Don’t get too excited, though, as the operating system update is only in the beta phase for now.

That doesn’t mean we don’t know what Android 12 entails. On the contrary, Google gave more details about its OS than it ever has before. And it’s the biggest update in years.

Here are the details on Android 12

There is a lot to look forward to when the update rolls out to the wider base of Android users. Which currently sits at more than 2 billion. For now, you can only download the beta model if you have a Google Pixel, OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi or ZTE mobile phones.

RELATED: 6 tips and tricks to make the most out of Android Auto

“Android 12 builds on everything you love about Android, and focuses on building a deeply personal phone that adapts to you, developing an operating system that is secure by default and private by design, and making all your devices work better together,” Google touted.

Here are some of the best new features in the upcoming operating system.

New dashboard and personalization

Google has gone to town in redesigning the dashboard. Starting with Google’s own Pixel devices, Android 12 completely overhauls the look and feel. It features a new color palette and redesigned widgets.

The operating system recognizes the dominant color in your custom wallpaper and applies it across the entire phone’s system. This includes the notification shade, lock screen, volume controls and new widgets.

Google has also made some tweaks to the motion and fluidity of animations and gestures. “For example, when you dismiss your notifications on the lock screen, your clock will appear larger so you know when you’re all caught up,” Google explained in a blog post. The optimization allows Android to squeeze 22% more power out of the CPU.

RELATED: Privacy how-to: Hide notifications on your phone’s lock screen

The system spaces have also been redesigned. Google explained that things like the notification shade, Quick Settings and power button work better now. The Quick Settings have been retooled to include Google Pay and Home Controls.

Privacy dashboard and Android security update

Personal information and private data have been a focal point for many software companies over the last few months. And Google is no exception. Android 12 gives you more transparency in which apps access your data. You can clearly see how it is handled and what they can share.

RELATED: How to scan a QR code on your Android (no apps required)

The new Privacy Dashboard is the one-stop-shop where you can view all this information, making it easier to access. You can revoke an app’s permissions from one location and see how often your data is queried.

Taking security one step further, you can see when your apps are accessing your microphone or camera. The new indicator is in the top right of your status bar and allows you to revoke access for apps to these functions.

Your phone is your new remote – and car keys

Not all the changes are geared towards aesthetics and security. Android 12 also brings with it the ability to control your television.

A remote control is baked into the OS. The on-screen keyboard will also speed up typing when usernames or passwords are required. It will be available later this year and work on more than 80 million Android TV OS devices, including Google TV.

Google has also beefed up Android Auto by partnering with car manufacturers to develop a new digital car key. With this feature, you’ll be able to lock, unlock and even start your car from your phone.

“By using Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology, you won’t even have to take your phone out to use it as a car key. And for NFC-enabled car models, it’s as easy as tapping your phone on the car door to unlock it,” Google explained.

Right now, Google is working with BMW to bring digital keys to its models. The company will support more manufacturers in the future. The feature will first be available on select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones later this year.

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