The release of a new operating system is a big deal for mobile developers. This plays a big part in their competition against each other as each tries to retain their users while enticing others to hop the fence.
Android 12 launched last month for Google Pixel phones, while Samsung, Xiaomi OnePlus and other phones that run Android will get the update in the coming months.
Google’s latest mobile OS aims to streamline your smartphone experience with new shortcuts, icons and greater personalization. We’ve rounded up some highlights for you to check out below.
1. Camera/mic indicators
How can you tell when an app is using your microphone or camera? Android 12 introduced a new indicator in your phone’s status bar to make things clear. Just look at the top of your screen to see if your camera or microphone (or both) are being accessed. This useful feature was introduced to iPhones with iOS 14.
Swipe down from the top of the screen to access quick settings (more on that below) and you can disable one or both sensors.
Related: Dangerous apps can ruin your phone. Here’s how to protect yourself from malware and other junk.
2. Quick Tap
Think of an app or action that you constantly use. Wouldn’t it be great to access it any time, no matter what else you were doing? The new Quick Tap feature lets you create shortcuts using double taps on the back of your phone. Here’s how to set it up:
- Open Settings and go to System.
- Tap Gestures then select Quick Tap.
- Toggle on Quick Tap and select from the list of actions. You can use taps to open Google Assistant, play or pause music, open specific apps, show notifications or take a screenshot.
3. Snooze notifications
Snooze alarms are great for catching some extra sleep without completely ruining your morning and now this extends to your phone notifications. Android 12 introduced snooze notifications that let you get rid of notifications temporarily so you can come back to them later.
Unlike Do Not Disturb mode, this feature lets you pick and choose which notifications to delay. Here’s how to do it:
- Swipe your Notification Shade and find the notification you want to snooze.
- Tap the downward facing arrow to expand the panel.
- Tap the alarm clock and select how long you want to snooze the notification.
- Tap Undo to turn notifications back on.
4. Quick settings
Many of the new features introduced with Android 12 can be found in quick settings. From here you can access settings such as airplane mode, Bluetooth, nightlight, alarm, focus mode, flashlight, location, camera and mic access and more.
You’ll want to customize the panel to include the settings you use most. Here’s how:
- Swipe down twice from the top of your phone screen to access the panel.
- Tap on the pencil icon to expand the list of quick settings.
- Tap and hold on icons to drag them into the order you want. Move them all the way down to remove them from the list.
5. Widget improvements
Widgets bring the content and actions you want to your home screen for easy access. With Android 12, you can shrink down widgets or enlarge them to get more functions out of them. Here are some new widget options:
- The new Google Maps widget makes it easy to search for nearby locations such as gas stations or restaurants.
- Google Keep widgets bring your to-do lists to the forefront.
- The Google Photos Memories widget lets you display your favorite photos in unique shapes.
- The Google Drive widget makes it easier to upload and search for files.
- The YouTube Music widget puts play controls on your home screen.
- The Google Fi widget helps you track your data usage.
- Choose from four analog clock faces for your Home screen with the new clock widgets.
6. One-handed mode
Phones are getting larger and you don’t always have two free hands to use yours. The new one-handed mode lets you control your Android phone more easily with your one free appendage.
There are multiple ways to use Android’s one-handed mode:
- First turn on the feature by going to Settings > System > Gestures.
- Toggle on One-handed mode.
- Now choose between Pull Screen Into Reach or Show Notifications.
- You can also enable the one-handed mode shortcut, which adds a button to the bottom-right of your screen.
7. Android TV remote
Sometimes you just can’t find the TV remote. Since you’re more likely to misplace that over your expensive smartphone, why not use your phone to control the TV? This existed for Android phones with the Google TV app, but now it’s built right into the Google Home Android app. This lets you control your Android TV and Google TV.
Here’s how to get your new remote:
- Open the Google Home app for your TV and tap Open remote in the bottom-left corner.
- Follow the instructions to pair your new remote with your TV.
To use it, head to the page in the Google Home app for the device you want to control, and then tap Open remote in the bottom left corner of the page.
Your Android phone can also serve as a webcam. Tap or click here for setup instructions.