Android 12 'Snow Cone' beta unveiled at Google I/O

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Android 12 'Snow Cone' beta unveiled at Google I/O

Big redesign with new user interface.

Google has made available at its I/O conference the first public beta of Android 12, codenamed 'Snow Cone', featuring what the tech giant says is the biggest design change in the mobile operating system's history.

Users will be able to completely customise their user interfaces with Android 12, Google said.

New widgets, redesigned notifications, and smoother animations through performance improvements to reduce processor usage by system software are key features of the Android 12 user interface changes.

A new standard named performance class by Google lets developers target fast devices for demanding use cases, going beyond baseline Android requirements.

These include reducing camera startup times, codec availability and quality, minimum memory size, screen resolution and read/write performance, for media use.

Google is also tightening up privacy controls and settings in Android 12, providing more transparency for users along with data security.

Among the new controls are a privacy dashboard, and microphone and camera indicators similar to what Apple introduced earlier in its iOS mobile operating system.

An app hibernation feature restricts what unused and forgotten programs can do and the user data they can access, and also force-stops them to reclaim memory, storage space and other resouces.

In Android 12, users can also select if they want to provide an approximate or precise location an app might request, for added safety.

Android developers can look forward to modernised enviroments, featuring the Jetpack Compose user interface toolkit that was announced two years ago, and the hardware, software and materials unified design kit, Material You

Material You is aimed at devices with larger and foldable screens in particular, Google said.

A new integrated development environment, the Android Studio Arctic Fox beta, was also released by Google.

The Java interoperable Kotlin development coding language has been updated, with a new native annotation processing solution and a faster application programming interface for direct code parsing for speedier library handling.

Users are able try out the Android 12 beta on select devices from ASUS, Oppo, Xiaomi and ZTE and other vendors, as well as on Google's Pixel devices.

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