Android 12 shouldn’t be even out but, however we already want to speak about Android 12.1, a rumored level launch that will presumably arrive shortly after Android 12 and the Pixel 6 hit the market. The current thinking is that Google is engaged on a pair of Samsung-style foldable Pixel telephones, which might ship with a smaller Android launch. These are anticipated to return out—perhaps—earlier than the top of the 12 months, growth time and chip shortages permitting.
There’s nothing official concerning the title “Android 12.1,” however the puzzle items right here aren’t onerous to suit collectively. Each Android launch will get an API degree for app builders. Not like the marketing-controlled model quantity, the API degree is designed to be predictable and goes up “1” for every new platform launch, whatever the measurement of every launch. Android 12 is “API degree 31,” however Android 13—due out this time subsequent 12 months—was recently bumped to API degree 33 within the public Android repository. Google made an area in between Android 12 and 13 for a brand new launch. Everyone seems to be unofficially calling that launch “Android 12.1,” following the upkeep launch naming conventions Google final used with Android 8.1, which was launched in December 2017.
So what’s in Android 12.1? Foldables stuff. XDA Developers’ Mishaal Rahman has a hands-on with some early code, detailing a ton of pill and foldable-centric options. We need to stress the “early” a part of that “early code” description, as a result of all the things appears horrible, however we’re right here for performance, not design, proper now.
Like the great (and quickly abandoned) Android pill interfaces of yore, Android 12.1 sees Google return to dual-pane layouts for numerous bits of the OS interface. The settings display screen is again to a dual-pane configuration, which has the top-level settings listing on the left and every particular person web page of settings on the proper. The notification panel takes an identical strategy, with the fast settings on the left and the conventional listing of notifications on the proper.
All of those dual-pane interfaces use a 50/50 cut up which could be very completely different from how Google used to do issues. Google’s first swing at an even bigger Android interface was in Android 3.0 Honeycomb, and that was designed for widescreen tablets. Honeycomb had one thing near a 33/66 cut up for app layouts, normally a slimmer navigation panel on the left and a bigger content material space on the proper. This new design emulates the format split-screen mode for apps, with a right-down-the-middle 50/50 cut up. Each screenshot is simply two cellphone interfaces subsequent to one another.
XDA’s instance screenshots use a Galaxy Fold 3 facet ratio, which is presently our greatest guess for what a Pixel foldable will appear like. The factor is, the Fold appears method too broad for the design that is occurring right here. If Google is utilizing two side-by-side cellphone interfaces, it certain looks like the proper facet ratio for that will be double the width of a traditional cellphone. The Fold 3 is wider than that, which brings up the usual Android difficulty of it wanting ugly on broad units.
This 50/50 design has the good thing about maintaining content material out of the hinge space, which normally has a trench or bump in it that may interrupt your swiping finger. That format is simply extraordinarily limiting on how broad you may make a tool, for the reason that wider it will get, the uglier Android appears.
Google’s leaked dock interface is right here, too. The screenshots all have a pinned black bar on the backside of the display screen, making for a hybrid of the iPad’s new dock UI and the outdated Honeycomb bar. After all, all the things might change finally, however for now, the icons on the backside simply appear to be your current apps. With the ability to pin apps to this bar can be good, too. The dock, assuming it does not auto-hide, will minimize into the vertical real-estate apps have entry to. Vertical house is presently a big problem for apps on foldables, particularly while you aren’t in side-by-side app mode.
Current apps can also be getting some work finished. In addition to the same old scrolling listing of thumbnails, one row excessive, there may be now a mode the place thumbnails might be two rows excessive, letting you see multiple app. The screenshot truly reveals one massive app after which two rows of smaller apps.
Extra work can also be occurring round app pairs (shortcuts that launch two apps on the identical time) and the split-screen app mode, which now has a brand new divider. Once more, all the things could be very early and ugly, however Google appears prefer it needs to copy curved show edges on the dock and the split-screen app bar. Like with the 50/50 app cut up, this can be a design that might look good on a really particular cellphone design with equally rounded corners. However for Android, which has to reside on 1,000,000 completely different units, this design appears oddly restrictive.
Once more, we’ve got to emphasize that is very early stuff, and we have not even seen the Android 12 launch but. Google has just a few months nonetheless to determine all the things out and make it look good.
Itemizing picture by Ron Amadeo