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Google has unveiled Android 12L: What is it?

Wait, what? Android 12 came out last week, and just about everyone who’s even remotely immersed in the subject of updates knows that. Tonight, however, Google quite unexpectedly decided on another release called Android 12L. It’s clear from the name that this is the same operating system, but with some addition or change from the original.

Because usually indices are added to the original brand for a reason. Moreover, this is not the first time this has happened. A few years ago, Google already released Android Go, a stripped-down version of Android. However, it has nothing to do with Android 12L.

Android 12L is a special modification of Google’s original operating system for larger devices. At least three types of gadgets will be on the master list: foldable smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks. That is, the qualifying factor is not the size of the device per se, but its display.

Google doesn’t publish clear diagonal requirements, most likely because you can’t install Android 12L on a regular smartphone regardless of screen size. However, there will clearly be such requirements, as the foldable design doesn’t mean anything yet.

Android 12L – the differences

Even though Android 12L is based on the same Android, the two versions of the OS differ quite a bit in terms of interface design. Whereas the original Android is aimed at devices with elongated screens, the L-modification is clearly aimed at devices with more or fewer square displays, such as those with a 4:3 ratio. Despite this, according to the contents of the OS developer test build code, Android 12L is also compatible with regular smartphones. At least with the Google Pixel, that’s for sure.

Android 12L Interface
This is how the Android 12L control centre looks like.

The focus on larger screens is evident in everything. First and foremost the size of the interface elements. They have become noticeably larger than in conventional Android. Pay attention to the controls. There are no more small buttons, so it’s much more comfortable to press them than before.

Speaking of which, on iPadOS, which I’ve been using since its release, this isn’t how it works. The controls for the iPad seem to have been plucked from iOS, and in the original dimensions. This makes the size of the buttons for activating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc look disproportionate to the tablet’s large screen. On the other hand, the bottom dock in Android 12L is exactly the same as in iPadOS.

In Android 12L, not only the visual elements have changed, but also the layout of the interface. The screen is now split in two, with one block of information on each part. For example, if you open the control panel, on the left side there are functional buttons and settings, and on the right side, there are notifications that you can interact with without leaving this screen.

This is very convenient because the display space is used more efficiently. However, the separation does not always happen, but rather situationally. In the application menu, for example, icons take up the whole screen.

Multitasking on Android

Android 12L Screenshots
Android 12L is mainly for foldable smartphones, but other devices will support this OS.

Multitasking is especially handy when you’re multitasking. Android 12L allows you to run any app in Split Screen mode, regardless of whether it supports it or not. If they support it, their interface adapts to the size of the part of the screen allocated to them, and if they don’t, they simply shrink dimensionally. Despite the apparent mootness of this solution, in fact, it all looks quite good. Apparently, the large display, for which this operating system was designed, has an impact.

Android 12L is essentially a dual operating system. It includes elements of both a traditional OS and a tablet OS. It’s made specifically for foldable smartphones that have an external display so that they can be used in the folded state. Android 12L automatically recognises in which format the device is being used and adjusts the interface to match it. The result is a completely seamless switching experience with very intelligently adjusted visuals.

Android 12L will be released early next year. That’s what Google said, without specifying a date or even a month. So theoretically, we could wait for the operating system all the way to spring, if not a little longer. Most likely, this uncertainty is due to the fact that Google doesn’t have its own devices on which to roll out the update.

Therefore, it has a lot of work to do to adapt Android 12L for third-party devices, assisting them in the proper use of the OS.

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