Five months after the announcement and the start of beta testing of Android 12L – a feature drop to Android 12 that aims to optimize the experience on tablets and foldable devices – an official release is underway that will target Pixel devices first. The update also got an official rename as Android version 12.1 and promises features that will make tablets and foldables simpler and easier to use.
An optimized screen layout
The flagship feature of Android 12L has always been the way it is optimized for larger screens. It features a two-column layout in settings screens that will allow you to navigate between sections without having to go in and out. This same layout is also present in the home screen, lock screen, and notification shade where it separates notifications from quick tiles, giving you a dedicated column to triage and clear them.
Android 12L implements a taskbar that allows you to multitask using drag-and-drop to load an app on either side in split-screen mode. Chrome OS tablet users will be very familiar with this setup as it works essentially in the same manner.
This official launch will roll out to Pixel devices first alongside the March 2022 Pixel Feature Drop, and then later this year Google promises to bring 12L to Samsung, Lenovo, and Microsoft devices as well. For those wondering, the Pixel devices that are supported right now are the following:
- Pixel 3a and 3a XL
- Pixel 4 and 4 XL
- Pixel 4a and 4a (5G)
- Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a
- Pixel 6 and 6 Pro (coming soon)
Here at Chrome Unboxed, we have speculated quite a bit on how Android 12L features could make their way into Chrome OS and vice-versa, creating more synergy between Android and Chromebooks as well as addressing some of the issues we have now with Chrome OS tablet mode. Only time will tell in this case, but we will keep our eyes open to any crossover of features and report back if/when we find them.