Android 12L Beta 1 Features: What’s new for tablets and foldables

Google’s forthcoming Android 12L update, designed to improve the experience on tablets and foldables, has taken its first step towards a public launch.

The first Android 12L beta has been released today, but it’s not much use at present. It’s only officially available on Pixel phones; none of which offer tablet-sized or foldable displays.

Announced in October, the Android 12L update will bring user interface improvements, a dedicated multitasking interface for tablets and improved app compatibility for those using Android outside of the candy bar smartphone realm.

In a blog post, Maru Ahues Bouza, Director, Android Developer Relations, explains: “With 12L, we’ve optimized and polished the system UI for large screens, made multitasking more powerful and intuitive, and improved compatibility support so apps look better right out of the box. 12L also includes a handful of new APIs for developers, such as for spatial audio and improved drag-and-drop for accessibility.”

Those UI improvements include an automatic switch to a two-column notification shade (main pic) for displays above 600dp, taking greater advantage of that surface area. The multitasking changes (above) bring a new taskbar that makes it easy to switch between apps. You can also drag and drop apps into split screen mode.

The update also brings a host of new APIs to help developers refine their apps and build new ones for these larger screens.

While the first of three beta versions is only available on Pixel phones right now, Lenovo is launching the beta for the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro. If you’re enrolled in the Android beta program, Android 12L Beta 1 is available now as an over the air update. It’s also available by setting up an Android emulator in Android studio.

Google hasn’t really made much of an effort to make Android more tablet-friendly since the ancient Android Honeycomb release a decade ago. With Samsung’s foldables starting to gain some momentum, now seems like the perfect time to improve upon that record.

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