Big changes are coming to Android 12, and you can take a look for yourself today. Well, you can as long as you’ve got one of the handful of Android phones supported in the Android 12 Beta. The final software won’t be available until later this year, but the beta has a hint of the huge “Material You” redesign just unveiled at Google I/O.
Android 12 includes numerous security and efficiency improvements, but all of those were available in the developer preview. The beta is a different animal entirely. It’s easier to install, gets updates, and it includes a raft of user-facing improvements.
Google just announced Material You at the I/O conference, and the beta is your first chance to take a peek. This interface will use your backgrounds to generate unique color palettes for system and app themes. In the demos shown at I/O, Material You makes the whole OS feel unified and modern. The beta isn’t there yet because no apps support the new theming features. Google says that will change by the time Android 12 launches.
The beta also features a Privacy Dashboard, which keeps track of all the permissions apps request on your phone. The dashboard provides an easy way to revoke permissions that look suspicious. Apps that record video and audio will be in the dashboard, of course, but they will also produce a visible indicator at the top of the screen when actively using those components.
The developer preview was only available with downloadable system images, but you can get the beta as a regular OTA update from Google. However, you can only sign up for the Google beta if you’ve got a recent Pixel phone (Pixel 3 or newer). A few other brands like Asus, Nokia, OnePlus, and Xiaomi are also rolling out support for the beta, but the way you install those builds will vary.
For Pixel phones, it’s just a few clicks. First, make sure your preferred Google account is logged into the phone. Your compatible devices will appear on the Android 12 Beta landing page, allowing you to opt into the test. After confirming, an OTA update will appear on your device. Installing it will take a few minutes, and then you’ll be on the latest version of Android.
The Android 12 Beta will continue getting updates throughout the summer as Google hones its next big Android redesign. At the end of the test, your phone will get an update to the final build. However, if you decide to remove your device from the beta, you’ll have to reset the device and lose any data that isn’t backed up.
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