Android 12 Snow Cone: release date and new in the Google operating system
On May 18, 2021, Google presented the next update of the operating system for mobile devices. We talk about the new Android 12 Snow Cone OS in 2021, its features, and why you should upgrade
Despite all the efforts of Apple with its iOS, Android is still the most popular mobile operating system. According to analysts from Counterpointone, Android was installed on approximately 80% of smartphones shipped to stores in 2020. We show how the Android 12 Snow Cone OS, released in 2021, is different.
Due to the availability and popularity of the OS, Google constantly monitors its updates. As is the case with iOS, developers generally do not rebuild the system, but only add critical updates.
By tradition, the new version of the operating system received a name associated with another sweetness. This time Google chose snow horse — crushed sweet ice.
Android 12 release date
Before releasing an operating system, developers carefully check it in several stages. Android 12 is no exception. For the first time, the OS was shown to the public in February 2021. Then the developer version was made public, and the official release of Android 12 took place during the Google I / O 2021 conference on May 18, 2021. After that, another testing began — already open2. So far, only Google Pixel smartphones are participating in it.
However, the fact of the official release of Android 12 does not mean that the update will immediately begin to come to users “over the air”. As in the case of testing, first received the owners of Google Pixel smartphones. Official OS updates for other phones to Android 12 started shipping a little later than expected, in early October 2021. Android 12 was also installed out of the box on smartphones released at the end of 2021 and later.
What Devices Does Android 12 Run On?
As a rule, smartphones released no later than two years before the release of a new version of Android receive support for a new version of Android. Android 12 works with most 2021 and newer devices, most 2020 models, and some 2019 devices.
Here is a list of manufacturers and smartphones that support Android 12. It may expand over time.
However, enthusiasts are working on an unofficial port of Android 12 to older devices from different manufacturers. That’s just the stability of the device after that no one will guarantee.
How to update to Android 12
As a rule, the shell of the operating system of a smartphone or tablet itself offers to install all the latest updates. This system is called “updating over the air” or on the air. If, when connected to Wi-Fi, the device does not start the procedure for pre-downloading a new version of the OS, then your device probably simply does not support it.
However, sometimes the automatic update process may be disabled or may not work as expected. In this case, it can be started manually. In some versions of the Android shell, menu items may be named differently, but the algorithm remains the same for everyone. We will tell you how to upgrade to Android 12 using the example of a Redmi smartphone with MIUI firmware.
You need to go to the smartphone settings, select the “About phone” item, and then click on the button with the name of the firmware version — you will enter the OS update menu. At the same time, the smartphone will start a forced search for available updates and offer to install them. Also in this menu, you can download the current firmware version and the “Settings” item and enable automatic system updates.
How to install Android 12
Some users find that their devices will work better on an inappropriate default version of Android. For them, we will outline how to install Android 12 in general terms.
Android 12 is recommended to be installed on relatively “fresh” smartphones after 2020 release. When using newer models, the risks of unstable system operation are reduced. It should also be understood that when installing an unofficial version of Android, the factory warranty is lost, and in the process, the smartphone may fail.
In general, the process of installing Android 12 (as well as any version of the OS) can be divided into several parts. Each individual brand of smartphone may have its own characteristics, but the conceptual process is the same.
First of all, you need to unlock the bootloader of your smartphone. Manufacturers deliberately restrict access to this part of the firmware as a protection against an inexperienced user. Before unlocking, the device must be switched to Fastboot mode;
Then a non-original, but compatible Recovery is installed on the phone via a PC. It allows you to fully interact with the system and install other versions of Android;
Through a non-original Recovery, all data is deleted from the smartphone’s memory, and then Android 12 is installed from the downloaded image and Google services (if needed).
This algorithm is suitable for all smartphones on OS from Google. We deliberately do not give complete information on how to install Android 12 in order to protect our readers from the possibility of a device breaking during firmware. If you still decide to change the OS of your device to Android yourself, be sure to study the instructions. Information on almost every popular device can be found in Russian.
Known Issues and Solutions
When installing or updating Android 12, completely different problems can arise. Before you start installing a new OS on your device, be sure to review a few instructions on specialized sites. We will cover only the most common issues related to changing Android.
The smartphone does not enter or exit Fastboot mode
There are two options for switching to Fastboot mode from the Android device itself. In the first, you need to hold the “Volume Down” and “Power” buttons, and in the second — “Volume Up” and “Power On”. All manufacturers use only these two combinations.
Usually, after unlocking the bootloader, the smartphone exits Fastboot mode on its own. To force reboot your device from Fastboot to normal, hold down the power button until it vibrates (usually 20 to 30 seconds).
The smartphone does not connect to the computer in Fastboot mode
Always use the original cable to connect your device to your computer. “Left” wires may not work when flashing a new version of Android. If you do not have the original cable on hand, then buy a quality replacement. On a good wire, only one connector is soldered for connecting to the phone, and it costs at least 200–300 rubles.
Also, be sure to install special drivers for a PC with an Android device in Fastboot mode. Links to them are usually given in the complete instructions for installing a new version of Android.
Android OTA updates not coming to smartphone
Probably, the phone has an unlocked bootloader, rooted, system files have been changed, or a non-original version of Android is installed. As in the case of a warranty, after manually changing the operating system of the device, you lose updates and support from the manufacturer. This is not done out of harm — developers simply cannot prepare updates for each version of Android.
What’s new in Android 12
The appearance of the operating system can be improved indefinitely. In Android 12, they decided to make it even more “weightless”. To do this, for example, they got rid of the full-sized rectangular search widget on the main screen — now it is replaced by a small analogue that expands when clicked.
For the unity of the concept of appearance, the design of application loading windows is generated by the operating system itself, based on the color scheme of the program. By the way, the shades of the entire system depend on the color of the wallpaper — something similar has already been seen in non-standard launchers for Android.
The items in the quick settings menu when swiping down the screen in Android 12 have been made larger, now there are only six of them on one screen. They are hard to miss, so now the smartphone on Android 12 is easier to control with one hand.
By the way, in the notification curtain itself and in the phone settings, the avatar of the phone user from his Google account now flaunts. The notification dropdown menu in Android 12 has been made opaque.
In general, insider forecasts3 about design in Android 12 came true, but in a much broader sense. Scattered assumptions about the “weightless” appearance of the new OS were embodied in a whole concept called “Material You”, which replaced the previous “Material Design”. The developers themselves call the design update perhaps the largest in the history of their OS.
The essence of “Material You” is that the system itself adjusts to the image on the desktop, and selects the desired shades for the entire color scheme. This Android 12 element is called Dynamic Colors. When you set the wallpaper, it will analyze the image and offer you to choose from four color schemes. For example, for wallpaper with a soft pink color, the algorithm selects themes and design of programs in pastel colors.
With this extraordinary method, Google developers want to unify the system outwardly so that it looks elegant on all devices with the new OS. Of course, “Material You” will work most adequately with “branded” devices and programs from Google.
To create a unified style, Android 12 removed the ability to customize fonts from the system. Now only one will be installed by default — the original Google Sans. Along with this, the system lost the ability to change the style of notification and application icons. In this regard, the unified design of Android 12 is very different from previous versions of the OS, where it was possible to completely change the appearance of the system out of the box.
Now “clean” Android 12 has become more like iOS closed from changes. However, users were left with the option to install alternative launchers from the Google Play store. They can still change the design of Android beyond recognition. Another thing is that most users will be satisfied with the standard look of Android 12 with a pre-selected color scheme.
By the way, the appearance of application icons is also “picked up” from the Material You color scheme. But this will not always happen — not all developers will want their application launch buttons to change.
It is noteworthy that the visual concept is universal for all devices on one Google account. The colors you are used to will be found in a smartphone, tablet, smart watch and even Android-Auto.
The technical part of Android 12 smartphones has also received updates. Perhaps the most interesting are the new software interfaces for working with content.
For example, now you can insert images into the messenger without saving them on the device. We saw a picture on the Internet, clicked “Copy”, and then pasted it directly into the messenger.
Also, the new version of the OS adds support for the .AVIF (image) and .HEVC (video) formats. At the same size as .JPG and .AVI, they have the best quality.
LaMDA AI Interface
During the presentation, developers from Google Android 12 drew attention to the artificial intelligence engine under the unusual name LaMDA. It was created for “live” communication with devices on various topics. A self-learning system takes data from the Internet and its database, and then gives the user quite meaningful answers.
As an example, during the presentation, Google CEO Sundar Pichai talked to the planet Pluto on the topic of cold and gravity. The interface is planned to be used in the voice assistant and Google search engine, as well as in the Google Workplace workspace.
But in the final version of Android 12, the new artificial intelligence algorithm did not appear. At least not officially announced. Interesting fact — Google developer Blake Lemoyne lost his job in the summer of 2022 due to the fact that he announced that LaMDA has consciousnessfour. The programmer talked to artificial intelligence and LaMDA answered quite difficult questions for him.
Google maps update
The American company did not reinvent the wheel, and in Android 12 they simply made the “native” navigation application more convenient and intuitive. For example, now the algorithms indicate to pedestrians exactly where the road crossing is located on the street, and motorists are “guided” through the least loaded driveways. Also, the developers have simplified the navigation of pedestrians in places where it is most difficult to do so. Just turn on the app and the camera will show you which of the aisles of the airport or shopping center you need to enter.
The most “space” and ambitious project from Google is Project Starline. This is a special algorithm for processing video images in real time, which, according to the developers, looks like a “magic mirror”.
Naturally, there are no miracles inside, but there are methods for working with cameras and device sensors. The system creates a 3D image of the interlocutor, processes the image and displays it on a special light field display in the form of a hologram.
Of course, you won’t be able to see such beauty on the screen of a smartphone, but, apparently, it is possible to adapt a smartphone as a camera for creating holograms.
This technology has also not appeared in Android 12 yet. However, Google is actively working on Project Starline and is even looking for developers to work on this project.5. There is no additional information about the video processing algorithm yet.
One hand operation
Due to the large size of smartphones, it becomes inconvenient to operate them with one hand. Some firmwares add a special function that narrows the effective part of the screen to a diagonal of ~ 5 inches, but there was no convenient analogue in the official versions. In version 12, this oversight was decided to be corrected. Now even a “shovel” can be controlled by a person with a small palm.
It is noteworthy that the unused part of the screen is simply blurred with a neutral color — it looks much more aesthetically pleasing than the black bars in similar solutions from other developers.
After testing, the one-handed control mode appeared in Android 12. It works the same as during the first presentation — the active part of the screen shrinks and slides down. You can reach any part of it with your thumb.
Working with screenshots
Such updates can hardly be called critical, but they greatly simplify the user’s life. A small image editor is now built into the screenshot program. You can add text, emoji, or “blur” part of the screenshot to the screenshot. You can also draw on the screenshot by hand.
Privacy & Security
Google decided to listen to users who are worried about their personal data. In Android 12, smartphone microphones and cameras are turned off at the system level. In a clean version of Android 12 for devices from Google (Pixel series), you can enable confidential mode directly from the notification shade. In other shells, this feature can be found in the privacy settings of the smartphone.
For convenience, all privacy settings were moved to a separate item “Privacy Dashboard”. In this menu, the system clearly shows which applications have recently used the smartphone’s camera or microphone. Also, Android now indicates in the upper corner of the screen the use of the camera or microphone by an application with a small icon.
For those who are afraid to be without help at the right time, we added the function of calling emergency services. If the phone detects an emergency (for example, a sharp blow or pressing the selected set of buttons), it will start making loud sounds, and after 5 seconds it will dial the number of the pre-specified number. For example, rescue services or a close relative. By default, the function does not work and must be enabled in the emergency call menu in the settings.
The new version of Android has a “native” mode for mobile gaming. Like its many counterparts, it clears RAM before launching games, adjusts screen brightness, and blocks pop-up notifications from non-gaming apps at the most inopportune moment.
Search giant Google has finally added to Android 12 the ability to search for files throughout the smartphone. The algorithm processes the search query and looks for results for it in notes, photos or videos. In the same Spotlight menu, you can switch to search by query on the Internet. For now, this feature only works in English.
Developers from Google are closely following the latest trends in mobile operating systems. In Android 12, following Apple, they slightly changed the functionality of widgets. In particular, the “Highlights” widget has been redesigned — information about sports matches and a shopping list have been added to it. Widgets for the “native” applications of the American company have also been updated. For example, Google Keep, Google Disc and Youtube Music.
If the user does not launch the application for several months, then it will go into “sleep mode” or hibernation. The system will minimize its size and prohibit it from sending notifications. At the same time, the application will physically remain in the smartphone’s memory, and it can always be launched.
App installation indication on the home screen
A feature completely copied from iOS. Now, immediately after starting the installation of the program, its icon appears on the main screen. During installation, it changes color, and a bar moves around it, showing the status of the installation of the application.
Android 12 turned out to be an ambiguous operating system. In the “clean” version of the OS, they tried to create a universal design that is suitable for any user. During the presentation of the Material You design, the idea seemed great, but in reality, users are faced with the fact that the Dynamic Colors algorithm creates too “calm” and pastel colors. The system brings colors to a “common denominator”, frankly drowning out bright and “pulling out” dark pictures.
In technical terms, Google developers also did not make any discoveries. System tasks began to load the processor 23% less6but at the same time, the system requirements of the original Android 12 have also increased. For stable operation of the system, you need at least 6 GB of RAM and a screen with a resolution of at least 1080P7.