Google announces Android 12L designed specifically for tablets and foldable phones

The first developer beta is available right now, with an official release expected early next year.

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Android 12L includes improvements to settings and notifications. 

Image: Google

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Google may have just released Android 12 for its Pixel smartphone lineup and to its hardware partners, but that hasn't slowed down development on the next version of Android. More specifically, on Wednesday, Google announced Android 12L -- an operating system designed specifically for large screen Android devices. Think foldable smartphones and tablets. 

Android 12L is currently available for developers to begin building and testing their apps against using the Android 12L emulator via Android Studio. 

Google focussed on addressing multitasking on large screen Android devices -- including the ability to open multiple apps in split-screen mode just by dragging an app icon from the taskbar at the bottom of the display to either side of the screen. 

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Split-view looks nice on Android 12L. 

Animated Image: Google

There's also a new compatibility mode that will force unoptimized apps to show up as phone apps, in a single column, instead of spreading across the entire screen, as is the case with most Android apps now. The end result is an app that doesn't look or work right on a larger screen. 

Google is encouraging developers to test their apps and get them ready for Android 12L, which will arrive as a feature drop for larger-screened devices in early 2022. 

From Google's own Android 12L timeline, it appears we'll have a few 12L beta updates after this initial preview release, leading up to a final release sometime after February. 

Here's the official timeline from Google:

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Google's release schedule for Android 12L.

Image: Google

There have been rumors that Google is working on a foldable Pixel phone that could potentially launch as soon as this year. However, with Android 12L still a few months out, it's possible that Google will hold its first foldable phone until 12L is ready. 

If nothing else, it signals that Google is serious about foldable phones and tablets that run Android; the latter part of that has been a pain point for Android users for years. 

Hopefully, Android 12L fixes those issues and streamlines how developers can improve their apps for bigger screens. 

What do you think? Will Google release a foldable Pixel phone? Let us know in the comments below.