Looks like Google is finally taking the tablet segment seriously. In October, Google had announced a preview of Android 12L, a version of the Android operating system designed for large-screened devices. Android 12L is now officially available and will begin to roll out to supported devices from Samsung, Lenovo and Microsoft starting later this year.
Android has long been criticised for delivering unintuitive system for tablets, and offering very little in the way of competition to Apple’s iPad. Though nobody knows whether 12L would be substantially better, but it’s a move in the right direction.
With 12L, screen real estate is better used. In a blog post, Andrei Popescu, VP of engineering, Android, has said: “With 12L, we’re optimising the display for the home screen, lock screen, notification shade, device set-up screens, settings and beyond, so they look even better on tablet and foldable screens. For example, we heard from you that the most common reason for swiping down to your notification shade is to check and clear your notifications. On 12L, we moved notifications and quick tiles to their own dedicated columns to give you more space to view and swipe away your notifications.”
The other update lies in the form of a taskbar, which has been added to help multitaskers launch and switch between apps on the spot. “You can also drag-and-drop any app from the taskbar to enter split-screen mode so you can do two things at once. You can watch a YouTube video while you scan the news, or search for accommodations for an upcoming trip in a Chrome browser while you view its location in Google Maps.”
The new UX changes are a welcome move but OEMs or device manufacturers don’t necessarily have to utilise them. For example, Microsoft Launcher already handles many of these tasks but who knows, Microsoft may opt in to use Google’s more native implementation in, say, Surface Duo.
Android 12L appears to be the counterpart of Apple’s iPadOS, but we don’t know how far will customisations be implemented. It’s coming to certain tablets and foldable devices but it also sounds like future mainland Android releases will include its UI improvements. “We’ll continue to build more features and functionalities to help you make the most of your larger screen devices in Android 13 and beyond,” Popescu writes.
The official launch of Android 12L arrived alongside the latest Pixel Feature Drop, the update that brings Google’s Pixel devices the latest set of new features.