Android 12L Could Bring New Features to Large and Small Screens

The focus is on larger screens, but it isn’t the bigger picture

Key Takeaways

  • Google is working on a new update for Android 12 called Android 12L.
  • Android 12L is scheduled to arrive in beta this December and focuses on unifying the Android experience on larger screens.
  • While the features mainly will benefit foldables, tablets, and Chromebooks, Google also plans to bring 12L to regular phones.
An Android phone on a black desk mat with a white set of earbuds in an open case next to it.

Eriel Suarez / Unsplash

Despite focusing primarily on making Android 12 better for foldables, tablets, and Chromebooks, the upcoming Android 12L release also will benefit smaller phones by addressing bugs and introducing new features.

Google initially unveiled Android 12L last week, noting that it would use the update to create a more unified Android experience on tablets, folding phones, and even Chromebooks. The idea is to make better use of the real estate provided by the larger screens. Google plans to address this by improving multitasking and the look of notifications, and even adding some backend changes.

But it doesn't stop there, as Google also plans to bring Android 12L to smaller devices. While smaller phones won't take advantage of the significant changes—like the new user interface and app resizing options—they still can glean some benefits from the update.

"The focus is on enhancing the user experience on big screens by enabling multitasking and providing layouts that take advantage of the bigger space available on such devices," Dragos Dobrean, a mobile developer and co-founder of appssemble, explained in an email.

"For regular smartphones, this update doesn't bring many improvements—most notably is probably the nearby calling that allows making a call from a nest hub and synchronizes the calls between them."

Making it Matter

While Android 12L will shift most of its focus to larger screens, as Dobrean pointed out, some features from the update will be a boon for smaller phones. The nearby calling feature that he mentions is something Google terms as its Cross-Device Communication Service. It’s set to release on Pixel phones with Android 12L, and allows you to make and receive calls directly from your Nest Hub.

"The focus is on enhancing the user experience on big screens by enabling multitasking and providing layouts that take advantage of the bigger space available on such devices."

You also can transfer calls between your phone and your Nest Hub, making the two devices work together seamlessly. It’s a nice feature change, though not necessarily a big enough reason to push Android 12L to smaller devices. That’s where some of the backend changes come into play.

Because larger screens offer more screen space to work with, a big part of this update has shifted toward multitasking. While these features won’t work the same on smaller screens, there’s still a good chance you’ll be able to make use of them in some shape or fashion.

Google also has plans to improve gesture navigation, which no doubt will play out on smaller screens, too. Gestures have quickly become a staple of navigating any phone operating system, and we see these control methods used often in Android and iOS.

Finding Substance in Small Things

If you’re looking for big changes, Android 12L doesn’t look like it brings much to the table for smaller phones. However, if you start to focus on the smaller things—like how Google introduces new developer APIs to help make third-party app support smoother, you begin to see the underlying promise.

Android 12L is a chance for Google to fix some of the smaller issues that have been introduced to the latest operating system’s version. They aren’t deal-breaking issues, but they’re things that will help smooth out the OS’s operating as a whole.

Screenshots from Android 12L.


Because the update is slated to arrive on smaller phones, users should expect to see some of the smaller UI changes make the leap to Pixel and other regular-sized devices.

Device Controls is another one that’s getting some work, and based on what we’ve seen so far, Google appears to be setting things up for custom home groups. Google also looks to be separating the Wi-Fi from the internet tile, which shows all your data connections.

It’s easy to look at an update and only see the significant changes that Google is making. However, it’s just as important to take into account the behind-the-scenes changes that might affect you. Android 12L will be a big update, which means Google can pack in a lot of bug fixes.

As with any operating system, bugs and problems always pop up, and this is a great chance for Google to address them while also introducing several new options for users to take advantage of.

Was this page helpful?