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Android 12 Beta 2 was rolled out to all beta participants this week and has a number of new features and settings for testers to play around with. While the Android 12 beta is still only available for Pixel devices, don’t let the FOMO infect you. Android 12 is still a few months away from a stable release, and this latest build sounds like it’s the most buggy yet.
That said, there is a lot of cool stuff in this update. Below we tick off the biggest new tweaks in Android 12 Beta 2 that every Android user should know about.
Android 12 brings new privacy monitors and blocking tools
Android 12 Beta 2 improves the security of the operating system with several privacy-oriented features.
The first is the new privacy dashboard, which makes it easy to see what high-level permissions have been granted to each app on your phone. The donut chart at the top of the page shows the number of times your device’s camera, location data, microphone, and other major functions have been used in the past 24 hours. Below that is a list of all possible permissions that apps can request; Tapping any of the categories will bring up a list of third-party apps that have permission to use this feature, making it easier to manage app permissions from a single menu. System-level apps, like your phone’s default camera app, don’t appear in the list by default, but preinstalled apps like Google Maps do.
Similarly, a privacy indicator will now appear at the top of the device’s screen whenever an app is using your camera, microphone, or any other feature that could pose a privacy issue. When the warning first appears, you will see icons for each of the functions used for a few moments before they minimize to a simple green dot. Tapping the dot will open the quick settings menu, which now includes toggles to block camera and microphone access.
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Visual changes and new interface elements in Android 12
One of the biggest changes in Android 12 involves a visual overhaul of the Android core interface. Android 12 takes the design aesthetic from Google Material, and Android 12 Beta 2 enhances the look with “Material You” themes that match the color of your phone’s user interface, notifications, and other elements to match your wallpaper.
The aesthetic redesign extends to the media controls and volume controls, which now take up less space on your lock and notification screens and adapt to your Material You theme. Likewise, the weather and date home screen widget has a bolder font.
New shortcuts in Android 12
Rounding out the notable additions in Android 12 Beta 12 are new shortcuts – including a new, smaller power menu. Pressing the power button in Android 11 brings up a small menu with shortcuts for device settings, your Google Pay wallet, and power controls. On Android 12, that menu now includes the Power Off, Restart, Emergency Call, and Lock buttons, while holding down the Power button itself brings up the Google Assistant. You can also call up this menu via a new “Power Button” switch in the quick settings.
To take account of the new power menu, Google moved the links for the Google Pay wallet and the device control to the quick settings (they were in the power button menu on Android 11). There’s also an Internet button that lets you quickly switch between WiFi and cellular data, view and connect to available networks, and jump into your device’s full network settings. The previously mentioned privacy locks on your camera and microphone are also shown in the quick settings menu.
Download and try Android 12 Beta 2
Android 12 Beta 2 is only available on Pixel 3, 3a, 4, 4a, and 5 smartphones, including XL and 5G models. Anyone can register their device for the beta program, however We advise you not to install it on your main phone until it’s in its final stages – preferably until it’s full release in the fall. Each iteration of the beta brings with it new unfinished functionality, and so far it appears beta is 2 the least stable beta build to date.
That said, if you have a secondary Pixel device – or don’t mind fixing app crashes and other bugs – you can Join the Android 12 beta program here.