The release of Android 12 Developer Preview 1 (DP1) on Friday gave us our first official look at what’s to come. 

As usual, we’ve spent some time checking out the Android 12 DP1 launch over the weekend, and we’ve rounded up all the neat new features that are in, or are coming to Android 12.

Improved One handed Mode.

Phones are getting BIG these days. Even so-called small phones have displays which start above 5-inches. In Android 12, Google is introducing two new features aimed at making one-handed phone use easier – a One-handed Mode and a new User Interface style called ‘Silky’.

One Handed Mode

In Android 12, a new One-Handed mode is coming. The feature isn’t live yet, but the underlying code is, as are all the instructions for using the feature as you can see in the video below.

Silky UI update

Google is also playing around with a new ‘Silky’ mode in UI. There’s comparisons being drawn between Silky and OnePlus’s efforts on their Oxygen OS, but in a broader sense at Samsung’s OneUI, both comparisons are apt given how it looks.

The Silky UI does several things to make using the phone one handed, it makes the text larger and also moves the position of the text down to about halfway down the screen, making it easier to get your thumb to it. You can see the comparison of the Silky UI against the Android 11/12 usual design here:

I was a big fan of the look of Samsung’s OneUI and how much easier it makes it to use a phone as large as the S21 Ultra easier to use with one hand. Google often adopts good ideas from other OEMs Android skins, and this one seems particularly worth it.

You can’t see it just yet on the default preview, but if you’ve gone as far as flashing the Android 12 Dev Preview, then this line should be easy to understand ‘adb shell settings put global settings_silky_home true‘.

Scrolling Screenshots.

For users of Huawei, Samsung, Oppo phones scrolling screenshots have been a standard part of the system for a while, but not so stock Android experience, and in Android 12 Google is finally fixing that.

The scrolling screenshot feature isn’t live by default on Android 12 DP1, but again Mishaal Rahman from XDA-Developers got it working. It looks good, though very buggy which is likely why it’s not live in this build. 

As you see in the video, the scroll button will appear in the Screenshot toast letting you continue to capture down the screen.

You can now put text and emoji on screenshots

While scrolling screenshots is nice there’s now also better screenshot editing tools. Google introduced native screenshot editing in Android Pie, but in Android 12 you can now annotate your screenshots with text and emoji.

When you take a screenshot in Android 12 DP1 you can select edit as usual, but now you’ll see both a Text and an Emoji buttons. As you can see you can select from a few different colours for your text.

Control over your Camera and Mic

In iOS 14, Apple brought in the option to have a green dot show up when your camera was active, or an orange dot when the mic was active. Google is now giving you the option to just kill the camera and Mic in Android 12 DP1.

The setting is, as we’ve found a lot of so far ;), turned off by default but 9to5Google got it working and you’ll have quick settings to toggle the mic on and off.

At the moment if you enable the setting, it simply kills access to the camera and mic system-wide, so we’ll have to wait for a new Dev Preview before this one shows up. 

Double Tap on back gesture

If you’ve embraced gestures on Android, a new one is inbound with a Double Tap on the back of the phone gesture set to launch for some phones.

The Double Tap on Back gesture is only showing up on the Pixel 5, as found by 9to5Google, and offers you a new way to perform a limited set of functions just by double tapping on the back of your phone.

At this stage, the gesture doesn’t work even if it does show up in Settings on the Pixel 5. The setup options show there are five functions you can assign to the double tap gesture – which you can also choose to require quite a forceful double tap to ensure no miss-taps.

6. Android 12 uses ‘Nearby’ sharing more, including with Wifi passwords

Google introduced their ‘Nearby’ sharing feature last year, and in Android 12 they’re using it in a neat way: letting you share WiFi passwords. 

You can still share the WiFi password with a QR code, or you can just select ‘Nearby’ from the icon and have it pop up on the recipient phone letting them connect to your WiFi network.

It’s a pretty simple thing, but it’s easy – if the person you’re sending the link to has Nearby enabled on their device, but even if they don’t they should see a prompt to enable it. 

Android 12 release

After this initial release, Google intends to launch five more Android 12 Dev Previews before a pre-release platform stability release. Usually we see a new Android version launched in August, though COVID may see it pushed back a little this year. 

Each release of the Android 12 Dev Preview will bring more stability and updates to features, which we can check out as they get closer to release.