Google's Android 12 is getting a major new feature update that makes plenty of changes to the current generation mobile OS. In fact, this is such a big upgrade that it gets it own name… Android 12L. Leading the changes are new improvements that will make Android 12L work better on Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 smartphone.
In fact, the whole point of Android 12L seems to be to bring improvements for folding phone compatibility. While the Surface Dou 2 is not a true folding phone, it will benefit from these changes alongside devices like Samsung's Galaxy Fold 3.
Perhaps the best of the new abilities is a refresh of the taskbar. Google says it is not easier to launch applications on dual-screen or folding screen devices. By using gestures, switching apps is more efficient, while split screen mode can be accessed through drag and drop.
Complete Changelog for Android 12L
- “We also focused on making key interactions easier on larger screens. For example, the lock screen pattern and PIN controls on tablets are now displayed at the side of the screen for easier reach, and users can simply tap the other side of the screen to bring the pin/pattern controls over to that side.
- For foldables, we optimized the home screen grid and polished the fold-unfold transition, so that users move seamlessly from a single exterior screen to the larger unfolded screen, reinforcing continuity while preserving their choices.
- On large screens, the notification shade takes advantage of the space by showing Quick Settings and notifications in a new two-column layout. The lock screen also uses a larger two-column layout to highlight notifications and clock, and system apps like Settings are also optimized.
- 12L adds a new taskbar that makes it easier to launch and switch apps on the fly. Gestures make using the taskbar even faster, with drag and drop to enter split-screen mode and swipe up to go home. In gesture navigation, a quick-switch gesture lets users flip through recent apps. Users can reveal or hide the taskbar at any time with a long press.
- Running apps in split-screen mode is a popular way of multitasking, and in 12L we've made split screen easier than ever to discover and use. Users can now drag and drop their favorite apps into split screen directly from the taskbar, or they can also use a new “Split” action in the overview to start split-screen mode with a tap.” Google says the Android 12L feature drop will arrive early in 2022.
Google says the Android 12L feature drop will arrive early in 2022.
Surface Duo 2
Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 will benefit from the Android 12L release, but it could be too little too late.
At the time of the announcements, we did a deep dive on the Surface Duo 2 and how on paper it is a significant improvement of the first model. It is worth checking out that break-down of the device to see how Microsoft has improved performance, the design, usability, and the camera.
However, since then I have gotten my hands on the Surface Duo 2 and unfortunately it has many of the same problems as the first model. Microsoft has made improvements and the Duo 2 is still amazing to look at and a triumph of engineering. It also still has a lousy camera, software bugs, and is just not very usable as a smartphone.
Of course, I am not alone in that assessment and the reviews of the smartphone are mostly in agreement. What that means for the future of Surface Duo remains to be seen. Is Microsoft going to continue to use resources on a device that does not sell well and is met by muted reception. That remains to be seen, but we could be on the verge of Microsoft pulling out of the smartphone market once again.
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