Last year, Google pushed out the Android 11 stable release at the beginning of September. However, Android 11 wasn’t too drastically different from Android 10 (or Android 9 Pie, for that matter). As such, it was relatively easy for Google to stick to its proposed release schedule. Yesterday, the company reached an important milestone, the launch of Android 12 on the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP). This means the true stock version of the operating system is live for anyone to download.
However, the AOSP version and the final version that you will see on the Pixel devices and other phones will not be the same. This means that yesterday’s news does not mean you should take out your Pixel phones and start looking for updates. Google has admitted that the Android 12 stable rollout will land in the next few weeks.
Android 12 is pretty, but not all of its changes are visual, though. Among the bigger (if less marketably attractive) features are the enhancements to customer privacy. There are new indicators for when the microphone and camera are being accessed — similar to the iOS feature that landed last year, but Google’s been working on it for a few years.
Still, the news is a big deal as it means the core Android 12 experience is finished. OEMs are now free to release their own versions of Android 12 and people who want to mod the operating system for custom ROM releases can do so.
You can also toggle access to the mic and camera to blanket disable them if you want. Plus, there’s a new one-stop-shop in settings for privacy-related features called the Privacy Dashboard that gives you an easy visual overview of which apps are accessing what, more easily highlighting potentially sketchy behaviours. This is all on top of other changes like Android 12’s new Private Compute Core.
Interestingly, it is possible that other OEMs could push out an Android 12 stable release before Google does it for Pixels. We’ll need to wait and see how that goes, but this could be one of the first times a wide release of Android lands on non-Pixel phones first.