At last month’s Google I/O developer conference, Google took the wraps off its latest Android OS release: Android 12. With a customizable design centered around Google’s Material You to a plethora of new privacy features, Android 12 is shaping up to be Google’s biggest OS release in years. Although Google did release the first Android 12 Beta at the event, it didn’t have most of the new privacy features teased at Google I/O. That changes with the release of Android 12 Beta 2.
Google released the second Android 12 Beta earlier today, and the press release emphasizes the addition of new privacy features including a privacy dashboard as well as toggles and indicators for the microphone and camera. Among other changes, there’s also a revamped Wi-Fi experience.
- Privacy dashboard: This page shows what data has been accessed on your phone and how often that data has been accessed. It has a simple timeline view of all accesses to the device’s microphone, camera, and location within the past 24 hours. This page also helps users see why an app has accessed sensitive data and make adjustments to permissions more quickly. Developers can provide an explanation for why their app handles sensitive data by responding to the new system intent ACTION_VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE_FOR_PERIOD. Developers are also advised to track accesses in their code and in third-party libraries by taking advantage of Android’s Data Auditing APIs.
- Microphone and camera toggles and indicators: You’ll see indicators in the status bar when the microphone or camera is being used on your device. You’ll also have access to Quick Settings tiles that disable camera or microphone access. Developers are advised to review their app’s uses of the microphone or camera and remove any unnecessary uses.
- Clipboard read notification: Android 12 Beta 2 will now show a toast message at the bottom whenever an app reads the clipboard using the getPrimaryClip() method. The toast message won’t be shown if the clipboard was copied from the same app, however. To avoid being shamed on social media, developers are advised to minimize their app’s reads from the clipboard.
- Updated Wi-Fi UX experience: The second Android 12 beta has added a “simpler and more intuitive connectivity experience across the Status Bar, Quick Settings, and Settings.” There’s a new Internet panel that pops up when you long-press on the Internet Quick Setting tile (this tile was previously named “Wi-Fi” in earlier releases). This panel helps you quickly switch between networks and troubleshoot issues without diving into settings.
With the release of Android 12 Beta 2, there are now two more Betas left until the stable release later this year. The Platform Stability release will roll out in August 2021 alongside what’s presumably Beta 4. When that happens, app-facing system behaviors, SDK/NDK APIs, and non-SDK lists will be finalized.
Android 12 Beta 2 is available starting today for supported Google Pixel phones, which includes the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5. Beta 1 was available for a handful of phones from other phone makers, but Google is leaving it up to the OEM to push an update to Beta 2. The non-Pixel devices that received Beta 1 are: ASUS ZenFone 8, iQOO 7 Legend, OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, OPPO Find X3 Pro, Realme GT, TCL 20 Pro 5G, Tecno Camon 17, Xiaomi Mi 11, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro / Mi 11i / Redmi K40 Pro+, and ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G.
Of note, Beta 2 is also available for Android TV, so developers can fire up the emulator or flash the build onto an ADT-3.