Android 12: Google's major new revamp changes your phone from head to toe. Here's how

This week Google showed off Android 12 and its new lock screen, notifications and color redesign. Here's what to know.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
2 min read

Google gave Android 12 a sleek redesign, unveiled at Google I/O 2021.


Google's Android 12 operating system, revealed at the Google I/O developer conference Tuesday, represents the biggest design change in the history of the OS, complete with customizable color palettes, updated notifications and faster, battery-saving performance.

There are now more than 3 billion active Android devices worldwide, Sameer Samat, vice president of Android, said during the Google I/O keynote. Now available as a public beta (here's how to download Android 12) and with a general release likely arriving around September, Android 12's new features may differ depending on your device. On Google Pixel phones , when you choose your wallpaper, a feature called color extraction will update the whole system, including your lock screen, widgets and notifications, with custom complementary colors, Samat said.

Another part of the redesign involves more fluid motions, animations and responses to your touch. You'll find an always-on display, and more adaptive notifications -- for example, when you dismiss them on the lock screen, the clock will appear larger, so you know you're caught up. 

Several under-the-hood improvements promise to speed up your phone and save battery life, including reducing the CPU time needed for core system services by up to 22% and reducing the use of big cores by the system server by up to 15%, Samat said. 

Notifications also get a refresh to give you a better at-a-glance view. The Quick Settings bar also gets an update, and now includes Google Pay and Home Controls along with more customization so you can keep everything you need in one place that's easy to access. 

When you press the power button, you'll trigger Google Assistant for helping to make phone calls, asking questions or reading articles aloud. 

For more, check out how to use Android 12's new app privacy features, and the best new Android 12 features

Watch this: Google execs talk Android 12, privacy, skin health and climate change