Android 12 is here: All the details about downloading, compatibility, new features and more

Android 12 was released on Tuesday, but only to certain devices. Here's what to know.

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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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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
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3 min read

Google gave Android 12 a sleek redesign.


Android users can now download Android 12 on Pixel 3 and up. The new OS arrived after Google's Pixel event on Tuesday. Android 12 is the OS's biggest design change in years. With Android 12, you can expect to see customizable color palettes, updated notifications and faster, battery-saving performance. The new OS was released alongside Google's Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, which are powered by Google's own Tensor chips.

Here's everything we know about Android 12. (If you're an Apple user, here's everything we know about iOS 15.) 

You can download Android 12 now

Google released Android 12 during its October Pixel event on Tuesday. Android users can download for free, as long as you're using a Pixel phone -- Pixel 3 and newer.


Android 12 is available to download now.


How can I download Android 12?

As is usually the case with major Android updates, exactly how and when you'll get the update depends on who makes your device, like Google, Samsung, OnePlus or Xiaomi. But generally, once the update starts rolling out, you'll go to System > Advanced > System update > Check for update

Is my device compatible with Android 12?

With the vast number of Android phones available, it's difficult to list all the ones that will support the update to Android 12. But generally, you can expect the Google Pixel 3 and later to be compatible with Android 12, along with newer phones from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Nokia, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo and other manufacturers. The website GetDroidTips has collected an extensive list of devices it expects will be compatible with Android 12. 

Google's Pixel 5 smartphone

You can download the Android 12 public beta on your Google Pixel 3A and later. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Android 12: 7 new features we're excited about

Android 12 is a major update to the OS with a number of new features. Here's some of what we've seen so far:

App privacy features

With Android 12, Google is adding several new privacy features to apps to give you more transparency and control. A privacy dashboard helps you prevent apps from collecting unwanted information, and turn off your camera and microphone across all apps. (Here's how to use Android 12's new app privacy features.)

However, it's worth noting that these policies are less strict than those in Apple's recent iOS 14 software releases, which includes app "nutrition labels" that tell people what personal data their apps are collecting, and the new change in iOS 14.5 that requires developers to ask for permission to gather your data and track you across apps and websites. 

Watch this: Android 12 Beta hands-on

Redesigned notifications

Google is changing up the design of notifications to make them more modern and functional. When you tap on a notification, it will take you directly to the app or action you want to take, instead of going through an intermediary service to start that action. This should make everything run faster. 

Customized color themes for Pixel phones

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. 

Double-tap options

Another new feature lets you tap the back of your Android phone a set number of times to trigger the action of your choosing. Once you enable it in settings under Gestures, you'll see a list of actions you can set, like taking a screenshot, playing and pausing media or launching Google Assistant. 

One-handed mode

Android 12 appears to include a few design changes that make it easier to operate Android phones with one hand and your thumb. XDA Developers noted that the updated settings UI moves the Search bar to the bottom of the display for easier one-handed access. It also uncovered a new feature called "silky home" that makes the entire interface more suitable for one-handed use. 

Google Pixel 5

A new Android 12 feature will make it easier to use your phone with one hand.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Face-based autorotate

Today, you can turn your phone portrait or landscape and the screen will adjust with you. With Android 12, on Pixel phones, it appears you'll be able to choose to autorotate based on the way your head is turned -- for example, if you're lying down, according to 9to5Google

Trash and recycle bin management

Android has a hidden Recycle Bin/Trash feature that Google may allow you to manage with Android 12, according to XDA Developers. It looks like you'll be able to see how much storage space your trashed items take up, and clear the trash as needed. 

For more, check out three cool things Android 12 will be able to do that Android 11 can't and the best Android phones to buy for 2021.