Android 12 arrived in summer 2021, with the upgrade showcasing a revamped user interface, and many new features. Following this launch, Android released five Beta versions in the space of five months, with the final version being officially unveiled in October 2021. From a bigger emphasis on widgets to the brand-new customisable theme, discover the top five features of Android 12 below.

Material You

One of the most interesting Android 12 new features is Material You, a customisable theming tool designed to help you personalise your phone. Whenever you change your wallpaper, you can choose whether to use this built-in algorithm to react to this update. If you toggle Material You on, your UI will instantly pull the native colours from your wallpaper or home screen and repurpose these colours to display the time, date and even the buttons on your Quick Settings tiles.

You also have the option of using a themed icons feature, which will spread this custom colour scheme across any apps which are compatible with Material You. These apps include the likes of Google Drive, Calculator and Gmail, but this list is steadily growing.

Android 12 widgets

Widgets have been a constant feature across Android operating systems, and in the latest OS update they have been taken to another level.

When Android 12’s Material You feature is enabled, some of your widgets will incorporate this colour scheme and will change whenever you alter your wallpaper. In fact, a number of Android 12 widgets are customisable, giving you the power to change the style, outline shape and size of their appearance.

You can update some widgets when they’re on your home screen by long pressing the icon until it pops up. If a pencil appears in the bottom-right corner of the widget, this means that you can customise it. Tap the pencil and head over to the style screen where you can then add a personal touch to the widget.

widgets

Conversation is one of the most useful Android 12 widgets, making it easier than ever to chat with the people you message the most. This widget is compatible with all your messaging apps, and is easy to add to your home screen:

• Choose an empty part of your home screen and long-press. A menu will pop up, choose the Widgets option.
• Scroll through the list and tap Conversation, and then select the Conversation widget.
• Pick a recent conversation that you’d like to use in the widget. Once you’ve added this, it’s instantly available on your home screen.

One-handed mode

Android has reacted to the rise of larger smartphones by developing it’s dedicated one-handed mode for its latest operating system. This tool has been designed to make it easier to use large display phones like the Pixel 6 Pro and Oppo Find X3 Pro 5G with one hand, and improve accessibility for those with a limited range of movement.

To turn this mode on, select Settings > System > Gestures. You can then tap One-handed mode and toggle it on. When you enable this convenient feature, the whole UI is shifted to the bottom of the display, making it easier for you to reach the top of the app you already had open.

To start using One-handed mode, just drag down from the bottom edge of your phone and start to scroll. You can return your UI to normal by tapping the blank space at the top of the screen, above where your app has been moved down to.

Quick Tap

Another handy feature that’s available on phones with Android 12 is Quick Tap gesture. This is a customisable, multi-purpose tool that helps you effortlessly perform tasks.

Once you’ve activated Quick Tap, you can use it by double-tapping the back of your phone. This movement can then cover multiple tasks including taking a screenshot, activating Google Assistant and launching an app of your choice.

To enable this gesture, you’ll need to search under Settings > System > Gestures, you’ll then need to toggle Quick Tap on.

Now that you’ve turned the gesture on, it’s automatically set up to capture snapshots when you double tap the back of your phone. You can customise what you want to use this feature for by opening the Quick Tap menu and selecting which task you’d like this gesture to perform.

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Game Dashboard

Game Dashboard is an exciting addition that’s sure to go down well with Android smartphone gamers. Developed specifically to improve gameplay, this feature is exclusive to Google Pixel handsets, and works in tandem with any supported mobile games.

When you’ve activated the Game Dashboard, it’ll pop up when you’re playing a compatible game, showing you a game controller icon that sits on the side of the screen. If you tap on this symbol, you’ll bring up the dashboard.

Here, you’ll be able to access settings like Do Not Disturb, record your gameplay, stream your gaming session live on YouTube and even activate a Frames Per Second counter, to see how quickly your phone is processing your game.

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