Launched in October 2021 – alongside the latest Google Pixel series – Android 12 brings the biggest aesthetic change in Android operating systems to date. There are also updates to settings and functionality, new widgets and a range of other convenient improvements designed to give Android users the best possible experience. We unpack exactly how to download Android 12, as well as all the new features, in more detail below.

How to Upgrade to Android 12

If your smartphone is compatible with this software update, you should be able to download Android 12 in a few simple steps. It’s worth noting that these instructions may vary slightly in line with the make and model of your device, but the below steps are likely to work for the majority of Android smartphones:

  1. Make sure your phone is plugged in to charge, and connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network.
  2. Open up your Settings app, and scroll down to System.
  3. Tap the System update icon.
  4. You may already see the Android 12 update pending here, but if it’s not, you can tap Check for update until it appears.
  5. Begin the download option, and leave your phone to update.

Android 12 New Features

Design Update: Material You

Android has put appearance front and centre in this update, and the new redesign Material You aims to offer a more cohesive user experience. With this update, colour extraction is used to pull native colours from your wallpaper or home screen, before repurposing these shades throughout the OS for elements like the time, and your widgets.

Quick Settings Tiles

Quick settings have also had a makeover, with larger, more accessible tiles for factors like brightness, Bluetooth, torch, battery saver and more. A couple of these have slightly updated functionality too – like the internet tile, which now takes you to a separate menu. Here, you can toggle your Wi-Fi connection off or on, choose to connect to mobile data, or switch to a different network altogether.

Privacy Dashboard

A completely new feature for Android 12, the Privacy Dashboard is effectively a central hub for your permissions data, housed in Settings. When you open the Privacy Dashboard, you’ll see a pie chart that shows you which apps are using certain permissions, and at what time. If you wish to, you’ll then have the option to disable specific permissions, like location, camera or microphone.

Camera and Microphone Indicators

To complement the Privacy Dashboard, Android 12 also sees the introduction of camera and microphone indicators. Whenever you’re using an app which is accessing one of these features, a small green rectangle containing either a microphone or camera symbol will appear in the top-right corner of your display. This gives you clear visibility of your permissions in real-time, so you can shut down your task if you’d like to make any changes.

Scrolling Screenshots

Until now, screenshots on Android devices have been static – so they only captured the exact frame you could see on your display. With scrolling screenshots, you can get an image of a whole article or webpage, including content which is hidden from your view.

To access this feature, just take a screenshot as you normally would on your device, and then tap Capture More for an image file containing the whole page.

One-handed Mode

Another convenient feature that has been updated on Android 12 is one-handed mode. When enabled, you can make the most of this setting by swiftly swiping downwards near the bottom of the screen. The contents of the display will shift downwards, so you can easily access any controls at the top without stretching, or using another hand.

Gaming Mode

Keen smartphone gamers will be pleased to hear that there’s even a dedicated Gaming Mode, albeit hidden away in your notification settings. When activated, Gaming Mode will automatically activate do not disturb, while the Game Dashboard provides quick access to settings like FPS, and a YouTube Live button, should you want to stream your gameplay.

To make the most of this addition, go to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb > Schedules on your smartphone, and then tick the box next to Game Mode to activate.

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