Right on schedule, Google today launched the third developer preview of Android 12, the latest version of its mobile operating system. According to Google's roadmap, this will be the last developer preview before Android 12 goes into beta, which is typically also when you'll likely see the first over-the-air updates for nondevelopers who want to try it out. For now, developers still have to flash a device image to their supported Pixel devices.
Google notes that with the beta phase coming up, now is the time for developers to start compatibility testing to make sure their apps are ready. Currently, the plan is for Android 12 to reach platform stability by August 2021. At that point, all the app-facing features will be locked in and finalized.
So what's new in this preview? As usual, there are dozens of smaller new features, tweaks and changes, but the highlights this time around are the ability for developers to provide new haptic feedback experiences in their apps and new app launch animations.
This new app launch experience may be the most noticeable change here for both developers and users. The new animation will take the app from launch to a splash screen that shows the app's icon and then to the app itself. "The new experience brings standard design elements to every app launch, but we’ve also made it customizable so apps can maintain their unique branding," Google explains. Developers will get quite a bit of leeway in how they want to customize this splash screen with their own branding. The most basic launch experience is enabled by default, though.
Rich haptic feedback is also new in this release. It's hard not to look at this and think of Apple's now mostly abandoned Force Touch, but this is a bit different. The idea here is to provide "immersive and delightful effects for gaming, and attentional haptics for productivity."
Other new features in this release include a new call notification template that is meant to make it easier for users to manage incoming and ongoing calls. Google says these new notifications will be more visible and scannable. There are also improvements to the Neural Networks API for machine learning workloads and new APIs to support a wider range of ultra high-resolution camera sensors.
With Android 12, Google is also deprecating its RenderScript API for running computationally intensive tasks in favor of GPU compute frameworks like Vulkan and OpenGL.
You can find a full breakdown of all of the changes in this release here.