Android 12L could unlock the full potential of Android tablets and foldables

Android 12L screen size optimization
(Image credit: Google)

Android 12L just arrived as a developer preview and this new variant of Android 12 shows tremendous potential for Android tablets and foldables. It will bring a number of new features that should drastically enhance productivity on large screen Android devices.

Google released the preview today on the Android developers' site along with extensive documentation and an Android 12L emulator to take it for a spin without putting it on one of your devices (via Ars Technica).

While the basics of resizing for the larger screen have been in Android for years, this goes much further with changes throughout the operating system that affect the size and layout of on-screen elements for the larger screen.

Multitasking is a huge focus for Android 12L with a new taskbar that allows users to more quickly and easily switch between apps. With just a tap or a tap and drag, you can bring up a new app or change the layout of your split-screen apps.

Android 12L multitasking demonstration of taskbar and split-screen

(Image credit: Google)

Another problem Android tablet and foldable owners often run into is that apps aren't always optimized for large screens. And while Android 12L can't fix that completely, it does add an improved compatibility mode to deal with these apps. Device manufacturers will be able to set defaults for how these apps are handled with specific aspect ratios and design details like rounded corners to make it a more pleasant user experience.

Android 12L compatibility mode showing app with rounded corners and new aspect ratio.

(Image credit: Google)

While compatibility mode will help with apps that aren't optimized for tablets, Google is also taking steps to ensure that Android 12L users are better able to find apps that are optimized for their devices. This includes checks against large-screen app quality guidelines along with changes to Google Play that will allow users to specifically rate apps based on their performance on large-screen devices.

And while addressing foldables in their unfolded large-screen state is important, Google is also providing tools to do a better job of shifting between folded and unfolded with stacking and unstacking activities.

Android 12L stacking and unstacking activities showing shifting app mode for foldables

(Image credit: Google)

Google is targeting Q1 2022 for the official release of Android 12L to AOSP, which I could easily see slip to a May release in time for Google I/O 2022 and perhaps an announcement of the rumored Pixel Fold

While the iPad absolutely dominates the tablet market, there are still Android manufacturers like Samsung making fantastic hardware, and combined with the emergence of foldables this may be the motivation Google needed to give more attention to large-screen Android devices. We'll be watching the progress of the Android 12L developer preview with interest.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.