Android 12 is coming soon — here are 6 features we want to see

Android head logo
Android head logo (Image credit: Android Central)

As impossible as it is to believe, it won't be too much longer before Google starts talking about Android 12. We're obviously many months out from the public release, but developer previews and public betas will be here before you know it.

The launch of the latest Android update is one of the most exciting things we have to look forward to every single year, and following the high praise of Android 11, we're incredibly eager to learn what Google has in store for us in 2021. The only problem, however, is that details on Android 12 are incredibly scarce at the moment.

With that being the case, we've rounded up a list of features we want to see in the latest build of Android. These aren't things that have been confirmed or denied by Google — but if we had a say in anything — this is what we'd make sure is in Android 12.

Revamped widgets

iOS 14 and Android 11

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Widgets have been a thing in Android since the very first version in 2008, and while we've seen subtle improvements to them over the years, the widget world remains a wild west of uncertainty. They all look different, a lot of developers completely ignore them, and there hasn't been meaningful growth for widgets in far too long.

Hot off the heels of Apple introducing home screen widgets with iOS 14, I'd love to see Google use that as a catalyst for investing time into upgrading the widget experience on Android, if not the theming/home screen experience as a whole.

Widgets in their current form are all over the place. Some are amazing, others are terrible, and then you have tools like KWGT for creating completely custom ones. All of this is fine, but if we're ever going to see a streamlined widget experience that looks like there's a clear vision behind it, Google needs to introduce similar guidelines as we see in iOS 14.

I'm not saying highly-customized widgets need to die, but if Google can introduce widget-making best practices and recommended design guidelines, I like to think we'd see greater adoption of them across the OS. Hell, even just streamlined widgets across Google apps as an example to follow would be appreciated at this point.

One-handed mode

One-handed mode on the Galaxy S21

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Despite a resurgence in smaller handsets last year, a lot of the best Android phones are still equipped with massive displays. Big screens are great for multitasking and content consumption, but when it comes to ease-of-use, challenges ensue.

Alex Dobie said he'd love to see a system-wide one-handed mode introduced in Android 12, and while I can't say that's something I've ever thought about, I 100% agree with him.

Companies like Samsung and OnePlus have introduced their own one-handed modes over the years, and while they get the job done, it'd be great to have a streamlined solution built right into Android. It'd likely work better, have less compatibility funk, and would be a great feature add-on for companies that haven't built their own one-handed modes yet.

Improvements to picture-in-picture

Picture in picture

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Ara Wagoner also chimed in with some Android 12 hot takes, specifically, calling on Google to improve picture-in-picture on Android. PiP hasn't changed much since its introduction with Android 8.0 Oreo, and especially with Apple finally adopting it in iOS 14, it's time for Google to pay more attention to the feature.

Apple ushered in a lot of cool ideas with its take on PiP, such as being able to easily resize the player and tuck it away off-screen while still being able to listen to the audio. These are two improvements that would really help to flesh-out picture-in-picture on Android, along with anything else Google can think of.

It'd also be great if Google could find a way to make picture-in-picture a default feature for every app that plays video content. This is likely easier said than done, but if anyone can do it, it's Google. Fingers crossed!

Adaptive Charging for all Android phones

Adaptive Charging Pixel 4a

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Google's ushered in a lot of nifty features for its Pixel phones as part of the Pixel Feature Drop program, and in the most recent December 2020 one, we were introduced to Adaptive Charging. Adaptive Charging seems like a pretty low-key feature on paper, but when it comes to long-term use, its benefits are substantial.

A lot of people charge their phones while they sleep, and while this is the most convenient way to refuel, it's not exactly ideal for your phone's battery. Keeping it plugged in at 100% for hours-on-end can cause faster degradation as time goes on, thus resulting in worse battery life the longer you hold onto your phone.

Adaptive Charging fixes this. When enabled, it's able to adjust charge speeds according to your alarms in the Google Clock app. This means you get to wake up to a fully-charged phone, and with the adjustments made by the feature, your phone gradually gets to that 100% marker in the safest and most efficient way possible.

This is a feature everyone — not just Pixel owners — could benefit from. Alex already called on Google to implement it into Android 12 as a system-wide feature and I couldn't agree more.

Scrolling screenshots

Expanded screenshot feature on the OnePlus 7 Pro

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

After years of patiently waiting, Android 11 finally gave us a system-level screen recording feature. With Android 12, I want to see Google expand on its screen capture capabilities with a native scrolling screenshot.

This is another one of those things that third-party Android interfaces have offered for years, but when it comes to "stock" Android, it's nowhere to be found. Let's change that, shall we?

Scrolling screenshots aren't all that exciting to talk about, but the fact that they still don't exist in Android as a default feature is kind of hilarious. It's not something I use all the time, but whenever I'm on a Pixel and need to use it for whatever reason, not being able to sure is annoying.

A fun dessert name

Android statues at Google campus

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

It's quite likely this final request has zero chances of happening, but c'mon, Google — just bring back fun dessert names! The last time we got a tasty treat to go along with a new Android version was in 2018 with Android 9 Pie, and since then, it's been nothing but drab with Android 10, Android 11, and soon again with Android 12.

The shift to a more mature and streamlined branding scheme makes sense, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the whimsical names we used to look forward to every single year.

Things have been kind of terrible, Google. Throw us a bone and bring back the desserts!

What about you?

That's what we want to see in Android 12, but now we want to hear from you! Whether it's something practical or a pie-in-the-sky feature request, what do you want to see in Android 12? Comment below and let us know!

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.