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Stable Android 12 is finally rolling out to older Pixel smartphones

Android 12 Ota
Android 12 Ota (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

Update, Oct 19 (1:15 p.m. ET): Pixel phones are finally being updated to Android 12

What you need to know

  • Google announced the official stable rollout of Android 12
  • The update comes with a host of new features for the platform, including dynamic theming, updated widgets, and enhanced privacy settings.
  • Google Pixel smartphones will be the first to receive Android 12, with other OEMs following.

After months of developer previews and beta builds, Google has finally released the stable Android 12 build to the Android Open Source Project. However, it won't arrive on Pixel smartphones just yet.

Pixel owners that didn't participate in the beta program will soon have access to a massive visual overhaul for Android, with the new Material You design language and dynamic theming. With this, your system colors and accents can change based on your wallpaper for a more cohesive look across the OS.

This new Material You theming also applies to apps, with Google updating its suite of applications to take advantage of the new look. Widgets are also getting new looks with more shapes and designs.

Android 12 Beta 5 Widgets

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Besides the visual overhaul, privacy is also a big focus with Android 12. The update includes the new Privacy Dashboard which shows you the apps that have access to certain data like location or the mic, including when these peripherals are being used. There are also new indicators when the camera and mic are in use, and users now have the option to revoke system-wide access to either.

Other enhancements include improvements to gaming with features like "Play as you download," better performance for notifications, new media transcoding tools, and plenty of changes under-the-hood.

As usual, Android 12 will roll out first on Google devices like the Pixel 5a all the way down to the Pixel 3. Some of the best Android phones from other OEMs like Samsung, Xiaomi, OPPO, and others that participated in the beta are also expected to receive Android 12 relatively soon, although availability depends largely on the manufacturer. T-Mobile has already released a list of phones that are expected to be updated to Android 12.

While it seems a bit odd that Google is not rolling out Android 12 to its own devices just yet, the company spokesperson tells Android Central that it still has a few things to work on:

We're putting the finishing touches on a special release with Pixel-exclusive and Pixel-first experiences on Android 12.This will roll out to Pixel users in the next few weeks.

It's unclear what Google means by "special release," especially considering many of the features in the beta are "Pixel-exclusive and Pixel-first." Google also hasn't announced a specific date for the rollout on Pixel devices, but it's likely we'll see Android 12 launch when the Google Pixel 6 gets released.

Google notes that it will have more to say about Android 12 at the Android Dev Summit on October 27.

Update, Oct 19 (1:15 p.m. ET) ― Android 12 is rolling out now

Google has finally launched the new Pixel 6 series with Android 12, but now older Pixel smartphones are finally being updated with the stable version as well, giving them access to "Pixel-first" experiences like Material You.

You can update your Pixel smartphone now by navigating to Settings > About phone > System updates.

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9 Comments
  • Already got it. It was available the second the Pixel 6 livestream started.
  • Used to be able to tap on the date on the clock widget and it brought the calendar up. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Is it a bug or permanent change?
  • I noticed the same thing.
  • Search on At a Glance. You have to have this enabled. Clock and weather show up top left corner of screen. Tapping it should open the calendar. Does on my phone. https://www.google.com/amp/s/9to5google.com/2021/10/18/android-12-at-a-g...
  • Yes, upcoming appointment notifications do show up, and I can tap on them to open them up. What is missing, is that in Android 11, the date and weather were on the same line. If you tapped on the date, it would open calendar. It no longer does that, no matter where you tap, it opens the weather widget.
  • Just tried to check for updates and Android 12 didn't show up. Guessing the update servers are getting hammered. EDIT: Using a Pixel 5
  • Checked and got the Android 12 update on my Pixel 3a XL as soon I finished watched the event. I must say it's the most beautiful Android update yet. Love how Material You has mashed my wallpaper colours together to a dark brown/green & gold theme for the UI and Google apps. Even my GBoard has never looked better. Just wished the non Google apps would let themselves follow suit. It's running a lot smoother than the last couple of rough Android 11 updates.
  • Still not seeing it here on my Pixel 5 despite hitting the update check a number of times throughout the day.
  • Getting it on my Pixel 4a right now.