Android 12.1 looks like a much-needed upgrade ahead of rumored Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold render
Google Pixel Fold render (Image credit: MacRumors)

What you need to know

  • A look into Android 12.1 shows several improvements aimed at foldables.
  • Many UI elements will make better use of the larger display area.
  • The new features include improved notifications, split-screen, and navigation across the UI.

Android 12 isn't even available in stable form yet, but we're already getting a look at the follow-up Android 12.1 if that's what Google ends up calling it. The update is expected to be aimed at the best foldable phones to enhance the UI experience for those devices.

XDA-Developers have done a deep dive into many features and changes coming to Android 12.1, which appear to make much better use of the larger displays that foldables often offer.

Dual-pane navigation and split-screen appear to be a big focus with Android 12.1. The quick settings panel, for example, can now be shown on one side with the notification panel sitting next to it. Not only that, but the quick settings panel will apparently show even more quick toggles when collapsed.

This will also extend to the lock screen, which will show the time on one side and notifications on another. However, the most helpful change will be to the system navigation. With the dual-pane view, users will be able to have the settings menu on the left while navigating individual settings on the right.

Navigation and multitasking also get a boost thanks to the split-screen. The dividing bar between apps appears a bit larger, and double-tapping the middle divider will make the apps switch sides as part of the app pairs feature.

A new Chrome OS-like taskbar was also spotted in the build, making Android tablets feel more like some of the best laptops. And the recent apps view also gets a new UI, with the most recent app shown the largest with a "Split" toggle appearing underneath, while the others are displayed in two smaller rows next to it.

Other features include the ability to drag a notification to open the associated app in split-screen, Android 12's open-source dynamic theming system that was recently spotted, an updated boot animation, and a customizable "Hold for Assistant" setting that lets you set the duration to hold the power button.

Android 12.1 Press And Hold Assistant Duration

Source: XDA-Developers (Image credit: Source: XDA-Developers)

The build appears to still need some work, the features are still fairly buggy or just don't work. There are also plenty of features that haven't been covered yet. However, it gives us a look at what Google could be planning for the release of Android 12.1 (or whatever it's to be called) whenever it's expected to arrive. It also stokes the fires of a possible Google Pixel Fold launching by the end of the year, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.

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Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.