What you need to know
- A few more features are coming out of the Android 12 Developer Preview.
- The rumored conversations widget is currently dubbed "People Space" while under development.
- There's also a hidden gaming toolbar and a native App Pairs feature.
The first Developer Preview for Android 12 ended up having more features than anyone realized it would, with more and more showing up each day. Much of what's been discovered can be found in our Android 12 Developer Preview hands-on, and yet there's still more to discover, a lot of which appears to be laying the groundwork for upcoming features.
App Pairs was a feature that was previously rumored to come to the platform. It's a feature that the Microsoft Surface Duo and even some of the best Samsung phones already have, allowing users to group two apps and open them in a split-screen mode. The current implementation on Android 12 (via XDA-Developers) looks largely similar to earlier mockups of the feature, although the feature seems to be quite early in development and doesn't function well.
XDA-Developers was also able to get its hands on a dedicated floating game bar which would sit on top of open games in the bottom left corner of the screen. There are two icons; a record button and a controller. The former is basically quick access to a screen recorder, while the latter will likely be a more comprehensive gaming menu to toggle or adjust settings. Unfortunately, neither of the buttons seems to work at the moment.
This feature may be exclusive to Pixel phones, which wouldn't be surprising since most OEMs come with their own version.
Another feature that could also enhance the gaming experience is Android 12's audio-coupled haptic system, which is meant to offer more dynamic haptics based on the content. For instance, the device vibrations could match your music, ringtones, or even aspects of gameplay. Android 12 uses a HapticGenerator which is an "audio post-processor which generates haptic data based on the audio channels."
The feature doesn't seem to work on the latest Pixel phones, but XDA-Developers managed to get it working on the Pixel 4, meaning that the availability of this feature will be dependent on device hardware.
Lastly, the rumored conversations widget that was discovered in early Android 12 mockups has finally been reproduced in the developer preview. This is called "People Space" in its current iteration, although right now the widget only works with Google Messages and only displays the last person to send a message.
It's not entirely clear what Google's plans for this are as far as implementation. At the moment, the widget doesn't display actual conversations, although that could come in a future version. Oddly, Google has stuck with a more rounded pill-shape for this widget, which matches the earlier mockups of the feature showing fairly inconsistent widget shapes.
The first Android 12 developer preview has turned out to give us a deeper look into Google's plans than we expected, but it's also important to note that not every one of them will make it to the final version or even the beta. Like what happened with Chat Bubbles, Google may hold off some features for a future version of Android, so we'll have to wait and see what makes the cut.