Android 12L: a variant of Google’s OS for folding tablets and smartphones


Google will soon offer a variant of its operating system for folding tablets and smartphones. Called Android 12L, this “Large” version of Android 12 will be optimized for large screens.

During the Android Dev Summit 2021 which took place on October 27 and 28, Google evoked the arrival of a variant of its OS for tablets and folding smartphones. Turned towards mobile devices, Android has never really convinced on the big screens as evidenced by the failure of Google on the tablet market. Unable to compete with the iPad and its iPadOS, the Mountain View company decided to officially withdraw from this segment in 2019. Instead, it preferred to bet successfully on Chrome OS and offers Android to the few manufacturers who have continued the adventure. The health crisis has nonetheless sparked renewed interest from Android manufacturers for tablets which have taken advantage of the crisis to make their comeback to the fore.

Quoted by the site GSMArena, Google claims to have recorded 100 million new activities of Android tablets in the last 12 months. An increase of 20% compared to the previous year which joins that observed on the side of Chrome OS laptops. At the same time, Samsung continues to push for folding smartphones to take off. When put together, this data therefore suggests that more than 250 million devices with large screens are running Android. A situation that will finally push Google to react through Android 12L.

Google is finally thinking of the big screens

This variant of Android 12, which can be presented as version 12.1 of the OS, is marked L for “Large”. Indeed, it is designed to better support the large screens of tablets, folding devices or two screens which are today perceived as very large smartphones by the operating system. With Android 12L, the American giant plans to offer an interface adapted to screens of more than 600 dpi in order to make its tool “More beautiful and easier to use”. Notifications, quick settings, the lock screen or the home screen will be redesigned to better take into account the specificities of these devices.

Quick settings and notifications in Android 12L.

Like iPadOS, Google’s operating system is designed for multitasking. The teams behind this “L” project want to make it “More efficient and more intuitive” thanks in particular to a new taskbar close to what can be found on competitors like Windows, iPad OS or ChromeOS. Users will be able to swipe an app to one side of the screen to activate a split screen mode. This will split the display surface in two to display the two applications in use on either side.

Android 12L multitasking. © Google

The compatibility mode will also be optimized to improve the user experience. Google’s ambition is to make better use of the available space with this slew of improvements that will be offered in the form of an update. The option chosen by Google should prevent Android 12L from experiencing the same disappointment as Honeycomb. Launched ten years ago, this version was specially designed for tablets or devices with a large screen, but it never took hold. A few months later, Google will replace Android 3.0 Honeycomb with Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), a version designed to unify the worlds of smartphones and tablets.

A release in early 2022, with the Pixel Fold?

A decade later, Google had to adapt again and announced that Android 12L was primarily reserved for developers. The latter will be able to adapt their applications while users will be able to discover this version L early next year.

The Mountain View firm indicates that it will be available “In time for the next wave of tablets” and “Folding devices under Android 12”. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro tablet are among the affected models. They could be joined by Google which would work on its side on a Pixel Fold.

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