Although it may have gotten lost in the noise of yesterday’s multitude of Samsung announcements, Google rolled out Android 12 Beta 4. With that release, Android 12 has hit the ‘platform stability’ stage, which essentially means it’s less like a beta than before.
In other words, what you see in Beta 4 is likely very close to the final product. There may be a few more changes to come, but probably nothing major at this point. In my brief time with Beta 4 since installing it yesterday, I’ve noticed maybe one or two minor changes.
The other significance of hitting platform stability is that developers can now rely on the behaviours and changes in Android 12 to remain mostly consistent until release. It does not mean Android 12 is bug free yet, so those avoiding the beta for fear of bugs may not want to install it yet. That said, Beta 4 does feel very stable so far and it receive several bug fixes (more below).
Whenever there’s a major Android upgrade, there are two many areas that see changes. There’s the user-facing stuff like the user interface and other software, but there’s the developer-facing side as well. That includes APIs and Android behaviour changes. With platform stability, it’s those latter things that definitely won’t see significant change, which means developers can start updating their apps to take advantage of new Android 12 features without worrying a future change will break compatibility. (Unfortunately, many app makers don’t take advantage of this window to update their apps.)
Developers interested in learning more about targeting Android 12 can check out Google’s developer page here.
Release notes show one new feature and several bug fixes
Beyond that, Google published release notes for Beta 4 that note a few important additions and changes. First, Beta 4 starts the rollout of Google Play Services Ad ID changes. That means users who opt-out of personalization will have their ad ID replaced with a string of zeroes. You can learn more about Google’s plan here — the feature will start with Android 12 devices and expand to more Android devices in 2022.
Additionally, Google listed a ton of bug fixes for various issues, including notifications that can’t be dismissed (I’ve had an infuriating number of those), broken theme colours, Quick Settings grid alignment issue and many more.
It’s possible that there are some tweaks and changes Google didn’t list in the release notes — keep your eyes on MobileSyrup for coverage of any other features we discover.
If you’re using a Pixel phone and opted into the Android Beta Program, you likely already received the Beta 4 update in an over-the-air (OTA) push yesterday. If not, you can head to Settings > System > System Update > Check for update to get it. Those not in the beta program but want to try out Android 12 now that’s more stable, click here and follow the steps to register your Pixel phone.