Google this week announced that an Android 12 update is coming to the mobile platform, targeting tablets, foldables, and large-screen devices, including those that run ChromeOS. Dubbed Android 12L, it is expected to arrive in early 2022 on a number of tablets and foldable devices.

Given the growing push into foldables and devices with two screens, it makes sense for Google to address things head on. It also makes sense that it would ready its own software platform if and when the rumors of a Google foldable phone ever bear fruit.

Android 12L optimizes the layout of a device’s UI, tweaking the settings and placement for things such as the lock screen, notification shade and Quick Settings, and more.

Those devices which can leverage the 12L features will see a two-column layout, splitting some settings to the left and moving notifications to the right.

Android 12L also ushers in a new taskbar to make it easier to toggle between different apps. Users can drag and drop an app from the taskbar to open it in split-screen mode; Google enables this for all apps, whether resizable or not.

Another design change to look for in 12L is improved letterboxing. Google will let OEMs adjust shape, size, and color of letterboxing, and give them control over position of inset windows and the ability to round corners. While that may be music to a developer’s ear, it might not make sense to a casual reader. To that we say, look forward to a more visually appealing interface.

Android 12L is slated to release early 2022 with the next generation of devices, but the features can be tested and played with on the Android developer website. Google is actively working with OEM partners on the 12L update; a developer preview of 12L for the Lenovo P12 Pro tablet is on the horizon.

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