UPDATED 13:00 EDT / APRIL 21 2021


Android 12 gets new app launch experience, better haptic feedback in latest developer preview

Google LLC’s Android team is keeping developers busy with yet more updates to the world’s most popular mobile operating system, unveiled today in the third developer preview of Android 12.

In a blog post, Android Vice President of Engineering Dave Burke explained that the company has taken a staggered approach to rolling out the new features in Android 12 in order to give developers the time they need to implement them in their apps and then test for compatibility. With the Android 12 beta launch release date now fast approaching, the third developer preview introduces new capabilities aimed at expanding the use of haptic feedback, introduce a more frictionless linking experience and make app launches more customizable.

“In Android 12 we’re continuing to focus on making the OS smarter, easier to use, and better performing, with privacy and security at the core,” Burke said. “We’re also working to give you new tools for building great experiences for users on phones, laptops, tablets, TVs, or cars.”

The improved app launch capabilities are all about giving developers a way to create a more “consistent and delightful” startup experience, Burke explained. For example, there’s a new app launch animation for all apps from the point of launch, a new splash screen that shows the app icon and a new transition to the app itself. The experience adds standard design elements that can be used to launch any app, but it’s also more customizable, enabling developers to maintain their unique branding.

“For example, you can use new splash screen APIs and resources to manage the splash screen window’s background color; you can replace the static launcher icon with a custom icon or an animation; you can control the timing to reveal the app; and you can set light mode or dark mode, and manage exit animation,” Burke said.

The new launch experience is enabled by default for all apps, and Burke urged developers to get started testing their apps with it soon and provide feedback so his team can iron out any issues with it.

The improvements to web linking should help users get to their content faster, Burke said. To do so, Google has changed the default handling of links that aren’t verified through Android App Links or manually approved for links by users.

So now, Android will open them in the default browser directly, rather than showing a “chooser dialog.” And to make it easier for developers to get their app approved for links, there’s a new “Intent” that can take them to the “Open by default” settings.

One of the more interesting new features from the end user’s perspective should be the new tools developers are getting for creating “more informative haptic feedback” for UI events. That should enable more immersive and delightful effects for gaming, as well as more attention-getting effects with productivity apps, Burke said.

For example, there’s a new expressive effect called “low tick” that takes advantage of the broader frequency bandwidth of the newest actuators. These, Burke said, include multiple different actuators in game controllers that can deliver the same effect synchronously or different effects at the same time.

Among the long list of new features today, Burke also called attention to the new notification templates, video encoding improvements, new customizable camera effects, faster machine learning and more standardized graphics processing unit compute. The preview also introduces better debugging for native crashes and support for more flexible backup configurations. The full list of new features is available here.

In the blog post, Burke stressed that with the first Android 12 Beta set to arrive in May, it’s vital that developers begin testing their apps for compatibility with the new features as soon as possible, with a view to launching a compatible update in the next few weeks. He added that most of the new features remain opt-in rather than default, so developers can work on them in the order that suits them best.

The Android 12 Developer Preview 3 is available to download now on Pixel 3 and 3 XL, Pixel 3a and 3a XL, Pixel 4 and 4 XL, Pixel 4a and 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 devices. It can also be accessed through the Android Emulator. Those who have installed an earlier developer preview on their Pixel device will receive the update automatically.

Image: Faruq Hossain/Wikimedia Commons

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