Android 12 developer preview feature roundup: improved emergency calls, bigger notifications, and more

The Android 12 developer preview is out, and the internet is busy poring over it to find any new features or hints at the OS’s future. So far, there have been a few interesting things discovered, such as an Emergency SOS feature, some redesigns, and other useful, if minor, finds:

The ability to prevent specific apps from showing media controls in quick settings The ability to wirelessly share Wi-Fi passwords to people nearby with the tap of a button An update to Markup that lets you put emoji (and text) on screenshots Bluetooth pairing options are now included in the media picker A reduce bright colors accessibility option Improved gamepad rumble support A toggle switch redesign (that looks really nice in my opinion)

As pointed out by Android Police, the Emergency SOS feature is also much easier to access now. Before, making an emergency call required you to hold the power button down, tap the emergency button, then tap twice on the Call 911 button. In Android 12, however, it can be activated by rapidly pressing the power button five times, which will trigger a countdown telling you that an emergency call is about to be placed.

Android Police notes that, by default, it calls 911. You can set it to call a different number, but if the number isn’t a government-run emergency line, your phone will have to be unlocked for the call to go through.

The process for accessing the Emergency Call feature in Android 11. Screenshots: Sean Hollister / The Verge Android 12 developer preview’s emergency call UI. Image: Android Police

There have been a few minor redesigns of the Settings app search bar and the lock screen and notification media player, but Mishaal Rahman found a feature flag that “dramatically” changes the settings UI to be easier to use one-handed.

BIG change: If you enable the “Silky home” feature flag that I previously mentioned, you’ll get a DRAMATICALLY changed Settings UI that’s MUCH more one-handed friendly. Here are a few screenshots:

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) February 18, 2021

9to5Google has also found that some screens in the settings app have blue-tinted backgrounds. It speculates that it could be part of a rumored theming system, but at the moment, it seems very unfinished.

Image: 9to5Google

Of course, notifications have also gotten a redesign, with 9to5Google noting that there’s a dedicated snooze button now, and the icon bubbles are now much larger. This looks like it reduces the density of notifications, but it’s still very early days for Android 12, so it’s possible changes could be made or toggles could be added to control whether you want to see the larger app icon.

The app icon bubbles are now larger. Image: 9to5Google

There are also a few features that are hinted at, or even have settings present, but currently don’t seem to work or aren’t enabled, including:

Scrolling screenshots A Pixel 5 double-tap feature A one-handed mode Privacy toggles to turn cameras and microphones off system-wide

Given the early state of the developer preview, it’s not really meant for day-to-day use on your main phone. And as with all betas, these features and designs are subject to change in new releases. Still, it’s a tantalizing glimpse at the future of Android and the features Google is adding to an already feature-packed mature OS.

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