Google is making big design and privacy changes to the world's most popular operating system

·Technology Editor
·2-min read
Google's Android 12 features a host of design and privacy changes for the world's most popular operating system. (Image: Google)
Google's Android 12 features a host of design and privacy changes for the world's most popular operating system. (Image: Google)

Google (GOOG, GOOGL) on Tuesday debuted a slew of new features for its Android operating system — including a revamped design and privacy changes — as part of its annual Google I/O developer conference

The latest version of the OS, dubbed Android 12, will reach many people, as Android is the world’s most widely used operating system. There are roughly 3 billion active Android devices ranging from Google’s own Pixel line of products to those produced by Samsung, Motorola, and Chinese brands like Xiaomi.

Android's latest design language, called Material You, will be available on the company's Pixel devices first, before coming to the rest of the company's software products later this year. The design is colorful, pulling hues from things like your home screen photos to generate the best colors for your device's menus.

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The company has also made its interactions more playful. For instance, tapping the power button reveals the display button across the rest of the screen. The notifications shade is also improved with larger, easier to navigate buttons, and the software is expected to be faster and more energy efficient than Android 11. 

Google is also touting privacy and security changes in Android 12 complete with a new Privacy Dashboard, which provides you with information on when apps use your personal information and gives you the option to disable them from tracking you. The software will also now tell you when your phone's camera and microphone are active, and even let you turn them off directly from the notification shade.

Then there's Google's new Android Private Compute Core, which will perform language processing on your phone rather than in the cloud, similar to what Apple does with the iPhone. The clear message here is that Google wants to be known for its security and shed the image that it harvests your information to sell ads.

Android is also enabling in-car features for vehicles that support Android Auto including wireless Android Auto and a new Car Key component that will allow you to unlock your car and start your car from your phone. The feature, however, will first launch on Google's Pixel and Samsung's phones.

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