We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Can Android 12L Finally Solve Google’s Terrible Tablet Problem?

Android 12L preview and beta

Android 12 just got released following a lengthy beta period at the same time Google introduced the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, but the company is already moving on to a new software update coming early next year. It’ll be called Android 12L, and it could finally help Google solve its tablet problem.

We can all agree that Android tablets suck, which is why Google is putting a bunch of effort into Android 12L. The company says the 12L feature drop will make Android 12 better on larger screens like tablets, foldables, and Chrome OS devices.

We first heard about a potential Android 12.1 update back in September, and today at the Android Dev Summit, Google made it official. Android 12L will optimize the screen and user interface layout for bigger screens, adjust the placement of everything on the home screen (with a dock like a ChromeOS device) and make tweaks to the lock screen, notifications, Quick Settings panel, and much more.

This looks like a drastic change for Android, which is odd considering Android 12 is barely out of the oven.


According to Google, any screen above a specific size will display a two-column layout that makes use of the entire screen. Then, as shown above, there’s a new taskbar dock making it fast and easy to switch between apps on large screens, or more importantly, open split-screen mode and take full advantage of a bigger display. Google says this works on all apps, even if they’re designed to be resizable or not. This new dock will not be present on smaller screens like a typical phone.


Based on what we see today from Google, the Quick Settings menu will live on the left side of the screen, and the notification pulldown bar gets locked permanently to the right side. This allows users to access anything and everything instantly or simultaneously, without closing apps or stopping what they’re doing. Is it just me, or does it look a bit like iPad OS?

Then, apps like Messages will take advantage of bigger screens by instantly opening into a split-screen mode. That way, you can scroll through messages on one side while replying or seeing an active chat on the right side.

Everything shown today should help improve the terrible Android tablet experience and deliver a better UI for foldable devices. And as we all know, foldable phones are popular right now, and we still hear rumors that Google has a Pixel Fold in the works.

Android 12L Release Date

Google released 12L Android Emulator system images today for app developers to preview all the changes, work on updates, and implement them into apps and services. As a result, the update should be ready to go when it arrives “early next year” to help usher in the “next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables.”

We’re unsure what “early next year” means, but hopefully, we’ll get some clarification soon. It’s also plausible Google will announce the Pixel Fold at some point later this year or in early 2022 as the first device to get Android 12L. Furthermore, Google is working with several OEM partners to help bring these features to newer devices with big screens, including Chromebook manufacturers and even an upcoming 12.6-inch Lenovo tablet to take on the iPad Pro.

In closing, it looks like while Android 12L will focus on foldable phones, tablets, and Chrome OS devices, Google did say it’ll be available for phones too, with an Android Beta rolling out in December. Keep in mind that the Android 12 experience will stay the same on phones, for now, and for upcoming updates from manufacturers like Samsung, but it’ll eventually change next year. Stay tuned for more details.

Source: Android Developers

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »