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Android 12L arrives with a new look for tablets and foldables

android 12l announcement blog post showing tablet and foldable
(Image credit: Google)

Google has decided to take Android tablets seriously again, at least if Android 12L is any indication. The update is aimed squarely at tablets, yes, but foldables, too. With enhancements to the UI and multitasking to the new taskbar, big screen Android devices might finally get some love from Google itself.

All of the details are in Google's blog post (opens in new tab). The most obvious change is the new UI; Google has redesigned the Android 12 look for large screens. Quick Settings, the notification shade, Settings, lock screen and more now benefit from a fresh layout that better uses the screen real estate. For example, Quick Settings and the notification shade now get their own columns when you pull down.

android 12l tablet notification ui

(Image credit: Google)

The Settings menu now looks more modern, with categories on the left side and the menus themselves on the right side of the screen. That means you don't have to back out to the main menu to go to a new section. It's a small quality of life change, but it's definitely welcome — even though many of the Android phone makers already do this in their various skins.

The other big addition is a taskbar. We've seen this on Samsung devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but now Android has one natively, which should benefit all the devices on our best foldable phones list. It does exactly what any other taskbar does, letting you switch quickly between open apps and access shortcuts. This will let future big screen devices work smarter.

android 12l multitask ui gif

(Image credit: Google)

The taskbar also allows for the new multi-window feature, which is also pretty self-explanatory. This will allow for tablets and foldables to become even stronger productivity machines, like we've already seen with the Galaxy Z Fold 3's multitasking capabilities. 

Google did not say specifically when Android 12L would be released — just that it's coming later this year — but what device would be better to showcase the new focus on big screens? We're thinking of the rumored Pixel Fold. Of course, 12L is only the first step, since Google says it'll continue working on enhancements and improvements going into Android 13.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.