Android 12L just got folded into Android 12.1 — what that means for you

android 12l announcement image
(Image credit: Google)

Android 12L, or Android 12.1 as it's now known, is now rolling out exclusively to Pixel phones. That's disappointing, since the tablet-specific upgrades that define this update won't be put to proper use for quite some time yet.

As seen on Google's The Keyword blog, and as reported by 9to5Google, this new version of Android 12 is coming to Pixel phones, going from the Pixel 5a all the way back through to the Pixel 3a, covering all main and a-series Pixels in between. It's not ready for the Google Pixel 6 yet though, as it and the Pixel 6 Pro will have their own 12.1 update later in March.

But in terms of Android tablets, the Android 12L/12.1 update won't be coming until "later this year," with tablets from Samsung, Lenovo, and Microsoft on the cards to receive the update. That's a surprisingly long wait, particularly when you consider that Android 12L was in beta from October 2020, giving developers plenty of time to experiment 

This is unfortunate since most of the exciting changes in this new version of Android are aimed at tablets. It includes things like a new dual-pane design for certain apps and the notification and quick settings shade, a taskbar for your favorite apps and shortcuts, and a native multi-window mode.

As for smartphones, the change list is very short and uninteresting in comparison. Sure, you can now change wallpapers faster just by long-tapping your home screen, there's a new fingerprint unlocking animation for the Pixel 6, and you can now toggle the size of the lock screen's clock, but that's not going to fundamentally change the way you use them, unlike the tablet upgrades.

Android users will soon get more upgrades in the form of Android 13, expected to get its full announcement at Google I/O (likely happening in May) and roll out to phones starting in fall of this year. New features expected to appear in this new edition of Android include an adjustable flashlight, simplified media hand-off and a redesign to the media output selection menu.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.