Android 12L is a big step in the right direction for tablets

Android has never been the best dog when it comes to tablets – not that rivaling the iPad is an easy task, but Android has always lacked the full features and app support of Apple’s flagship tablet . While Android 12L isn’t going to be an iPad killer anytime soon, the new OS is finally starting to fix issues that have been around for a decade.

Android 12L impressed from the start. Simplified multitasking features, support for additional apps, and a series of minor but notable improvements to core functionality all make a strong case for Android’s future on the big screen. Google released 12L on its Pixel phones, but the tablet version is only available in beta on the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, so glitches and missing features are to be expected, but overall Android 12L is exciting . If you’ve been craving a tablet experience to match your Android smartphone, this might finally be it.


Multitasking made easy

This is arguably Android 12L’s biggest draw, and that seems to be the intention. Tablets are increasingly expected to serve business needs rather than just entertainment, and Android has fallen short. This update aims to change that by implementing a handy tool: the taskbar.


Positioned at the bottom of the screen, the compact black bar houses up to six apps, allowing you to seamlessly switch between up to two of them on a single screen. The simple drag-and-drop system is intuitive, and on a large enough screen, the multi-window user interface displays plenty of information. It’s a revelation compared to older versions of stock Android on tablets, which makes it so inconvenient to enter split-screen mode that it’s almost not worth doing.


If the taskbar gets in the way or ruins your experience, you can just long press to hide it. If you decide you want it back, just press and hold the gesture handle at the bottom of the screen. Even better, if you don’t want to use the taskbar at all, you can still take advantage of multitasking by using gesture control to access the All Apps view of all your apps. Once you have that, just click the “Split” button to enter a second open app on your screen. It’s simple and nice compared to the convoluted multi-window modes found on older versions of Android.


A downside to the multitasking feature is that it’s not entirely straightforward to “unlink” two pages from each other. As far as I can tell, the only way to do this is to drag the divider bracket to the edge of the screen, which is fun and well animated, but not the easiest way to get back to your full- l screen experience. You’re also limited to a 50-50 split in the current beta – no resizing of apps to take up more or less space. By comparison, Samsung’s custom multi-window system gives each app a control bar from which you can close, move or resize them. You can also save application groups for quick access to multiple windows, which is not an option in the original 12L software.

A better experience for tablets and dual screens

As stated in the developer documentation, Android 12L isn’t just for larger screen tablets. The new OS update is also designed to make using foldable and dual-screen devices more intuitive, and that should become pretty obvious as soon as you fire up Android 12L. It makes much better use of the space available on the operating system.


Everything from the setup process to the notification shade is split in two, right down the middle. This saves you unnecessary scrolling and keeps you from reaching the whole screen, which is more annoying with a large device like a tablet than with a phone. Even the login screen has an unlock pattern in the bottom left or right corner, rather than the center, for ease of use, and you can just click on the side of the screen you want let it appear.


This approach is infinitely more intuitive, allowing easy clicking without having to remove your hand from the device. Plus, it drastically reduces the unsightly gaps that have become so common on tablet interfaces.

Solve the app problem

We’ve all been there, opening an app on a tablet, only to be faced with a clunky mobile app extended onto a larger screen. It’s ugly, outdated, and downright unreasonable at this point in technological history. Android 12L is starting to fix this terrible problem with app support, making all supported apps in split-screen mode. Naturally, there are new tools and features to help developers make sure their apps work as expected on tablets, but I didn’t experience any issues with my usual selection of apps.

Yes, most of the popular apps already have some kind of tablet support to make the experience a little more complete. However, there are plenty of unoptimized apps that could throw a spanner in the works, and Android 12L is designed to fix that with an improved compatibility mode that can make more efficient use of all the space provided by larger screens. .

This is where the dual-screen feature also comes in handy. If an unoptimized application is used in split-screen mode, it will be infinitely better than the previously stretched version that users do not support. And while it’s not perfect, it’s a welcome improvement over older iterations of the interface. If you want to know more about the technical details, our friends at Esper have an incredibly detailed dive on 12L.

A small update for Android, a giant leap for the tablet experience

It’s the first time in a decade that Google has really cared about tablets, not since before the launch of Android Jelly Bean, when Google reduced tablets to little more than bloated phones. Android 12L’s interface is still recognizable as Android, but it morphs to make better use of screen space on a tablet, and the revamped multitasking features have boosted my productivity tremendously.


Overall, Android 12L is a definite win for Android users who expected a truly tolerable tablet experience. You get the same apps and features, while using the full potential of a large (or dual) screen device. Simply put, it looks like Android is finally going to get into the fight for tablet supremacy. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

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