Is Android 12L A Sign That The Pixel Fold Is Coming?
The Pixel Fold has been rumored for some time now. With the launch of Android 12L, the likelihood of the device seems stronger than ever.
Android 12L is a redesigned version of Android specifically for tablets and foldables — and it may just confirm the existence of the Pixel Fold. Ever since Samsung launched the original Galaxy Fold, there’s been a lot of speculation around what a Google-made foldable would look like. Pixels stand out for their excellent cameras and helpful software. Bringing those two things to a foldable is an exciting proposition — and it’s one that may actually have some merit to it.
Rumors of a Pixel Fold first picked up in 2019 when Google confirmed it was working on foldable prototypes. A folding device named ‘Passport’ has also appeared numerous times in Android development code, further reinforcing that the device exists. While there haven’t been any leaked renders or specs of the Pixel Fold, it’s widely assumed that the gadget exists to some degree.
With the release of Android 12L, the likelihood of the Pixel Fold becomes much stronger than ever before. Announced on October 27, Android 12L is the same Android 12 experience for smartphones with a couple of foldable-inspired tweaks. In short, Google ‘refined’ much of the interface to make better use of larger screens. The notification shade is separated into two sections, apps like Settings feature two-column designs, and there’s a desktop-like app row on the bottom for quickly jumping between different apps. Android has always felt a bit awkward on tablets and folding screens, and with Android 12L, Google wants to fix that.
Why Android 12L Suggests The Pixel Fold Is Coming Soon
So, what does any of this have to do with the Pixel Fold? On paper, there isn’t any connection. Google doesn’t mention the Pixel Fold in its announcement, Android 12L isn’t exclusive to Pixels, and Googe says this was created in response to rising Android tablet activations + growing foldable popularity. From the big picture, however, this all sounds like Google is getting Android ready for its own foldable. Just take one look at the promotional images Google’s using for Android 12L. All of them feature tablets and foldables with Google’s Material You interface, something that’s currently exclusive to Pixel devices. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get Android 12L at some point, but it won’t look identical to what you see above. What Google’s showing off is how it envisions Android 12L on a large Pixel device — such as a Pixel Fold.
There’s also the timing of this announcement. Google cites a 20 percent YoY growth for Android tablets as one of the inspirations behind Android 12L. That may be true, but where was Google anywhere during the last 10 years while the iPad singlehandedly dominated the tablet market? Foldables are also getting more popular, but the only one in the U.S. that could really benefit from Android 12L is the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Would Google really go to all the trouble of creating a foldable-centric Android version just for Samsung?
Here’s another possibility. Google’s getting Android 12L out to developers now so it has time to optimize the Pixel Fold’s software experience. If the Pixel Fold launches in 2022 as many people expect, that gives Google a solid year to test Android 12L, ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible, and get developers to optimize their apps for the new experience. Android 12L is still hugely beneficial for tablets and foldables from other companies, but the idea of the new platform strongly suggests Google has something else up its sleeves.
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