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Android 12: 4 hidden options you are certain to like from day one

Android 12 is (nearly) right here. 

James Martin/CNET

The primary public beta of Android 12 is offered for anybody who needs to assist Google take a look at the brand new working system and has a suitable machine. Together with the Android 12 beta, Google introduced a slew of latest options we will count on by the point the OS is prepared for official launch later this 12 months, together with enhanced privateness controls, a new Android TV distant and the largest change to the general look of Android to this point. 


Brett Pearce/CNET

As I typically say when new working techniques are launched, one of the best options are normally the hidden ones: Options that are not introduced, however that you must dig into the working system to seek out. For instance, there is a devoted sport mode in Android 12, however it’s buried within the Settings app. There’s additionally a shortcut to your machine’s notification historical past for these occasions once you unintentionally dismiss an alert.

I am nonetheless digging by means of Android 12 and what it has to supply, however to date I’ve discovered 4 hidden options which can be certain to be helpful. Google will launch a number of extra updates to Android 12 earlier than its official launch later this 12 months, including extra of the modifications it unveiled (the privateness options are at the moment MIA, for instance), and absolutely including extra hidden options. Here is what I’ve discovered to date. 

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Android 12 Beta hands-on


Notification history is easier to find in Android 12

Do you ever clear out a notification without truly reading it? I do it all the time. Android has offered your device’s notification history for some time now, but you either had to know where to look to find it, or you had to install a third-party app to see it. 

In Android 12, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom of your notification shade, where you’ll see a new History button. Tap it, and you’ll see recently cleared notifications as well as alerts from the last 24 hours. 

If you see Manage instead of History, that’s because Notification History isn’t turned on. Enable it by tapping on Manage, then select Notification History and slide the switch to the On position. 


You now have quick access to your past notifications. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

One-handed mode in Android 12 is made for big phones

A new one-handed mode in Android 12 may not be a headlining feature, but it’s one that could make a big difference in how you use your phone daily. Especially if you’re using a phone with a big display, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra

The new one-handed mode moves the top half of whatever’s on your screen down to the bottom half, making it easier to tap a quick settings tile or a notification. To use it, place a finger on the small bar that’s at the bottom of your phone’s screen and swipe down. It may take a few tries to get it, but once you get the gesture figured out, it’s easy to reproduce. 

Before you can do that, though, you’ll need to turn it on by going to Settings > System > Gestures > One-Handed Mode and slide the switch to the On position.

Pixel 5

Google is getting serious about mobile gaming. Or so it appears. 

Juan Garzon / CNET

There’s a dedicated gaming mode in Android 12, but good luck finding it on your own

If you play a lot of games on your Android phone, you’ll be happy to know that Google is adding a dedicated Gaming Mode to Android 12. When it’s turned on, your phone will do things like automatically turn on do not disturb when you start playing. 

But you’d never know the mode existed if you didn’t venture deep into, of all places, your phone’s notification settings. 

Go to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb > Schedules. Once there, check the box next to Game Mode to turn it on. You can tap on the settings gear icon to view the various options that are included with Game Mode, such as displaying your current FPS, screen recording toggle or live streaming on YouTube. 


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android 12, on the Pixel at least, has an interesting new app layout option

The app grid on your phone’s home screen normally ranges for a 4×4, 5×5 or 6×6 grid (or some similar combination). However, in Android 12 on the Pixel 5, there’s a new app grid option that’s downright funny at first glance — 2×2. I assume this is limited to just Pixel phones, but hopefully, other phone-makers adopt it, as it’s a huge accessibility feature for those who need larger app icons. 

Switch to the new 2×2 layout with a long-press on your home screen, then select Styles & Wallpapers> Grid > 2×2

As Google continues to update the public beta and we get closer to the official launch later this year, more features will be added and more features will be uncovered. Until then, make sure to check out our favorite Android 12 features thus far. And if you’re ready (read: brave enough) to take the plunge, here’s how to install Android 12 right now.

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