Android 12 is the Android update of 2021, but there is a good chance that you cannot use the software (yet). Do you want to get started? These apps bring key Android 12 features to all Android phones.

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Anyone can download these Android 12 features

A new design, more focus on privacy and an important role for widgets: Android 12 adds a lot of functions. It is therefore all the more unfortunate that the latest version of the operating system is only available to a small group.

Although of course you cannot get the complete experience at home, it is possible to use parts of Android 12 in advance. For that, we have to thank the active community behind the system, because in no time there were all kinds of “Android 12 apps” in the Play Store. Do you want to get started with exclusive Android 12 functions? Then you have to go to these apps.

1. More privacy

One of the biggest additions in Android 12 is the Privacy Dashboard. As you might expect from the name, this is the starting point for all things privacy and data on your phone.

For example, you can see which data apps have permission to, and you can withdraw this approval if necessary. This is possible in Android 11 (and previous versions too), but Privacy Dashboard nicely bundles all settings and options on one screen.

Android 12 features Privacy Dashboard

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to this Android 12 feature. Take, for example, the app with the uninspiring (but witty) name Privacy Dashboard. This is almost 1 to 1 counterfeit and does everything that the Android 12 ‘app’ from Google can. For example, you can check how often Google Maps requests your location and revoke or limit this permission.

Speaking of permission: Privacy Dashboard itself also needs some permissions. For example, the app should have the information from what other apps can read, which is understandable. Fortunately, the code of Privacy Dashboard is completely open-sourceie public. So everyone can look under the hood and check exactly how the app works.

Privacy Dashboard

Privacy Dashboard

Rushikesh Kamewar

2. Does an app use your camera (or microphone)?

Android 12 is fully committed to privacy. An important part of this are the improved indicators. Or in normal Dutch: when an app has access to your camera or microphone, you will see an icon at the top right of the screen. That is of course very nice, because in this way a vague and abstract concept such as privacy is made very concrete.

With the app discussed above, you can get the exact same thing done, and better. Simply open (the app) Privacy Dashboard, go to the settings (“App Settings”), choose “Privacy Indicators” and slide the toggle. For example, if you now use the Google Maps app, you will see a green icon appear in the top right of the screen.

Would you rather it be red or yellow? Which can! In the Privacy Dashboard settings menu, go to ‘Indicator Customization’ to customize the appearance of the icons.

3. Seek and you shall find

Searching for things on your phone and the internet directly from your home screen: it is possible with Android 12. That is, if you use the latest Android version on a Pixel smartphone, which are made by Google itself. This function is clearly copied from competitor Apple, because the iPhone has had this function (called Spotlight) for a long time.

Better late than never, shall we say. The Sesame app brings this exclusive Android 12 feature to all phones. After you have installed the program, place the widget on your home screen. When you then start typing, Sesame searches for results. Your apps, contacts, calendar and internet results are used for this.

Even more impressive, Sesame also recognizes app actions. For example, if you search for the name of a friend, the app will come back with the suggestion to send that person an email or WhatsApp message, but you will also receive search results from the web and, for example, a document in which that person’s name appears.

Sesame - Universal Search and Shortcuts

Sesame – Universal Search and Shortcuts

Sesame crew

4. Extend your finger

Phone screens are getting bigger, but our hands remain the same size. That’s why Android 12 has a mode to operate your phone with one hand. Simply swipe down on the bottom to activate a ‘mouse’ at the top of the display. You operate this by moving your thumb (or another finger) around the bottom and clicking.

Android 12 functions Smart CUrsor

Some manufacturers, including Samsung, have built the ‘one-handed mode’ into their version of Android for some time, but that does not apply to all smartphones. That’s why the Smart Cursor app exists. After installing it, you can easily operate the top of your phone screen without stretching your fingers all the way out.

Compared to the standard function in Android 12, you can set Smart Cursor completely to your own liking and make it personal. For example, you can make the area you click larger to make the clicking less delicate. The color of the pointer can also be adjusted. Smart Cursor is free, but for 1.99 euros you get access to all functions.

Smart Cursor: One-handed mode

Smart Cursor: One-handed mode

Phone Phreak

5. Get the Android 12 design (partially) into your home

Android 12 has received a fresh coat of paint. Thanks to the so-called Material You design, the operating system looks completely fresh. While there isn’t one simple way to get this design to your Android phone, you can copy elements. Widget enthusiasts in particular can get started.

For example, there are apps in the Play Store to download Android 12’s signature Clock widgets. Think of Android 12 Clock Widgets, an app with a very effective name. With this program you can not only put the Clock widgets of Android 12 on your device, but even edit them to your own taste.

Android 12 Clock Widgets

Android 12 Clock Widgets

Mohamed Ibrahim

Android 12 Weather Widgets is also recommended. You guessed it: after downloading this app, you can use Android 12’s new Weather widgets on your phone.

Android 12 Weather Widgets

Android 12 Weather Widgets

Mohamed Ibrahim

More about Android 12

Android 12 appears first for Google’s own Pixel phones. Do you want to know when your device will receive the update? Then view our Android 12 update overview. Here you will find per make and model when the update will (probably) be released. In the meantime, read or view our Android 12 review, because we have already tested the system extensively.

Android 12 review: the biggest pros and cons of the update

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