Android 12 is the best thing about the Google Pixel 6 and its available for all Pixel phones

The Material You design of Android 12 looks stunning and it integrates all parts of the phone perfectly

Android 12
(Image credit: Google)

In this week’s Google launch event, we finally got the full details of the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. There’s no doubt that there are impressive phones, with an well-specced camera system and the power of the new Tensor chip – all of which we will discuss in our upcoming review.

For me though, the real success is not unique to the Pixel 6. In the presentation we saw more details of Android 12 in action, and specifically how it all works together. Of course, Android 12 will reach its full potential in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but as of yesterday, the new operating system is available for all Pixel phones, as far back as the Pixel 3.

The most visual element is what Google calls Material You as it allows you to customize the look and feel of the phone’s icons and colors. Simply by changing the background wallpaper, Android 12 can adapt the color palette of the OS to use the dominant colors in the image. As the presentation explained, this allows you to have the phone match your mood or even what you are wearing.

Android 12 on the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)

Android 12 also seems to have nailed the home screen, taking advantage of the always-on display potential to provide useful widgets, such as boarding passes when in the airport or music controls when exercising.

Security controls have been simplified, with the security hub offering a tick list of settings to check. Notifications display when your microphone and camera are being access and can easily switched on and off in any app.

Instant translation is something that requires the power of the Tensor chip, so is not purely a software feature but it sits so naturally inside the chat window that it highlights the benefits of an OS and hardware made by the same company.

This software-hardware advantage is something that has never seemed to be exploited by Google in the past – perhaps because it was still using the same processors as most other Android phones. With this custom Tensor chip though, the combination of Android 12 and the Pixel 12 really should have an advantage, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Android 12 on the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)
Mat Gallagher
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat is a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, cars, music or travel. Originally from the UK, he has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing and Hong Kong, is now based in Chicago.